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Gas Lift Optimization for Long-Term

Reservoir Simulations
Pengju Wang, SPE, and Michael Litvak, SPE, BP

Summary iterative procedure. The surface-network optimizer uses a sequen-

Although various gas lift optimization algorithms have been pro- tial quadratic programming (SQP) optimization algorithm and has
posed in literature, few are suitable for long-term reservoir- the ability to perform general operation and design optimizations.
development studies, which require the gas lift optimizer to be Davidson and Beckner (2003) presented an integrated facility and
highly efficient, flexible, and powerful enough to handle compli- reservoir model in which the rate-allocation problem is solved in
cated fluid flows and operational constraints while having minimal the facility model with SQP methods. They also presented a de-
impact on simulator convergence rates. This paper investigates tailed procedure on how to handle unfeasible conditions. Kosmidis
methods to address these important issues. et al. (2004) developed a mixed-integer nonlinear optimization
The gas lift optimization problem considered in this paper is to formulation to address gas lift optimization problems involving
maximize daily hydrocarbon production by selecting optimally the flow interactions through common flowlines. The resulting model
well-production and lift-gas rates subject to pressure and rate is solved by a variation of the sequential linear-programming
constraints in nodes of the surface pipeline network (SPN) and to (SLP) method. Ray and Sarker (2006) applied a multiobjective
the amount of lift gas available. The problem is regarded as a evolutionary approach to gas lift optimization problems. In their
well-management problem in a commercial reservoir simulator method, the multiobjective formulation eliminates the need to
capable of simulating multiphase compositional fluid flow in res- solve gas lift optimization problems on a daily basis while main-
ervoirs, well tubing strings, SPN systems, and separation facilities. taining the quality of solutions.
The problem is solved in selected iterations of a reservoir- The Fang and Lo (1996) method is simple and efficient. How-
simulation timestep. ever, it ignores the pressure interactions among wells through com-
This paper proposed a method for the described gas lift opti- mon flowlines and may result in unrealistic results. The methods of
mization problem and investigated its performance against mul- Hepguler et al. (1997), Davidson and Beckner (2003), and Kos-
tiple existing methods. Case studies showed that the new method midis et al. (2004) relied on powerful nonlinear optimization tools.
is capable of producing high-quality results while requiring less This paper bridges this gap by presenting a simple, yet robust and
CPU time for optimization and having a smaller impact on reser- efficient, rate-allocation optimization procedure. In addition, this
voir-simulator convergence. paper presents a methodology that uses the concept of multiobjec-
This paper also applied the concept of multiobjective optimi- tive optimization (Miettinen 1999) to minimize the impact of lift-
zation to smooth rate oscillations between adjacent iterations by gas rate oscillations on simulation convergence. This method was
sacrificing a certain amount of oil production. This method was proved to be successful in tested cases.
proved to be successful in tested cases. Problem Statement
The optimization problem is to maximize daily hydrocarbon pro-
Introduction duction by optimally selecting well-production and lift-gas rates
In mature-oilfield operations, hydrocarbon production is often as- subject to the pressure and rate constraints of surface facilities.
sisted by continuous lift-gas injection and constrained by the gas- This optimization problem is considered a well-management prob-
handling and/or liquid-handling capacities of surface facilities. Op- lem in VIP (Landmark 2003), a commercial reservoir simulator
timal allocation of production and lift gas-rates is subject to res- capable of simulating multiphase compositional fluid flow in res-
ervoir deliverability and surface-facility capacities. These can have ervoirs, well tubing strings, SPN systems, and separation facilities.
a big impact on facility design and other capital-investment deci- Wang et al. (2002) developed a procedure to integrate this opti-
sions and should be captured in long-term reservoir studies. Com- mization problem into VIP. This procedure is presented below:
pared to real-time production optimization, the optimal rate allo- 1. Start with pressure and fluid compositions in reservoir grid-
cation in long-term reservoir-simulation studies poses unique blocks calculated in the previous Newton iteration. Use well lift-
problems: the rate-allocation optimizer must be highly efficient, gas rates from the previous Newton iteration as the initial guesses.
and it must have a minimal impact on simulation convergence 2. Solve the SPN problem, and convert pressure constraints to
while generating quality results. flow-rate constraints. This step was presented in detail by Litvak
The stated problem has been addressed in a variety of ways in and Darlow (1995).
the petroleum industry. Fang and Lo (1996) proposed a linear 3. Perform production- and lift-gas-rate allocation optimization
programming technique to allocate lift-gas rates and production if the number of Newton iterations performed in the current
streams subject to multiple flow-rate constraints. The method was timestep is below a predetermined number.
implemented in a reservoir simulator and was demonstrated to be 4. Determine active constraints in wells and nodes. Linearize
efficient in several field studies. On the basis of Fang and Lo’s multiphase-fluid-flow equations for well tubing strings and the
work, Wang et al. (2002) developed a procedure to optimally SPN system (numerical derivatives are used). Add these equations
allocate the production rate, lift-gas rate, and well connections to to the linearized fluid-flow equations for reservoir gridblocks.
surface pipeline systems simultaneously. Their optimization step is 5. Solve the linearized system of equations established in Step 4.
invoked at the Newton-iteration level of a commercial reservoir 6. Repeat Steps 1 through 5 until convergence.
simulator. Hepguler et al. (1997) coupled a separate commercial 7. March to the next timestep.
SPN optimizer with a commercial reservoir simulator through an Wang et al. (2002) adopted the separable-programming (SP)
method of Fang and Lo (1996) to solve the rate-allocation problem
in Step 3. This method works as follows:
1. Construct a gas lift performance curve (oil-rate vs. lift-gas-
Copyright © 2008 Society of Petroleum Engineers
rate curve) and inflow performance curves (oil-rate vs. water-rate
This paper (SPE 90506) was accepted for presentation at the 2004 SPE Annual Technical curve and oil-rate vs. formation-gas-rate curve) for every well on
Conference and Exhibition, Houston, 26–29 September, and revised for publication. Origi-
nal manuscript received for review 22 March 2005. Revised manuscript received for review
automatic gas lift allocation. In current implementation, a mini-
12 June 2007. Paper peer approved 23 August 2007. mum gas lift efficiency parameter (defined as the oil-rate increase

