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Design and Analysis of Surface Facility of Adelaide University Test Well

Lu, Han

Engineering Honours Degree 2009

University of Adelaide


Australian school of petroleum is one of only three universities in the world that has its own research and teaching well located next to its building. The well was drilled to a total depth of 154 m and completed in 2001. This project is one of the two final year honours projects (downhole completion and surface facility design) offered to petroleum engineering students this year. It was mainly supervised by engineers from Santos Ltd. The completion of the well simulator will mark a new chapter for the school. It enables the school to train students in a more practical manner. Experiments can be set up to demonstrate important concepts such as multiphase flow in pipe, well unloading and surface processing. The objective of the project was to plan and complete initial design for surface facility of the test well.

The project was divided into three segments. First task was the literature review of the current available concepts and techniques for gas/liquid separation, gas compression, fluid transportation and storage. Initial candidates were selected for processes and equipments.

The next segment was the initial design. Once the design basis and constraints were identified, stream and sizing calculations were performed in Excel spreadsheets. This process was run iteratively until specifications met design requirements. In addition, process flow diagram and plant layout were produced.

The last segment was the parametric analysis using Excel model to optimise plant performance. Sensitivity tests were conducted to investigate the effect of fluid rates and compression ratio on air compression, separation and pump performance. The results found high compression ratio led to a high discharge temperature and pressure. Hence a multiple stage compression was required to pump air to the bottom hole. Pump curve analysis assured that the set up under design condition was adequate for pumping and cavitation prevention.

The project is made ongoing. It was recommended that investigations should be set up to examine the impact of back pressure at wellhead and additional flow regimes on drawdown in the future. It was also recommended to add heat shields at compressor bearing or impeller to combat heat stresses and corrosion inhibitors in the production fluids to counter corrosive carbon dioxide content in the water. Project is to be proceeded to detail design stage next. This includes detail equipment specification, safety analysis, plant operability study, sustainability and environmental assessment, and procurement. Project can be further improved by suitable selection of future project undertakers, and encouragement of industrial and university inter departmental involvement.

Australian School of Petroleum



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