Artificial lift systems have significantly aided in oil and gas operations, making them more efficient, more productive and more lucrative. Without artificial lift systems, the supply of oil and gas needed for energy, transportation and petrochemicals would not be enough to cover world demand.
What Is an Artificial Lift System?
Most oil wells do not have the required natural energy to bring oil to the surface on their own. Some wells may initially have a natural flow of oil to the surface, but over time, the pressure bringing the oil to the surface naturally depletes while the well fluid changes with increasing water. If left as is, the production life of the well is also inefficient and short-lived.
Directly, the artificial lift system’s purpose is the literal “lifting” of the oil or production fluid to the surface of the well. Indirectly, its purpose is to maximize performance and productivity, but for the latter to materialize, the right method of artificial lifting must be implemented.
How Does an Artificial Lift Work?
Artificial lift is a multi-stage process using external source supplementing reservoir energy. This could be through high-pressure gas or pumps to lift production fluids to the surface. There are different methods that serve as the basis of artificial lift systems, which include:
- Beam pumping
- Hydraulic pumping
- Electric submersible pump (ESP)
- Progressive Cavity Pump (PCP)
- Gas lift
This system is probably the most common type and is also referred to as rod pumping. This method increases pressure to bring oil to the surface using a beam pump. The beam pump rocks back and forth to engage sucker rods. As the beam pump rocks back and forth, the sucker rod equipment plunges into the wellbore to stimulate oil from the reservoir to flow through the well and up to the surface.
This method uses hydraulic pumps — usually jet pumps but sometimes reciprocating positive-displacement pumps — to bring oil to the surface. The surface hydraulic pump transports pressurized power fluid through tubing to the subsurface hydraulic pump. The subsurface hydraulic pump moves the well fluids to the surface through parallel tubing.
Electric Submersible Pump
The electric submersible pump (ESP) uses a multistage centrifugal pump system deployed below the level of the well. This method is usually powered by electricity, utilizing a cable running from the electricity source on the surface to the subsurface pump. Impellers spin, creating the requisite pressure to move oil upwards.
Progressive Cavity Pump
The progressive cavity pump (PCP) is made of a stator and a rotor, a screw type pump that provides a force for fluids to travel through the pump. Its functional design is good for handling viscous and abrasive multiphase fluids.
The gas lift injects gas directly into the well, reducing the density of the fluids being produced through the tubing. The bubbles have a “scrubbing” action on the liquids.
How Can You Determine Which Artificial Lift System Is Right for You?
Using the right artificial lift system for your oil and gas operations is key to maximum performance and efficiency, which is imperative to your bottom line. There are multiple variables and factors to consider when determining which artificial lift system will produce the best result for any given well. Here are some variables and factors you should consider when determining the system best for you.
Variables to Consider
- Economic investment
- Field-tested technology
- System reliability
- Horsepower usage
- Equipment maintenance
- Personnel capabilities
- Overall operations
Factors Specific to the Well
- The volume of solids and/or heavy oil
- Availability of wellbore gas
- The depth of the well
- The condition of the well
- Location, i.e. offshore or onshore
Overall, you want an artificial lift system that accommodates your operations by providing solutions and not becoming another problem that needs to be addressed and/or fixed.
The Rigless Artificial Lift System
Today, you can deploy rigless ESP technology that offers solutions to production downtime and high intervention costs. It is hard to imagine the technology improving more — but it has.
At AccessESP, we are a part of this process: improving technology and achieving performance. We are a team of experts partnering with other experts to develop innovative ESP technologies to increase your uptime.
Contact us today to learn more about what we are accomplishing and what we are offering.