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FloWatcher Basics

Flowmeter generalities
Differential producers
The choice of flowmeter devices is wide and a large number of different physics principles are used,
depending on the type of fluids being monitored, the environment, the cost, on the metering range and
the desired accuracy. The FloWatcher™ belongs to a class of flowmeters called differential producers.
The differential producers include flowmeters such as orifice, venturi, flow nozzle and pitot tube.
These meters have a long history and a large range of application.

Basic Principle

All the differential producer devices use the

same principle : Bernoulli’s streamline
energy equation.
When a flow is contracted, the kinetic energy
increases at the expense of the available
internal energy (flowing pressure). The
pressure difference between the pressure taps
1 [upstream full pipe section] and 2 [in the
vicinity of the contraction] is related to the
1 2 3
square of the velocities across the sections 1
and 2.
Pressure Profile
The basic relationship between the mass flow
rate qm and the differential pressure ∆pv is
written :
q m = K ρ f ∆p v
where K is a constant which depends on the
geometry of the device (diameter ratio, shape
Figure 1 : basic principle of differential producers and abruptness of the contraction, size of the
device, pressure taps location), the type of
fluid, the viscosity of the fluid and the
velocity profile (Reynolds number).

Flowmeter elements

The flowmeter consists of two elements : the primary device and the secondary device.
• Basically, the primary device is made of the reference piping (upstream section) and of the
obstruction. It is characterised by the geometry of the obstruction, the length and condition of the
piping, the pressure tap locations with respect to the primary element and the pressure tap shape.
Any change in one of these properties from reference conditions alters the differential pressure-flow
rate relationship.
• The secondary device consists of the hydraulic lines (except the pressure taps), the manometers, the
leads or any means of communication …. The properties of these elements have no effect on the
differential pressure-flow rate relationship.

FloWatcher Basics 1
Differential producers

Three of the various differential producers present some interest for the permanent downhole flow
monitoring :
• the orifice plate flowmeter which is not used today
• the classical venturi device which is used in the pump watcher and in the IPPM-A
• the truncated venturi nozzle which is used in most of the FloWatcher™ systems.
To ensure an optimum response of the flowmeter, the geometry of these devices must follow precise
guidelines which are described in full details in the ISO standard. The venturi devices which are used in
the FloWatcher™ follow these rules as closely as possible and all deviations from the standard have
been checked and evaluated through thorough flow loop tests.
The following drawings summarise the main characteristics of these devices.

Classical Venturi Tube

Upstream Throat
pressure tapping pressure tapping

Upstream Section
D Conical Convergent Throat d Conical Divergent

Orifice plate D 0.5 D

(with D/0.5D pressure tappings)

Upstream Section Downstream Section

D d

Truncated Venturi Nozzle

Upstream Throat
pressure tapping pressure tapping

Upstream Section
D d Throat Conical Divergent

Figure 2 : Differential Producers

FloWatcher Basics 2
The FloWatcher™
The FloWatcher™ installation

The FloWatcher™ installation consists

essentially of a venturi device that provides the
∆pv measurement.
Density gauge

ge 3
Optionally, a third pressure gauge is installed
higher up in the tubing string to determine the

apparent density of the fluid.

The venturi device includes the venturi device


itself, retrievable nozzle or fixed classical


venturi tube, and two pressure gauges that are


h : true vertical distance

ce a

permanently installed in a special gauge carrier

mandrel which is part of the tubing string.

The lower-most gauge is reading the pressure

immediately upstream of the nozzle. The

second gauge is positioned to read the

pressure at the nozzle throat. The third gauge
is positioned further downstream, perhaps by

Venturi device

as much as 100 meters. The ratio of the


nozzle throat diameter to upstream tubing

diameter determines the resolution of the
oa t

measurement. The gauges operate in a


ge 1

continuous mode through a cable that is



clamped on to the tubing, and extends to the

surface, where it is connected to an acquisition
bore unit either directly or through a sub-sea pod.

Figure 3 : FloWatcher™ Installation Principle

The FloWatcher™ with retrievable venturi nozzle

The FloWatcher™ venturi device consists of a wireline retrievable venturi nozzle assembly which is
anchored inside a gauge carrier mandrel.

Figure 4 : FloWatcher™ Venturi Device, complete assembly

FloWatcher Basics 3
The FloWatcher™ with classical venturi tube
For installations where the full bore access below the venturi device is not required and the obstruction
can be permanent the FloWatcher™ could use a classical venturi tube device.
Classical venturi tubes are generally used for installation where the maximum allowed outside diameter
of the device is limited.

