Recommendations and Comparisons for Selecting Artificial-Lift Methods(includes associated papers 28645 and 29092 )
- J.D. Clegg (Consultant) | S.M. Bucaram (Arco E and P Technology) | N.W. Hein (Conoco Inc.)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- December 1993
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 1,128 - 1,167
- 1993. Society of Petroleum Engineers
- 5.4.2 Gas Injection Methods, 3.1.3 Hydraulic and Jet Pumps, 4.2.3 Materials and Corrosion, 4.1.6 Compressors, Engines and Turbines, 1.10.1 Drill string components and drilling tools (tubulars, jars, subs, stabilisers, reamers, etc), 3.3.1 Production Logging, 4.3.3 Aspaltenes, 3.1.2 Electric Submersible Pumps, 2 Well Completion, 4.1.5 Processing Equipment, 2.4.3 Sand/Solids Control, 3.1.5 Plunger lift, 4.1.2 Separation and Treating, 3.1.7 Progressing Cavity Pumps, 5.6.4 Drillstem/Well Testing, 4.3.4 Scale, 3.1.6 Gas Lift, 1.14 Casing and Cementing, 5.2.1 Phase Behavior and PVT Measurements, 3.1 Artificial Lift Systems, 5.7.5 Economic Evaluations, 3.1.1 Beam and related pumping techniques
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Distinguished Author Series articles are general, descriptiverepresentations that summarize the state of the art in an area of technology bydescribing recent developments for readers who are not specialists in thetopics discussed. Written by individuals recognized as experts in the area,these articles provide key references to more definitive work and presentspecific details only to illustrate the technology. Purpose: to informthe general readership of recent advances in various areas of petroleumengineering.
Selecting the proper artificial-lift method is critical to the long-termprofitability of most producing oil and gas wells. This paper compares the mainselection attributes for the current eight major artificial-lift methods andprovides practical guidelines, based on practical and proven technology, on theperformance and operating capabilities of the methods. This paper covers beampumping, progressing cavity pumping, electric submersible pumping, hydraulicreciprocating pumping, hydraulic jet systems, continuous gas-lift systems,intermittent gas-lift systems, and plunger lift.
Correct selection of an artificial-lift method is important to the long-termprofitability of most producing oil wells. Proper artificial-lift methodselection also is very important for gas wells that load up with liquid and forcoalbed methane wells that must be dewatered. A poor choice can reduceproduction and increase operating costs substantially. Once a decision has beenmade on the type of lift to install on a well, it rarely is reviewed todetermine that the method selected was and still is the best choice forexisting conditions. In addition, changing the type of lift costs money andimplies that the wrong system was selected initially. Although prudentproduction engineering requires continuous review of the performance of thelift method to modify operating parameters or even to evaluate changing themethod, once a method is chosen, it usually stays in place.
A starting point in any selection process is to review current practices.Fig. 1 shows a review of about 500,000 U.S. oil wells on artificiallift. This database consists of a wide variety of conditions and a large numberof operators. Various types of sucker-rod pumps are used on about 85% of thewells. Gas lift, mostly continuous flow, comes in a distant second with lessthan 10% usage. Electric submersible pumps (ESP's) are used only 4% of thewells. All other lift methods (hydraulic reciprocating pumps, progressingcavity pumps, and plunger lift) represent less than 5% total usage.
Remember that about 400,000 of these wells are classified as stripper wellsthat produce <10 BOPD. When the stripper wells are excluded, the 100,000 orso remaining U.S. oil wells are relatively high-rate artificially lifted wells.Most of these wells (53%) are gas lifted. About 27% are on rod pumping, 10% areon ESP's, and <10% are on hydraulic pumps and jets. All other methods totalless than 1%. By far, the majority of offshore gas-lift wells are on continuousgas lift.
Proper selection of the best lift method usually is based on strongopinions. Operating personnel normally select the lift method with which theyare most familiar. Equipment suppliers or even in-house experts on a specificmethod usually recommend that their favorite method can be made to fit therequirements.
This "force-fit" selection usually results in the extension of thecapabilities or operating experience of the selected lift method. We typicallyfind that improvements made solve a new problem encountered as a result of apoor original choice. Thus, we must establish the normal and, more importantly,the practical operating capabilities of the major lift methods.
This paper compares eight major artificial-lift methods (Figs. 2 through7). Hydraulic reciprocating and jet pumps are combined in Fig. 5 becausetheir surface requirements are comparable; however, they have differentdownhole designs, applications, and capabilities. Similarly, continuous andintermittent gas lift are combined in Fig. 6.
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