Master of Science in Petroleum Engineering (MSPE)


Petroleum Engineering

Document Type



This research investigates the feasibility of the dynamic lubrication method of well control as an alternative to conventional stepwise lubrication. The applicability of flooding phenomena to dynamic lubrication and its use in an optimization method to maximize pumping rates was also investigated. An experimental approach was taken in which experiments were conducted in a 13’ long laboratory apparatus designed to emulate the geometry in a wellhead and also in a full-scale research well. The laboratory experiments were conducted to visually investigate the mechanism of flooding and derive a flooding correlation applicable to this type of system. The full-scale experiments were done to evaluate the dynamic lubrication method, compare it to conventional lubrication, attempt dynamic lubrication at high pumping rates, assess the applicability of flooding as the rate determining phenomenon, and identify any complications encountered during this process. The laboratory tests produced a correlation that was applicable over a range of 3 annular sizes. The equation resembled correlations from previous studies by Richter (1981) and Dempster(1984) and used dimensionless volumetric fluxes as the non-dimensional parameter. The full-scale tests showed that dynamic lubrication was more efficient in removing gas trapped at the wellhead, and reduced the severity of pressure fluctuations inherent in conventional stepwise lubrication. Pumping at constant high rates had an adverse effect on the process. This high pumping rate reduced the rate of accumulation of liquid in the well by 50% when compared to the more conservative pumping rates. The boundary between efficient and inefficient pump rates corresponded well to the correlation from laboratory tests if the relevant dimensions were assumed to be dependent on wellhead geometry. For this wellhead, the casing-casing annulus has a smaller cross sectional area and therefore higher velocities, which logically should control flooding. However, using the casing annulus geometry in the flooding correlation results in incorrect prediction of the onset of flooding unless revised coefficients are used. These revised coefficients were adopted for a proposed preliminary optimization method.



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Committee Chair

John Rogers Smith