Figure 5 : FloWatcher™ with Classical venturi tube

Basic Equations
Flow Equation
The flow equation which is used with the FloWatcher™ is issued from the Bernoulli theory and
derived from the continuity equation and from the Euler equation. It is generally written:
qm : mass flow rate where C = Discharge coefficient
C πd 2 ε = expansion factor
qm = ε 2ρ f ∆p v
1 − β4 4 d = throat diameter
β = diameter ratio (d / D upstream )
ρf = fluid density
∆pv = venturi differential pressure
The pressure change equation is valid provided the following assumptions are fulfilled :
• there is no loss along the streamline
• the pressure losses due to viscosity have been neglected
• the velocity is constant across the pipe section (this is obviously an incorrect assumption)

Uncertainty on the mass flow rate

The uncertainty on the mass flow rate is computed using the general equation which is recommended in
the ISO standard ISO-5167.

 δC  +  2β   δD +  2   δd 
2 2
2 1/ 2
δQ m
    1 δ∆p 1 δρ
2 4 2 2

! C   1 − β   D   1 − β   d      #$
= + +
Qm 4 4
4 ∆p 4 ρ

The flow resolution depends only on the resolution of the gauges and on the range of
δq 1 δ∆p δq 1 2 × Res δq Gauge Resolution
= = × =
q 2 ∆p q 2 ∆p q ∆p

FloWatcher Basics 4
Density determination
The pressure measurement
The density determination is based on the differential pressure measurement between two absolute
pressure gauges installed at a significant distance from each other. Generally, the gauges are installed
about 100 meters (vertical distance) apart.
Between the two gauges the fluid will encounter different “obstacles” : the venturi device (which is
rather complex in the case of a retrievable nozzle) and a certain length of tubing.
The total pressure loss between the two gauges can be split into three main components :.

∆p d = ∆p13 = ρf gh + ∆p VenturiDevice + ∆p Tubing

∆p d = ∆p13 = ρf gh + ∆p VD + ∆p FT
∆pVD ∆pVD is the total pressure loss across the venturi device. It includes the non recoverable
pressure losses across the venturi device and the frictional pressure losses inside the venturi
device. This pressure loss is considered as being proportional to∆pv (See Appendix)
∆pVD = k ∆pv
k is determined for each venturi device through computer model calculations or through flow
loop tests. Within the required accuracy, this coefficient is independent of the fluid and the
∆pFT ∆pFT is the pressure loss due to friction on the wall of the tubing between the top of the
venturi device and gauge #3. Apart from the hydrostatic pressure, this pressure loss is the
only one to be considered in this section of production string. The value of this pressure loss
is obtained from the classic formula :
L v2
∆p FT = λ ρ . Where v is the average velocity
D 2

The density calculation

From the previous paragraph :

∆p13 − ∆p VD − ∆p FT
ρf =
The accuracy of the density determination depends directly on the accuracy with which the individual
pressure losses are determined. Consequently, the accuracy of the density depends on :
• the accuracy of the pressure measurements p1 and p3
• the accuracy on the various geometrical parameters (tubing ID and roughness, venturi device shape
and roughness of the walls…)
• the fluid characteristics : the friction coefficient depends on the viscosity of the fluid.

FloWatcher Basics 5
The water holdup
Water holdup / Water cut
water holdup
A The water holdup, Yw, is the volumetric fraction of water across
a certain section of the pipe.

Vo = Vw+Vs Vw The fraction occupied by the oil is the oil holdup, Yo.
In oil-water flow the oil holdup is expressed as Yo = 1- Yw

(1-Yw)A YwA
water cut
the respective flow rates are :
Oil Water Qw = Vw . Yw A
Qo = Vo . (1-Yw) A = (Vw+Vs) . (1-Yw) A
[Vs = slippage velocity]
the water cut is the ratio WC = Qw / (Qw+Qo)
In general, the customer is interested in the water cut at surface

Figure 6: water holdup conditions. In that case, Qw and Qo are first converted to
standard conditions Qwsc , Qosc
WCsc = Qwsc /( Qosc+ Qwsc)

The water holdup determination

The effect of the water holdup on the apparent density is well known and perfectly quantified :
ρapp = ρwater Yw + ρoil (1 − Yw)
In practice, ρoil and ρwater are known and ρapp is measured. Yw is the parameter to be determined :
ρ app − ρ oil
Yw =
ρ water − ρ oil

FloWatcher Basics 6