February 2008 SPE Reservoir Evaluation & Engineering 147

for a unit of lift-gas injection) can be specified. A gas lift perfor- 6. Repeat Steps 2 through 5 for every well on automatic lift-
mance curve is constructed in such a way that its slope at the end gas allocation.
of the curve should be larger than or equal to the user-specified 7. Repeat Steps 2 through 6 until no lift-gas-rate change can be
minimum gas lift efficiency. made or the maximum number of iterations allowed is reached.
2. Approximate the gas lift and inflow performance curves with
piecewise linear curves. Constraint Handling. For a set of lift-gas rates q៝ lg, the corre-
3. Formulate the constrained gas lift optimization problem as a sponding production rates (q៝ o, q៝ w, and q៝ g) may exceed the flow-rate
linear-programming problem. and/or velocity constraints, and not be feasible. The overall gas lift
4. Solve the linear-programming problem, and obtain the opti- optimization method used a linear-programming model developed
mal lift-gas rates. by Lo et al. (1995) to scale the unfeasible lift-gas and production
A detailed description of this method can be found in Fang and rates to the feasible region. This linear-programming model takes
Lo (1996) and Wang (2003). a set of flow streams (either from production wells or from satellite
When the Wang et al. (2002) procedure was applied to several reservoirs) as the input and scales them to meet flow-rate and
field case studies, two major limitations of that procedure velocity constraints in a way that maximizes the objective func-
were exposed. tion. A flow stream is represented by the unconstrained oil, water,
1. The SP method requires a gas lift performance curve and two formation-gas, and lift-gas rates of a well or a satellite reservoir.
inflow performance curves for each well on gas lift optimization. For example, to maximize the total oil rate of a field subject to a
Each curve has to be established after the corresponding well is total-gas-rate constraint, the problem can be formulated as:
isolated from the SPN by ignoring the backpressure imposed by nw
other wells. Consequently, the method may produce significantly
suboptimal solutions when the flow interactions among wells Maximize 兺 xជ q
i o,i, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (3a)
are significant.
2. The gas lift optimization problem is solved in selected New-
ton iterations. Fluctuations of reservoir and operation conditions
can cause significant oscillations of lift-gas rate allocated in dif-
Subject to 兺 xជ 共q
i g,i + qlg,i兲 ⱕ Qg, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (3b)

