Artificial Lift Techbook 2019

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38 | April 2019 | ARTIFICIAL LIFT: TECHNOLOGY per day. The current gas-lift design can't handle it. HyRate allows an operator to go back to annular lift and switch the injection path to take advantage of that much larger flow area to unload the well. Once the well is unloaded and back to a more normalized production rate, then the operator can switch back to its normalized tubing lift," he said. In some regions, operators generally don't run tubing initially because high-volume gas flow creates more friction. They are just flowing up the casing. What happens is that once the well does load up, they have to install tubing in a workover. They run capillary tubing and gauges at the same time they run their installations. The all-in costs for the average workover run $300,000 to $400,000, Archa added. By installing this system at the beginning, opera- tors can bridge that gap of lost production, friction loss to the well and not making as much production as they normally would. "Instead of installing tub- ing, flowing up the tubing and losing production, they are going to install this hybrid system and take advantage of being able to tap into both flow paths," he said. Rigless ESP replacement In offshore and remote locations worldwide, inter- vention costs for replacing ESPs are quite expensive, often leading operators to less optimal artificial lift techniques, primarily gas lift. In Alaska, the typical cost to swap an ESP can be $2 million to $3 million. As mentioned earlier, the cost of replacing an ESP offshore West Africa can be $10 million. Production can be down for over a year after an ESP failure in these operating areas, AccessESP's Malone said. ConocoPhillips originally sponsored AccessESP technol- ogy in 2005 to develop a fully retrievable ESP system that could be pulled through tubing on slickline without killing the well. "The reason they needed that was, No. 1, if there was an ESP failure, they wanted to remediate quickly without pulling the tub- ing, and, No. 2, in a lot of cases they were drilling horizontals and they needed to get into the laterals to clean sand and do workovers, again without pulling the tub- ing," he explained. "We are in the business of rig elimination and reducing produc- tion downtime," Malone said. "We work in places where rig access is difficult and expensive, and there is a lot of lost production from ESP downtime." For example, offshore West Africa, the platforms were never designed for ESPs. "It wasn't considered at the time the platforms were installed. Now they want to make the transition from gas lift to ESPs. What's keeping them from doing that is the fear of ESP reliability and the implications of an ESP failure," he continued. AccessESP can pull a pump on slickline. "We can go out on a platform with a mast unit and slickline unit. We can do a live-well swap of an ESP. That is a big advantage. When we pull the system, the client has full-bore access through the tubing to the reservoir so they can do coiled-tubing cleanouts. They can do re-entries," he added. The company focuses on three areas: where gas lift no longer works, where the lost production and inter- vention costs are high, and preventive maintenance. "Preventive maintenance is now emerging as a major change in ESP operating philosophy, primarily in Alaska where we've been running the longest. I think the most exciting is the idea of preventive maintenance on ESPs. What we have initiated from last year in Alaska is swapping out the systems on a preventive basis, which is a real change," he said. "ESPs are complex electromechanical systems operating in a very hostile environment. They have a finite life and are subject to unpredictable failure. This will never change. If I've got a system that has been running for three years, it is like having a car with Liberty Lift Solutions' patent-pending HyRate system allows operators to switch back and forth between annular flow gas lift and tubing flow gas lift without having to work the well over. (Photo courtesy of Liberty Lift Solutions)

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