Analytical Solutions for Free-Hydrocarbon Recovery using Skimmer and Dual-Pump Wells

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Accidental release of petroleum hydrocarbons to the subsurface may occur through spills around refineries, leaking pipelines, storage tanks or other sources. If the spill is large, the hydrocarbon liquids may eventually reach a water table and spread laterally in a pancake-like lens. Hydrocarbons that exist as a separate phase are termed light non-aqueous phase liquids (LNAPL). The portion of the LNAPL that is mobile, not entrapped as residual saturation, is termed free product. This paper presents new analytical solutions for the design of long-term free-product recovery from aquifers with skimmer-, single- and dual-pump wells. The solutions are for steady-state flow, based on the assumption of vertical equilibrium, and include the effect of coning of LNAPL, air, and water on flow. The solutions are valid for soils of large hydraulic conductivity where the effect of capillary pressure on coning is small. The results show how to estimate the maximum rate of inflow of LNAPL for skimmer wells, i.e. wells in which LNAPL is recovered with little or no water production. The paper also shows how to calculate the increase in LNAPL recovery when water is pumped by single or dual-pump wells. A simple equation is given

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