ferent iterations and may lead to convergence difficulties for a 0 ⱕ xជi ⱕ 1, i = 1, . . . , nw, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (3c)
reservoir simulation.
This paper addresses the first and second problem by present- where nw is the number of flow streams; xជi denotes the decision
ing a simple, yet effective, gas lift optimization algorithm. This variable for this problem; Qg is the total gas-flow-rate capacity of
paper also addresses the second problem by introducing a multi- the field; and qo,i, qg,i, and qlg,i are the oil, formation-gas, and
objective optimization formulation to minimize the lift-gas-rate lift-gas rates for Well i, respectively. In the optimal solution, xi⳱0
oscillations while maximizing the oil production. indicates that Well i should be shut in; xi=1 indicates that Well i
should produce at rates qo,i, qg,i, and qlg,i; and xi ∈ (0,1) indicates
Gas Lift Optimization Procedure that Well i should be choked back.
Overall Method. The gas lift optimization method developed in In this formulation, all the flow-rate constraints of the gas lift
this study takes into account flow interactions among wells optimization are satisfied. The optimal objective-function value of
through common surface pipelines. The method works as follows: Eq. 3 is regarded as the objective-function value corresponding to
1. Start with the existing lift-gas rates for all wells on automatic a set of lift-gas rates q៝ lg specified in Steps 1, 2, and/or 4 of the
lift-gas allocation. Solve the multiphase-flow problem in the SPN. overall gas lift optimization method.
Build a linear-programming model (described later in the Con-
straint Handling section) to scale production and lift-gas rates to Discussion. The results generated by the new gas lift optimization
satisfy flow-rate and/or velocity constraints. Denote the objective procedure will be suboptimal because of the following two facts:
function value obtained in this step as f 0. 1. The function evaluation procedure employed in the overall
2. Select a well on automatic lift-gas-rate allocation, Well i. optimization algorithm uses an optimization procedure with sim-
Denote its lift-gas rate at this stage as q0lg,i. Increase its lift-gas rate plified assumptions. As a result, the function value obtained from
by␦qlg,i. Solve the multiphase-flow problem in the SPN with the this procedure is only an approximation.
updated lift-gas rates, and scale production and lift-gas rates to 2. The new method is a local search method and may get stuck
satisfy the flow-rate constraints. The value of the objective func- at a local suboptimal point. In several case studies, it was demon-
tion obtained in this step is f 1. strated that the new method produces quality results for long-term
3. Compute the gas lift efficiency for Well i using Eq. 1: reservoir-development studies.
emin is a parameter used to control how easily a lift-gas rate can
f1 − f0 escape from its current value. If emin is large, the lift-gas rate is not
e= . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (1) sensitive to small changes in reservoir and operation conditions.
␦qlg,i Consequently, the result will be less near the true optimum, but
If eⱖemin, where emin is the user-specified minimum gas lift effi- there will be a lesser simulation-convergence problem from lift-
ciency coefficient, update f 0 by setting f 0⳱f 1, and go to Step 6 gas-rate oscillations. Conversely, if emin is small, the allocated
with the increased lift-gas rate for Well i. If 0ⱕeⱕemin, reset the lift-gas rates will be more noisy, but the solution will be closer to
lift-gas rate of Well i to q0lg,i and go to Step 6. If e<0, reset the the true optimum.
lift-gas rate of Well i to q0lg,i and go to Step 4. To facilitate later discussions, the above overall gas lift opti-
4. Decrease the lift-gas rate of Well i by ␦qlg,i, where ␦qlg,i>0. mization method will be referred to as the GLINC method.
Solve the multiphase-flow problem in the SPN with the updated
lift-gas rates. Optimally scale the production rates and lift gas rates Lift-Gas-Rate Damping
to satisfy flow-rate constraints. The value of the objective function For constrained gas lift optimization problems, there may exist
in this step is f 2. cases in which multiple vastly different lift-gas distributions result
5. Compute the gas lift efficiency for Well i with Eq. 2: in similar total-oil-rate increases. For such cases, although moving
from the current gas lift injection scenario to another gas lift in-
f2 − f0 jection scenario may increase the total oil production by only a
e= . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (2) small amount, the resulting production rates for individual wells
− ␦qlg,i
can be significantly different, making simulation convergence dif-
If eⱖemin, update f 0 by setting f 0⳱f 2, and go to Step 6 with the ficult to achieve. When gas lift injection scenarios oscillate fre-
decreased lift-gas rate for Well i. Otherwise, reset the lift-gas rate quently in different Newton iterations, the computational effi-
of Well i to q0lg,i. ciency of the simulation run deteriorates significantly. In the

