American Oil and Gas Reporter - February 2018 - 49

FIGURE 2
Process Flow Diagram
To Vent

Liquids
Dump

PRV

From
Wellhead

Recycle Line

Recycle Control
Valve

MOV Reducing Valve
Sand Trap
Cleanout

Water Disposal/
Slop Tank

PRV

Fuel and Instrument
Gas Reserve Tank

To Engine Fuel
and Instrument
Gas Supply

Solids
Capture
Sump

Inlet Particulate Filter and
Slug Suppressor

Liquid
Injection
Line

Multiphase Compressor

Bypass Line

buildup and the "hydrolocking" that is
experienced with conventional reciprocating compressors.
In addition to handling multiphase
flows, the liquid-tolerant design injects
liquid coolant into the compression chamber. Because of the high heat capacity of
liquids, this allows the compressor to
achieve compression ratios of 40-to-1 or
more. The extremely high ratios are attractive in liquids-rich wellhead applications because of the high flexibility it affords for suction pressures.
Process Design
A compressor package might be installed when wellhead pressure (compressor suction pressure) is 100 psig and
the application requires a 400 psig discharge to flow into the gathering line. A
high compression ratio and flexibility in
suction pressure allows the compressor
to continue operating as the well is pulled
down, with the capability to pull all the
way down to ambient pressure while still
meeting the discharge requirements in a
single stage of compression. This not
only improves the economics of installing
compression, since it eliminates the potential for having to swap out different
compressor packages, but also may increase a well's recoverable reserves.
Figure 2 shows a process flow diagram
of the multiphase compressor. A simple
vessel is located upstream of the compressor and serves two functions: filtering
out particulates from the liquid stream,
and acting as a slug suppressor. Since the
compressor is optimized for operation in
higher GVF ranges, it cannot handle pure
liquid slugs. The inlet vessel can suppress
any large slugs and help regulate the fraction of liquid entering the compressor.
For very large slugs, a recycle line can be
used to recirculate the gas portion of the
flow and work through large slugs that
have built up in the inlet vessel.
A second vessel is located downstream

Ambient Air
Heat Exchanger

Injection
Liquid
Reserve

MPCV MOV

To Multiphase
Pipeline
System

Flow Divider

TCV

of the compressor, and also serves two
purposes. First, it separates out some of
the liquids content, similar to a screw
compressor package. That liquid passes
through a cooler and is reinjected as
coolant, enabling the high compression
ratios. In an optimized system, the coolant
is capable of keeping discharge temperatures low enough to avoid the need for
an aftercooler. The downstream vessel's
second function is as a liquid reservoir to
allow coolant to be recirculated for injection even if the well runs dry for an
extended period.
Other than the two vessels, very little
additional packaging is required to support
a multiphase compressor. Depending on
the driver being used, a fuel gas system
can be integrated to make the package a
completely stand-alone system, as was
the case in the Eagle Ford applications.
For these field trials, additional instrumentation and controls were put in place
to allow for data collection and extra
safety shutdowns, but a package could
be constructed with minimal controls and
instrumentation requirements.
Eagle Ford Applications
The Statoil-operated Eagle Ford field
contains a number of wells, all feeding a
central receiving plant. The central plant
is equipped with compression at its intake,
maintaining approximately 300 psig suction pressures. This results in various
wells across the field seeing backpressures
from 350 to more than 500 psig. At the
time of testing, more than half of the
wells in the field were experiencing some
level of liquid loading issues.
The field is set up for producing multiphase flows, but without any compression
at the wellhead. Each well is equipped
with a test separator, but no production
separation or other facilities, making it
ideal to drop in a multiphase compressor
without requiring additional equipment.
Testing was conducted in two phases.
FEBRUARY 2018 49


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American Oil and Gas Reporter - February 2018

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