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Adjustment of Differential Liberation Data to


Separator Conditions

Article in SPE Reservoir Evaluation & Engineering · June 2003


DOI: 10.2118/84684-PA

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Muhammad Ali Al-Marhoun


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Adjustment of Differential Liberation Data
to Separator Conditions
Muhammad A. Al-Marhoun, SPE, King Fahd U. of Petroleum and Minerals

Summary solution GOR and oil FVF at pressures below bubblepoint. To


Solution gas/oil ratio (GOR) and oil formation volume factor calculate the combination fluid properties from standard data
(FVF) are normally obtained from differential or flash liberation analysis, several assumptions were stipulated, but these assump-
tests. However, neither the differential liberation process nor the tions limit the range of application.
flash liberation process can represent the fluid flow in petroleum This paper describes a new method to adjust the differential
reservoirs. Therefore, data obtained from any of the two test pro- liberation data to separator conditions. This method overcomes the
cedures must be adjusted to approximate the fluid behavior in the disadvantages and limitations of the existing method and comes up
reservoir. At low pressures, the conventional method of adjustment with a correction procedure that results in a consistent physical trend.
yields negative values of solution GOR and values of oil FVF of
Current Correction Procedure
less than 1. This, of course, is not physically correct.
This paper presents a new method for adjusting the differential The existing method for adjusting the differential liberation data to
liberation data to separator conditions. The new method overcomes separator conditions was based on several assumptions, the most
the limitations of the conventional adjustment method and makes important of which (as stipulated by Amyx et al.5) are:
the low-pressure extension of the curves of solution GOR and oil • The standard cubic feet of gas remaining in solution at res-
FVF more accurate. The method is based on the fact that data ervoir conditions that will be liberated upon producing that liquid
obtained from both the differential and flash liberation tests should to the separator by a flash liberation process is the difference
yield the same value of oil relative density at reservoir conditions. between the original gas in solution and the differentially liberated
The new method is tested using 425 PVT files, yielding results that gas corrected for the reservoir shrinkage of the fluid.
are consistent with the physical behavior of solution GOR and oil FVF. • The relationship between the oil FVFs of flash and differen-
tially separated samples remains constant over the entire pressure
range of interest.
Introduction In equation form, the corrected differential solution GOR at
In the differential liberation process, gas is removed as it is re- pressures below bubblepoint pressure, according to the first as-
leased from the oil. In the flash liberation process, however, the sumption mentioned above, is as follows:
liberated gas is not removed and is allowed to reach equilibrium
with the oil. RS = Rsbf − 共Rsbd − Rsd兲共Bobf Ⲑ Bobd兲, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (1)
Generally, petroleum engineers consider that the gas liberation where R S =solution GOR adjusted to separator conditions;
process in the reservoir can be represented by the differential lib- Rsbf=bubblepoint solution GOR obtained from the separator test;
eration process.1,2 The fluid produced from the reservoir to the Rsbd=bubblepoint solution GOR obtained by the differential lib-
surface is considered to undergo a flash process. eration test; Rsd=differential solution GOR; Bobf=bubblepoint oil
The differential solution GOR is not the same as the flash FVF flashed through the separator to stock-tank conditions; and
solution GOR, as shown in Fig. 1. Similarly, the differential and Bobd=bubblepoint oil FVF differentially liberated to stock-tank
flash oil FVFs are not the same, as depicted in Fig. 2. Thus, conditions.
regardless of the testing procedures—flash or differential—some Implicitly, the adjusted differential solution GOR at pressures
correction needs to be made to the obtained data to approximate above the bubblepoint pressure is constant and is equal to the
the fluid behavior in the oil-production process. solution GOR at the bubblepoint obtained from the separator test.
The actual gas liberation process in the reservoir is neither flash
nor differential. In certain localities, the process is flash, but in RS = Rsbf at p ⱖ pb. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (2)
others, the process is differential. In some other localities the pro- According to the second assumption, the adjusted differential
cess does not match either of them. A combination test proposed oil FVF at pressures below the bubblepoint pressure is evaluated
by Dodson et al.3 is probably the closest to the reservoir process. from a combination of differential liberation data and separator test
At each step of the differential liberation test, an oil sample is data; that is,
taken and flashed to obtain Rs, ␥o, Bo, and ␥g. Here it can be seen
that all properties, including the ␥api, are different at different Bo = Bod 共Bobf Ⲑ Bobd兲 at p ⱕ pb, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (3)
pressures. Although this combination test is an improvement over where Bod⳱oil FVF obtained by differential liberation tests, and
the differential and flash liberation tests, it does not match the Bo⳱oil FVF adjusted to separator conditions.
actual reservoir behavior. The appendix to Ref. 4 explains the Implicitly, the adjusted differential oil FVF at bubblepoint pres-
differential and flash processes and the combination test. From the sure is equal to the oil FVF at bubblepoint pressure obtained from
combination test that produces different values for ␥g and ␥o at the separator test; that is,
different pressures, it is justified to adjust all the properties ob-
tained by the differential liberation test to flash separator condi- Bo = Bobf at p = pb. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (4)
tions, including ␥g and ␥o.
The fluid properties obtained by combining data from the dif- Disadvantages of the Current
ferential and flash liberation tests may be called the “combination Correction Procedure
fluid properties.” These data are used to determine the values of The adjustment method used in the industry as outlined above has
the following disadvantages:
• At lower pressures, the solution GOR became negative. This
does not conform to the physical trend, as Rs should be equal to or
Copyright © 2003 Society of Petroleum Engineers
greater than zero. This is undoubtedly the result of not taking into
This paper (SPE 84684) was revised for publication from paper SPE 68234, first presented account the required adjustment in gas and oil relative densities.
at the 2001 SPE Middle East Oil Show, Bahrain, 17–20 March. Original manuscript received
for review 3 May 2001. Revised manuscript received 28 January 2003. Paper peer ap-
The gas liberated in the differential liberation test has a relative
proved 25 March 2003. density, which increases with the decreasing pressure. The oil