148 February 2008 SPE Reservoir Evaluation & Engineering

GLINC method, this problem can be mitigated by use of a large Field Examples
value for emin. For the SP method, a different strategy was used. The GLINC gas lift optimization method and the lift-gas damping
This strategy is described below. method were applied successfully to the full-field long-term de-
To minimize the impact of lift-gas oscillation on simulation velopment studies of two North Sea oil fields. These application
convergence, the gas lift optimization problem in VIP was refor- examples demonstrate the advantages and shortcomings of the
mulated as a multiobjective optimization problem (Miettinen developed methods.
1999) with two competing objectives:
1. Maximize the total-oil-production rate subject to the flow- Field Example 1. A full-field model was developed to study the
rate and velocity constraints. This objective can be expressed long-term development plan of a North Sea oil field. The model
mathematically as contains 21 production wells, with all but one production well on
nw automatic lift-gas allocation. These wells are tied to a processing
f1 = 兺q
o,i. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (4)
center through an SPN system. The production system is organized
in such a way that the production wells are divided into two
2. Minimize the absolute change of lift-gas rates between two groups. Wells within each group share at least one common flow-
consecutive Newton iterations subject to the flow-rate and velocity line. As a consequence of the SPN, the production rates of some
constraints. This objective can be expressed mathematically as wells interfere with each other through the common flowlines.
The goal of this field study is to investigate the appropriate
nw surface-facility capacities of the field and their impact on long-
f2 = 兺 |q
lg,i − qlg,i
| , . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (5) term production profiles. Total lift-gas-injection rate, as well as
total oil-, gas-, water-, and liquid-flow-rate constraints, is specified
in the model. The optimal allocation of lift-gas rates and produc-
where q0lg,i is the lift-gas rate of Well i allocated in the previous
tion rates from this simulation is crucial to identify the optimal
iteration and qlg,i is the lift-gas rate of Well i to be allocated in the
facility capacities and corresponding rate profiles.
current Newton iteration.
The full-field model was first run with the SP rate-allocation
The multiobjective optimization problem was solved by a hi-
method. The minimum gas lift efficiency was specified as 50
erarchical optimization method (Azarm 2002; Wang 2003). This
STB/Mscf. One concern with this case was whether the SP method
method allows the decision maker to rank and optimize the objec-
was suitable for this model. The SP method builds the inflow and
tives in descending order of importance. For this particular gas lift
gas lift performance curves by isolating a well from the SPN and
optimization problem, the first objective f 1 is the most important,
assumes that the resulting performance curves represent the per-
and the second objective f 2 is the least important. The decision
formance of the well in the entire production system. However,
variable of the optimization problem is x៝. The flow-rate and ve-
this assumption does not hold for this model because some wells
locity constraints are
have noticeable interference through common flowlines. This is
ci共x៝ 兲 ⱕ 0, i = 1, . . . , m. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (6) shown in Fig. 1, where the oil rate of Well A1 from the gas lift
optimization in the first Newton iteration was far from the gas lift
The solution procedure for the multiobjective optimization prob- performance curve built for that optimization. Although in subse-
lem is as follows: quent Newton iterations, the post-optimization oil rate of Well A1
1. Find the optimum point x៝1,* for the first objective, f 1, subject converged to the gas lift performance curve built for the SP gas lift
to the original set of constraints: optimization in corresponding Newton iterations, the concern re-
mained over whether the lift-gas rates allocated from the SP
Maximize f 1共x៝ 兲, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (7a) method are suitable for this long-term reservoir-development study.
To assess the performance of the SP method, the GLINC
Subject to ci共x៝ 兲 ⱕ 0, i = 1, . . . , m. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (7b) method was used to allocate lift-gas and production rates for the
As in Fang and Lo (1996) and Wang (2003), this problem can same production objective. In this case, emin was set to 10 STB/
be reformulated to and solved as a linear-programming problem. Mscf at the beginning of the run. This was done to ensure that the
Let f 1,*(x៝1,*) denote the optimal value of the objective function optimization did not get stuck at a point far from the optimal
(Eq. 7a). lift-gas rates. After the first timestep, emin was set to a bigger value
2. Find the optimum point x៝2,* for the second objective function of 50 STB/Mscf so that the lift-gas rates change less frequently and
f 2 subject to the original and an additional constraint: the simulator runs faster. ␦qlg,i was fixed at 500 Mscf/D. The
maximum number of iterations allowed in the GLINC method was
Minimize f 2共x៝ 兲, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (8a) set to 12.
Although the GLINC method handles the flow interactions
Subject to ci共x៝ 兲 ⱕ 0, i = 1, . . . , m, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (8b) among wells explicitly, it is a heuristic search method and does not

