Design of a Barrier Feature in a Gas Lift Valve

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Sponsor: Baker-Hughes, Inc.

Date: Fall 2010

Requirements:
The gas lift system is installed at the start of oil and/or gas production and stays inactive until needed, when production rates fall to an undesirable level. For this period of more than twenty years, the barrier feature, which fits in the lower packing sub area of the gas lift valve, must be resistant to the extreme subterranean temperatures and pressures. The hydrogen sulfide present in the reservoir fluid also creates a highly corrosive environment. Thus, the barrier feature must withstand these conditions without leaking.

Problem:
Our design team was tasked with designing a barrier feature for the gas lift valves used to inject pressurized nitrogen gas into an oil well for artificial lift when production rates are too low.

Solution:
Our team focused on two solutions: a plunger design and a redesigned rupture disk. Analysis indicates that current plunger design is flawed and will not meet the flow requirements of the sponsor. The rupture disk design, on the other hand, meets the requirements and is better suited to function as intended. Analysis demonstrates that the design will rupture under the injection pressures and will not restrict the gas flow. The rupture disk will be beneficial in the long run because it can be refitted for multiple uses. The whole assembly will no longer have to be replaced.

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