142 June 2003 SPE Reservoir Evaluation & Engineering


Fig. 1—Typical solution GOR curves. Fig. 2—Typical oil FVF curves.

relative densities for the flash and differential liberation tests are and where ␥gdn–1 is the gas relative density at the lowest pressure,
different. with an RS value that is not equal to zero.
• For the correction of oil FVF, the value obtained at lower The adjusted differential oil relative density and API oil gravity
pressure leads to a value of less than 1, which does not conform to at pressures below the bubblepoint pressure are evaluated from the
the physical behavior. Because of these problems, the range of following equations:
application of the calculation procedure is limited to pressures
␥oi = ␥of + ci 共␥od − ␥of兲. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (11)
above 500 psi. Actually, the following observation should be true:
Bo ⱖ 1. ␥apii = 141.5 Ⲑ ␥oi − 131.5. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (12)
• When the values of corrected properties were used to calcu-
late the live-oil relative density at bubblepoint pressure, it did not Recently, McCain6 discovered that the equation commonly
agree with the flash live-oil relative density at bubblepoint pres- used to calculate the solution GOR is incorrect. He suggested an
sure. These data should yield the same value of oil relative density equation similar to Eq. 6 in this paper. This supports the present
at bubblepoint pressure. This problem is encountered because oil method, which was originally presented in Ref. 7. McCain,6 how-
and gas relative densities at standard conditions are not corrected ever, considered the equation used to calculate oil FVF from black-
to separator conditions, as can be seen from the following equation: oil PVT reports (Eq. 3) to be correct. As mentioned earlier, the
value of the oil FVF obtained at a lower pressure leads to a value
␥ob = 共␥o + 2.18 × 10−4 Rsb␥g兲 Ⲑ Bob. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (5) of less than 1, which does not conform to the physical behavior.

Results and Discussion


The New Method
The new method of adjusting the differential liberation data to the
The new method of adjustment of the differential liberation data to separator condition has been tested on 425 PVT files with 3,181
the separator conditions is based on the following assumptions: data points from all over the world, and the result is consistent with
• The properties obtained from the differential liberation test at physical behavior. Table 1 depicts the statistical analysis of the
bubblepoint are corrected to bubble point properties obtained by validation data. The detailed results of an example for one experi-
the flash liberation test. The corrected properties include GOR, oil mental data set taken from a PVT file (given in Table 2) are
FVF, and oil and gas relative densities. presented in Tables 3 through 7.
• The properties obtained from the last differential liberation Table 3 presents the adjustment of the solution GOR curve to
stage to the atmospheric pressure do not need any correction. This the separator conditions. Columns 1 and 2 in Table 3 are from
is considered a flash liberation. Table 2. Column 3 is calculated from Eq. 1, and Column 4 is
• The properties at pressures between bubblepoint pressure and calculated from Eq. 6. Fig. 3 shows the three curves: differential
atmospheric pressure are adjusted proportionally. The properties data, the existing correction method (Eq. 1), and the new method
that need to be adjusted from the differential liberation test to the (Eq. 6). At the bubblepoint pressure, the values obtained at both
separator test are GOR, oil FVF, oil relative density, and gas new and existing methods are equal to the bubblepoint value ob-
relative density. tained from flash liberation. At atmospheric pressure, both the
The adjusted differential solution GORs at pressures below differential liberation value and the value obtained from the new
bubblepoint are evaluated from the following equation: method are the same and are equal to zero. This is the expected
Rsi = Rsdi 共Rsbf Ⲑ Rsbd兲. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (6)