f 1共x៝ 兲 ⱖ 共1 − ␣兲 f 1,*共x៝1,*兲, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (8c)

where ␣ ∈ [0,1] is the damping factor. If ␣ equals 0, the solution
is x៝1,*, and there is no lift-gas-rate damping. If ␣⳱1, the solution
will be the lift-gas rates of the previous Newton iteration, q0lg,i. By
adjusting the damping factor between 0 and 1, the competition
between maximizing the total oil production, f 1, and minimizing
the discrepancy of lift-gas rates between two consecutive Newton
iterations, f 2, can be balanced. With appropriate reformulations
(Bertsimas and Tsitsiklis 1997), this problem also can be solved as
a linear-programming problem.
Although two optimization problems need to be solved in the
hierarchical method, the CPU time is increased only slightly com-
pared to the original single-objective optimization problem if the
SP method is used to solve Eqs. 7 and 8. The reason is that for the
SP method, the majority of computational time is spent on con-
structing the gas lift and inflow performance curves. Once the Fig. 1—Gas lift performance curves and the allocated lift-gas
performance curves are established, it takes relatively little extra and oil rates for Well A1 at first three Newton iterations of the
time to formulate and solve these problems. first timestep. The oil rate and lift-gas rates are normalized.

February 2008 SPE Reservoir Evaluation & Engineering 149

Fig. 2—Field Example 1: normalized field cumulative oil produc- Fig. 3—Field Example 1: normalized field daily lift-gas rates
tion allocated by the four rate-allocation methods. allocated by the four rate-allocation methods.

guarantee local optimums. To verify the performance of the SP and because the SP and GLINC methods have parameters to control
GLINC method further, two conventional optimization methods the balance between injection costs and oil-rate increases, while
were applied to the constrained gas lift optimization problem. The the current implementations of the GA method and COBYLA
first method is a genetic algorithm (GA) (Holland 1975). In this method do not have this functionality. Figs. 4, 5, and 6 compare
method, the lift-gas rates for wells on automatic lift-gas allocation the lift-gas rate, oil rate, and gas/oil ratio (GOR) allocated by the
are selected as the decision variables and encoded as a binary four optimization methods for Well A2, respectively. The lift-gas
string (or genes). This method encodes multiple sets of solutions rates allocated by the four methods follow roughly the same trend.
(lift-gas-rate distributions) into populations, evaluates the fitness Although the absolute lift-gas-rate differences between the four
of each population (total oil rate for a given set of lift-gas rates methods are significant, oil rates and GORs are similar. For a gas
subject to flow-rate constraints), and evolves the populations lifted well, gas lift efficiency decreases to a small value as the
through a number of generations by means of selection, crossover, lift-gas rate increases beyond a certain value. In actual field op-
and mutation. As in the GLINC method, the flow-rate constraints erations, the wells will be operated with lift-gas rates similar to
of surface facilities are handled in the function evaluation proce- those obtained from the GLINC method, which are considered to
dure using the linear-programming model (Lo et al. 1995) de- be optimal in this study.
scribed in the section on Constraint Handling. In this example, the Efficiencies of the four optimization methods are compared in
population size was set to 10, and each GA optimization took Table 1. For all runs, gas lift optimizations were invoked only in
20 generations. the first three Newton iterations of a timestep. Because the SP and
The second method is a direct-search algorithm that tries to GLINC methods usually require much less CPU time for a single
maintain a regularly shaped simplex throughout the iterations. The instance of gas lift optimization than is required by the GA and
method used in this study was implemented by Powell (1992) and COBYLA methods, the timestep controls of the four runs were
is referred to in this paper as the COBYLA method. As in the GA handled differently to optimize the total CPU time required for
method, the lift-gas rate for each well on automatic lift-gas allo- individual runs. The runs with the SP and GLINC methods had a
cation is selected as the decision variable, and the flow-rate con- maximum timestep size of 6 days, while the runs with the GA and
straints of surface facilities are handled in the function evaluation COBYLA methods had a maximum timestep size of 10 days,
procedure using the linear-programming model (Lo et al. 1995). resulting in a lower total number of timesteps and, thus, a lower
Results from the four different rate-allocation methods are number of gas lift optimization calls than the same runs with a
shown in Figs. 2 through 6. Although the field cumulative oil maximum timestep of 6 days would have had. Under these set-
productions from the four optimization methods are close (Fig. 2), tings, Table 1 shows that runs with the SP and GLINC methods
the daily field lift-gas-injection volumes from the four methods are required significantly less CPU time on both well management and
significantly different (Fig. 3). The SP and GLINC methods allo- overall simulation than the runs with the GA and COBYLA meth-
cated significantly less lift gas than the GA and COBYLA methods ods required.

