Wet gas compression of gas/condensate/water provides a business opportunity for oil and gas producers. There are several opportunities of particular note: 1) As well tail-end production commences, the installation of sub-sea compressors will provide enhanced oil recovery and, if the subsea compressor is capable of handling liquids, the subsea process complexity can be dramatically reduced, thus decreasing capital investments and possibly operational costs. 2) Topside and Onshore projects can also be dramatically simplified. This is the case for both new installations and modification projects for which wet gas compression is a suitable solution.
However, there are several challenges that need to be addressed before wet gas compression, by means of centrifugal compressors, can be considered as a robust commercial solution for future projects. This relates to the robustness of the mechanical design, effects on electrical systems, and issues related to performance. This paper will focus on challenges related to performance prediction and testing.
For conventional dry gas compressor design, performance prediction is usually undertaken by the compressor manufacturer, utilising in-house know-how in impeller design and selection. This specialised knowledge is potentially unsuitable for predicting wet gas performance in the design phase; hence, a wet gas compressor design may not meet design requirements specified by the customer.
It is typical that agreements on performance testing of centrifugal compressors state that these are to be conducted according to an international standard such as ASME PTC10 or ISO 5389. These standards require that the compressed gas is dry.
However, for wet gas compressors, no such internationally established standards exist for performance evaluation. Several of the requirements stipulated in the standards are challenging to apply to wet conditions and they do not ensure similar conditions. Such parameters including the maximum permissible deviation in the specific volume ratio, Mach number and Reynolds number. It is clear that the path towards a standard for wet gas performance testing will require a substantial amount of effort in order to establish new requirements related to wet gas similarity. Based on wet gas compressor test experience, challenges and requirements related to low pressure inert fluid, compared with full pressure actual fluid tests, are analysed and discussed.