Predicting the Behavior of Sucker-Rod Pumping Systems
- S.G. Gibbs (Shell Development Co.)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- July 1963
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 769 - 778
- 1963. Original copyright American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers, Inc. Copyright has expired.
- 3.1.1 Beam and related pumping techniques, 1.10 Drilling Equipment, 4.1.5 Processing Equipment, 4.1.4 Gas Processing, 5.2.1 Phase Behavior and PVT Measurements, 4.1.2 Separation and Treating
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Sucker-rod pumping systems are used in approximately 90 per cent of artificially lifted wells. In view of this wide application, it behooves the industry to have a fundamental understanding of the sucker-rod pumping process. Oddly enough, our understanding has been rather superficial. This is evidenced by the semi-empirical formulas which have been used as the basis for design and operation of sucker-rod installations. Though we have realized the limitations of our methods for many years, it has not been computationally feasible to use more refined techniques. With the advent and widespread use of digital computers, it is now possible to handle the mathematical problems associated with sucker-rod pumping. This paper summarizes a computer-oriented method which can provide greater insight into the sucker-rod pumping process. It is hoped that this technique, and techniques which may evolve from it, will prove to be the tool needed by industry to obtain the most efficient use of rod pumping equipment.
THE MATHEMATICAL MODEL
Prediction of sucker-rod system behavior involves the solution of a boundary value problem. Such a problem includes a differential equation and a set of boundary conditions. For the sucker-rod problem, the wave equation is used, together with boundary conditions which describe the initial stress and velocity of the sucker rods, the motion of the polished rod and the operation of the downhole pump. Of these items, the wave equation, the polished rod motion condition and the down-hole pump conditions are of primary importance. Discussion of the mathematical model centers about these factors.
ROD STRING SIMULATION WITH THE WAVE EQUATION
The one-dimensional wave equation with viscous damping,
is used in the sucker-rod boundary value problem to simulate the behavior of the rod string. This equation describes the longitudinal vibrations in a long slender rod and, hence, is ideal for the sucker-rod application. Its use incorporates into the mathematical model the phenomenon of force wave reflection, which is an important characteristic of real systems. The viscous damping effect postulated in Eq. 1 yields good solutions, even though nonvicous effect such as coulcomb friction and hysteresis loss in the rod material are present. Fortunately, the nonviscous effects are relatively small, so the viscous damping approximation used in the wave equation is adequate. The coefficient v is a dimensionless damping factor which is found in field measurements to vary over fairly narrow limits. For mathematical convenience the gravity term is omitted in Eq. 1. The effect of gravity on rod load and stretch can be treated separately, as will be noted later. Since Eq. 1 is linear, the legitimacy of this procedure is easy to demonstrate.
POLISHED ROD MOTION SIMULATION
The motion of the polished rod is determined by the geometry of the surface pumping unit and the torque- speed characteristics of its prime mover. By determining the motion of the polished rod, we formulate an important boundary condition. From trigonometrical considerations it can be shown that the position of the polished rod vs crank angle 0 is given by (see Fig. 1)
These equations are obtained from the general solution of the "four-bar" linkage problem and can be used to describe the kinematics of any modern beam pumping unit. If prime mover speed variations are disregarded, the angular velocity of the crank is constant, and Eq. 2 can be used to predict the position of the polished rod vs time. However, the constant-speed condition leading to constant crank angular velocity is only approached in practice: hence, it is better to make provisions for prime mover speed variations in the mathematical model. The speed at which the prime mover runs is determined by its torque-speed characteristics and the torque imposed upon it. The torque that the prime mover "feels" is the net torque arising from the polished rod load and the opposing torque from the counterbalance effect.
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