Artificial-Sump-Pumping System Improves Production in Unconventional Oil Wells
- Adam Wilson (JPT Special Publications Editor)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- July 2018
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 58 - 59
- 2017. Society of Petroleum Engineers
- 3 in the last 30 days
- 108 since 2007
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This article, written by Special Publications Editor Adam Wilson, contains highlights of paper SPE 186254, “Improve Production in Unconventional Oil Wells Using Artificial-Sump-Pumping System,” by Reda Elmahbes, Regulo Quintero, and Agnetha Evelyta, Baker Hughes, a GE Company, prepared for the 2017 SPE/IATMI Asia Pacific Oil and Gas Conference and Exhibition, Bali, Indonesia, 17–19 October. The paper has not been peer reviewed.
Unconventional oil wells present challenges to electrical-submersible-pump (ESP) systems and can limit production potential. An artificial-sump-pumping system used in unconventional oil wells with steep decline curves and high amounts of free gas has been shown to operate reliably and economically. This paper presents a comparison of conventional ESP methods and artificial-sump systems for which free gas and gas slugs are a challenge.
Unconventional oil wells usually have inadequate reservoir permeability. To enable a significant amount of fluid flow from the reservoir to the wellbore, the wells are drilled horizontally and multistage hydraulic fracturing is performed to expose as much reservoir to the wellbore as possible.
The long horizontal laterals create unique production challenges. As the reservoir pressure declines in unconventional reservoirs, gas is released from the fluid and accumulates in hump undulations of the horizontal section. When the gas slugs break free, they create cycling and gas locking that has a negative effect on system performance and reliability. Repeated shutdowns because of gas locking have a negative effect on the production and longevity of the artificial-lift system. Reducing the running time for an artificial-lift system can significantly increase operator capital and operational expenses (OPEX).
Some gas slugs can be very large and can create a low-flow or no-flow condition that is challenging for most artificial-lift systems. Therefore, gas slugs must be separated from the liquid before entering the downhole pump to improve production and enhance artificial-lift-system reliability. Designing a system that can avoid slugs and prevent excessive amounts of gas from entering the downhole pumping system is crucial to produce economically from unconventional oil wells.
An artificial-sump-pumping system is a new form of gas mitigation that uses an ESP artificial-lift method with an inverted shroud that surrounds the entire system. The ESP is equipped with a recirculation system to keep the ESP motor cool during slugs. In addition, the fully encapsulated system has enhanced motor-lead-extension (MLE) protection that helps avoid cable damage during run in hole (RIH), especially for 5½-in.-casing applications. This solution is mainly used for wells that are very gassy and have the potential for gas slugs.
Fig. 1 shows a schematic for an artificial sump with a recirculation system.
Optional components are recommended to be used on the basis of well conditions and fluid characteristics. For instance, a sand-control system is recommended for applications where sand and abrasive risk is high.
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