Liquid Loading

Liquid loading is the accumulation of liquids (water or condensate or both) in the wellbore, and can be addressed by several methods of artificial lift, including plunger lift, gas lift, and capillary injection systems. When the weight of a liquid droplet due to gravity overcomes the drag exerted by the rising gas in a column, liquid falls back and tends to accumulate at the bottom of the well. It occurs in vertical or deviated wells during production from natural gas reservoirs as a consequence of condensation and coalescence of liquids from gas streams.

This is common in both offshore and onshore production systems. Engineers are often tasked to identify and correct this type of production problem through operational changes (e.g. reducing wellhead pressure). Similarly, based on field experience, engineers can plan the well completion in advance and/or select tubing size to address expected liquid loading issues.

Potential Solutions:

  • Reducing the cross-section area where the fluid is moving to increase gas velocity. For example: running tubing if the well is producing with casing, running a velocity string (smaller pipe size), running a tapered tubing completion, producing through a casing-tubing or CT-tubing annulus
  • Installing Gas lift
  • Installing Plunger lift
  • Installing Capillary Strings to deliver foam agents/chemicals to decrease surface tension and reduce liquid density
  • Reduce wellhead pressure with a compressor to increase fluid velocity in the wellbore
  • Installing Automation SCADA

Liquid loading has remained a menace and a fundamental problem in gas wells as all gas wells will undergo this phase in their productive life cycle. It is more pronounced in aging fields but can also occur in new wells having poor completion designs. When improperly managed, liquid loading will cause a drastic drop in production and when left unattended, will cause the well to cease production.

Several methods are available in aiding and managing production when severe liquid loading occurs.

Still experiencing issues or have questions? We can help. Our experts can work with your production team or create a custom well design. Contact us to coordinate with our local team and we will get back with you promptly.