Fig. 4—Field Example 1: normalized lift gas rate for Well A2 Fig. 5—Field Example 1: normalized oil rate for Well A2 allo-
allocated by the four rate-allocation methods. cated by the four rate-allocation methods.

150 February 2008 SPE Reservoir Evaluation & Engineering

Fig. 6—Field Example 1: normalized GOR for Well A2 allocated
by the four rate-allocation methods.
In both cases, the lift-gas-rate damping method was successful
at reducing lift-gas-rate oscillations. In Case 1, the lift-gas-rate
In summary, both the SP and GLINC methods produced rea- oscillations caused only minor convergence issues for the reservoir
sonable results and were much more efficient than the GA and simulator; consequently, the damping method did not show ben-
COBYLA methods. efits in reducing the number of iterations or total CPU time (Table
2). However, in Case 2, the lift-gas-rate oscillations caused sig-
Field Example 2. In this example, automatic gas lift allocation nificant convergence issues, and the damping method was able to
was considered for a field with 18 production wells. All of the reduce the number of iterations and total CPU time to the same
wells are on automatic lift-gas allocation when they are in production. level as those of Case 1 (Table 2).
Two case studies of this model are presented here. In Case 1,
total oil-, water-, and liquid-flow-rate constraints were specified. Conclusions
When the SP method without lift-gas-rate damping was used, some 1. The developed GLINC method is simple and easy to implement.
wells had significant lift-gas-rate oscillations. To overcome this Although the method is a local search method and handles the
problem, a second run was made using a lift-gas-rate damping flow-rate constraints with approximations, it generates reason-
factor of 0.02. As a result, the lift-gas rate for individual wells was able results for long-term simulation studies, as verified by the
greatly smoothed (Fig. 7). The field cumulative oil production has SP, GA, and COBYLA methods.
discernable differences from that of the first run only at the very 2. The SP method does not handle flow interactions through com-
end of the simulation (Fig. 8), demonstrating that oscillations have mon flowlines; however, its execution in consecutive Newton
little impact on overall field behavior. Table 2 shows that the CPU iterations can mitigate this shortcoming.
time required by the second run is slightly less than the CPU time 3. The GLINC and SP methods have distinctive characteristics.
required by the first run. The GLINC method is more rigorous in function evaluation.
Case 2 is a variation of Case 1. The major difference is that However, it does not guarantee local optimums. The SP method
Case 2 contains a total gas-flow-rate constraint, as well as the total uses significant simplifications in its function evaluations, but it
oil-, water-, and liquid-flow-rate constraints of Case 1. Two runs guarantees the global optimum of the reformulated linear-
were made to demonstrate the effect of lift-gas-rate damping. The programming optimization problem. These two methods can be
first run had no lift-gas-rate damping, while the second run speci- used as alternative and verification methods for each other.
fied a lift-gas-rate damping factor of 0.02. For this case, the run 4. It was verified by the GA and COBYLA methods that both the
with lift-gas-rate damping consumed only 32% of the CPU time SP and GLINC methods are efficient and capable of generating
required by the run without lift-gas-rate damping (Table 2), while quality results for some models with flow interactions among
the lift rates for individual wells were smoothed to various degrees wells through common flowlines.
(Fig. 9). Cumulative oil production for the field was impacted only 5. The new lift-gas-rate damping method can mitigate lift-gas-rate
slightly (Fig. 10). oscillations of individual wells significantly, reducing the ex-

Fig. 7—Field Example 2, Case 1: normalized daily lift-gas rate Fig. 8—Field Example 2, Case 1: normalized field cumulative oil
for Well A3 obtained from the SP method with and with- production obtained from the SP method with and with-
out damping. out damping.