The adjusted differential oil FVF at pressures below the


bubblepoint pressure are evaluated from the following equation:

Boi = Bobf + ci 共Bodn − Bobf兲, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (7)

where ci = 共Bobd − Bodi兲 Ⲑ 共Bobd − Bodn兲. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (8)

The adjusted differential gas relative density at pressures below


bubblepoint is evaluated from the following equation:

␥gi = ␥g f + di 共␥gdn−1 − ␥g f兲, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (9)

where di = 共␥gd1 − ␥gdi兲 Ⲑ 共␥gd1 − ␥gdn−1兲 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (10)

June 2003 SPE Reservoir Evaluation & Engineering 143


value, while the existing correction procedure results in a negative
value, which cannot be physically correct. The new method adjusts current practice does not adjust the gas relative density, but it takes
the data between bubblepoint pressure and atmospheric pressure the differential value for gas relative density. Column 4 is calcu-
proportionally, according to Eq. 6. lated from Eq. 9. Fig. 5 shows two curves; one of the curves shows
Table 4 presents the adjustment of oil FVF to the separator the differential data, and the other curve represents the new cor-
conditions. Columns 1 and 2 in Table 4 are from Table 2; Column rection method for gas relative density, according to Eq. 9. The
3 is calculated from Eq. 3, and Column 4 is calculated from Eq. 7. value of the gas relative density at the bubblepoint for the new
Fig. 4 compares the three curves: differential data, the existing method is the same as that of the bubblepoint value obtained from
correction method (Eq. 3), and the new approach (Eq. 7). The the flash liberation. At the lowest pressure at which RS > 0, the gas
figure shows that at the bubblepoint, both the new method and the relative density is the same as that obtained from the differential
existing correction method are giving the same value of oil FVF, liberation test. This is because of the assumption that at the last
and it equals the bubblepoint value obtained from the flash libera- step in pressure reduction down to atmospheric pressure, the dif-
tion. At atmospheric pressure, the oil FVF values obtained from ferential liberation is a flash liberation. Eq. 9 calculates the values
both the differential liberation and the new method are the same. of gas relative density between the bubblepoint and the lowest
This is because the last differential step is similar to a flash lib- pressure proportionally.
eration. The data between the two endpoints are corrected propor- Table 6 presents the adjustment of the oil relative density curve
tionally, according to Eq. 7. The existing correction method gives to the separator conditions. Columns 1 and 2 in Table 6 are from
values for oil FVF lower than the values obtained from the differ- Table 2. Column 3 is the same as Column 2 because the current
ential liberation at atmospheric pressure, which cannot be ex- practice takes the differential values without correction. Column 4
plained rationally. is calculated from Eq. 11. Fig. 6 shows the two curves of the
Table 5 presents the adjustment of the gas relative density differential data and the new correction method for oil relative
curve to the separator conditions. Columns 1 and 2 in Table 5 are density based on Eq. 11. It is noticeable that, at bubblepoint pres-
from Table 2. Column 3 is the same as the differential values; the sure, the new method assumes the flash value as the adjusted
value. At atmospheric pressure, the new method takes the differ-

144 June 2003 SPE Reservoir Evaluation & Engineering


2. The new method gives the correct oil relative density at reser-
ential value as the adjusted value. The atmospheric pressure- voir conditions when the adjusted data are used. In contrast, the
differential step is considered to be a flash liberation. Eq. 11 cal- existing method of correction fails to give the right oil relative
culates the values of oil relative density between bubblepoint and density at reservoir conditions.
atmospheric pressure proportionally. The correction of oil relative 3. The new method successfully gives the expected values for all
density at different pressures is valid because if oil samples at the PVT properties at both bubblepoint and atmospheric pres-
different pressures were flashed to atmospheric pressure, different sures, while the existing method succeeds in some cases and
API gravity would result. fails in others.
Table 7 presents the calculated live-oil relative density at dif-
ferent reservoir pressures. Columns 1 and 2 in Table 7 are from
Table 2. Column 3 is calculated using Eq. 5 with an existing Nomenclature
method of adjustment. Column 4 presents the new approach values Bo ⳱ oil FVF, bbl/STB [res m3/stock-tank m3]
using Eq. 5 with corrected properties. Fig. 7 shows that the values Bob ⳱ bubblepoint oil FVF
obtained from the new approach are the same as those obtained Bobd ⳱ bubblepoint oil FVF differentially liberated to
from the flash liberation test for the live-oil relative density at the stock-tank conditions
bubblepoint pressure and reservoir temperature. At atmospheric Bobf ⳱ bubblepoint oil FVF flashed through the separator to
pressure, the live-oil relative density based on the new approach is stock-tank conditions
the same as the calculated value from differential liberation. The
Bod ⳱ oil FVF obtained by the differential liberation test
existing method of correction, however, failed to match the
bubblepoint and the atmospheric values. ci ⳱ variable defined by Eq. 8
di ⳱ variable defined by Eq. 10
Conclusions p ⳱ pressure, psi (kPa)
1. A new method to adjust differential liberation data to separator pb ⳱ bubblepoint pressure, psi (kPa)
conditions is outlined and tested on numerous experimental data RS ⳱ solution GOR, scf/STB [std m3/stock-tank m3]
sets, and the method is found to give the correct physical trend. Rsb ⳱ solution GOR at bubblepoint pressure