February 2008 SPE Reservoir Evaluation & Engineering 151

cessive number of iterations caused by the lift-gas-rate oscilla- Davidson, J.E. and Beckner, B.L. 2003. Integrated Optimization for Rate
tions, thereby reducing total CPU time while yielding a reason- Allocation in Reservoir Simulation. SPEREE 6 (6): 426–432. SPE-
able result. 87309-PA. DOI: 10.2118/87309-PA.
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ci(x៝) ⳱ ith constraint function of decision variable x៝ DOI: 10.2118/29124-PA.
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88–92. SPE-38937-PA. DOI: 10.2118/38937-PA.
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f ⳱ objective function
Arbor, Michigan: The University of Michigan Press.
Qg ⳱ number of constraints
Kosmidis, V.D., Perkins, J.D., and Pistikopoulos, E.N. 2004. Optimization
nw ⳱ number of wells
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qg,i ⳱ formation-gas rate of Well i, Mscf/D ie034171z.
q៝ lg ⳱ well lift-gas rates, Mscf/D Landmark. 2003. VIP-EXECUTIVE Technical Reference. Houston: Land-
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x៝ ⳱ decision variable of an optimization problem head Pressure Constraints in Compositional Simulation. Paper SPE
␣ ⳱ damping factor for the lift-gas-rate damping method 29125 presented at the SPE Reservoir Simulation Symposium, San
␦qlg,i ⳱ lift-gas-rate change for Well i in the GLINC gas lift Antonio, Texas, 12–15 February. DOI: 10.2118/29125-MS.
optimization method Lo, K.K., Starley, G.P., and Holden, C.W. 1995. Application of Linear
Programming to Reservoir Development Evaluations. SPERE 10 (1):
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The authors would like to acknowledge Peter Clifford and Chris
sachusetts: Kluwer Academic Publishers.
Macdonald for their support and valuable comments. The authors
also thank the management of BP for granting permission to pub- Powell, J.M.D. 1992. A direct search optimization method that models the
lish this paper. objective and constraint functions by linear interpolation. DAMTP/
NA5, Cambridge, England.
References Ray, T. and Sarker, R. 2006. Multiobjective Evolutionary Approach to the
Solution of Gas Lift Optimization Problems. IEEE Congress on Evo-
Azarm, S. Class Notes for Multiobjective Optimization. http:// lutionary Computation, 16–21 July, 3182–3188.∼azarm/optimum_notes/multi/multi.html. Down-
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Belmont, Massachusetts: Athena Scientific.

Fig. 9—Field Example 2, Case 2: normalized daily lift-gas rate Fig. 10—Field Example 2, Case 2: normalized field cumulative
for Well A4 obtained from the SP method with and with- oil production obtained from the SP method with and with-
out damping. out damping.

152 February 2008 SPE Reservoir Evaluation & Engineering

Wang, P., Litvak, M.L., and Aziz, K. 2002. Optimization of Production duction optimization, reservoir management, and water-
From Mature Fields. 17th World Petroleum Congress, Rio de Janeiro, injection planning. He holds a BS degree in mechanical engi-
1–5 September. neering from the University of Science and Technology of
China and MS and PhD degrees in petroleum engineering
from Stanford University. Michael L. Litvak is a reservoir engi-
neering advisor with BP Exploration and Production Technol-
SI Metric Conversion Factors ogy Group in Houston, where he has worked since 1988. Pre-
bbl × 1.589 873 E–01 ⳱ m3 viously, Litvak taught courses on applied mathematics at Case
Western Reserve University and worked as a consultant at Con-
ft × 2.831 685 E–02 ⳱ m3 cept XX1 Consulting. He has published many SPE papers on
field-development optimization, integrated reservoir and facil-
ity simulation, and reservoir-modeling methodology. Litvak
Pengju Wang is a reservoir engineer at BP, based in Houston. holds an MS degree in petroleum engineering from Moscow
email: Wang joined BP in 2002 and Oil & Gas University (Russia) and a PhD degree in applied
has 5 years of industrial experience in reservoir simulation, pro- mathematics from the Academy of Sciences (USSR).

February 2008 SPE Reservoir Evaluation & Engineering 153