Fig. 3—Adjustment of solution GOR to separator conditions. Fig. 4—Adjustment of oil FVF to separator conditions.

June 2003 SPE Reservoir Evaluation & Engineering 145


Fig. 5—Adjustment of gas relative density to separator conditions. Fig. 6—Adjustment of oil relative density to separator conditions.

Rsbd ⳱ bubblepoint solution GOR obtained by the differential Acknowledgments


liberation test The author is grateful to the Dept. of Petroleum Engineering
Rsbf ⳱ bubblepoint solution GOR obtained from the separator at King Fahd U. of Petroleum and Minerals, Dhahran, Saudi
test Arabia, for the facilities used to perform the present work and for
Rsd ⳱ solution GOR obtained by the differential liberation their support.
test
References
␥api ⳱ stock-tank oil gravity, °API
1. Standing, M.B.: Volumetric and Phase Behavior of Oil Field Hydro-
␥g ⳱ gas relative density (air⳱1)
carbon Systems, Millet Print Inc., Dallas (1977) 81.
␥gd ⳱ gas relative density obtained by the differential
2. McCain, W.D. Jr.: The Properties of Petroleum Fluids, second edition,
liberation test (air⳱1) PennWell, Tulsa (1990) 283.
␥gf ⳱ gas relative density obtained from the separator test 3. Dodson, C.R., Goodwill, D., and Mayer, E.H.: “Application of Labo-
(air⳱1) ratory PVT Data to Reservoir Engineering Problems,” Trans., AIME
␥o ⳱ oil relative density (water⳱1) (1953) 198, 287.
␥ob ⳱ bubblepoint oil relative density (water⳱1) 4. Moses, P.L.: “Engineering Applications of Phase Behavior of Crude
␥od ⳱ oil relative density obtained by the differential Oil and Condensate Systems,” JPT (July 1986) 715.
liberation test (water⳱1) 5. Amyx, J.W., Bass, D.M. Jr., and Whitting, R.L.: Petroleum Reservoir
␥of ⳱ oil relative density obtained from the separator test Engineering, McGraw-Hill Book Co. Inc., New York City (1960)
392–399.
(water⳱1)
6. McCain, W.D. Jr.: “Analysis of Black Oil PVT Reports Revisited,”
␥op ⳱ oil relative density at pressure p and reservoir
paper SPE 77386 presented at the 2002 SPE Annual Technical Con-
temperature (water⳱1) ference and Exhibition, San Antonio, Texas, 29 September–2 October.
Subscripts 7. Al-Marhoun, M.A.: “Adjustment of Differential Liberation Data to
d ⳱ differential liberation test Separator Conditions,” paper SPE 68234 presented at the 2001 SPE
f ⳱ flash liberation test Middle East Oil Show, Bahrain, 17–20 March.
i ⳱ ith differential stage
n ⳱ number of stages in the differential liberation test
SI Metric Conversion Factors
°API 141.5/(131.5+ oAPI) ⳱ g/cm3
bbl × 1.589 873 E–01 ⳱ m3
ft3 × 2.831 685 E–02 ⳱ m3
°F (°F + 40)/1.8 – 40 ⳱ °C
psi × 6.894 757 E+00 ⳱ kPa
°R / 1.8* E+00 ⳱ K
scf / bbl × 1.801 175 E–01 ⳱ std m3/ m3
*Conversion factor is exact.

Muhammad Ali Al-Marhoun is a professor and former chair-


man of the Petroleum Engineering Dept. at King Fahd U. of
Petroleum and Minerals, Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. e-mail:
marhounm@kfupm.edu.sa. His research interests include fluid
properties and reservoir engineering, and he has published
several research and technical papers. Al-Marhoun holds a BS
degree in general engineering and an MS degree in math-
ematics from King Fahd U. of Petroleum and Minerals and a
PhD degree in petroleum engineering from the U. of Oklaho-
Fig. 7—Calculated live-oil relative density at reservoir temperature. ma. He served as a 2001–02 SPE Distinguished Lecturer.

146 June 2003 SPE Reservoir Evaluation & Engineering

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