Artificial Lift Techbook 2019

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4 | April 2019 | ARTIFICIAL LIFT: OVERVIEW component helps handle the sand that makes it into the tubing strings. During shutdown events the sand flows back into the pumps, causing failures. With the SandRight tool, the sand stays above the pump and away from the well. This has been a tremendous success and our customers have really seen the value in this piece of equipment." While innovation continues in the artificial lift market, it hasn't prevented operators from testing the waters on several different methods of lift, switching out one system that might be underper- forming for another that might be better suited to the formation. Typically, ESPs have been the solution of choice for those looking for an early boost soon after a well is brought online, but later different solutions are sometimes introduced in an effort to both stabilize a shrinking production profile and improve well economics. Gas lift has been one of those methods that has gained traction in recent times. "We have seen a shift over the last couple of years. Before 2014 or 2015, we saw companies that would immediately put a well on ESP, transition to rod lift, and that was it," said Kyle Chapman, president, Pro- duction at Weatherford. "Those were pretty much the only forms of lift you would see in the Permian, for instance." As the shale revolution developed, other forms of lift became prominent, including gas lift, he said. "Specifically talking about the Permian, gas lift makes sense because they have the excess gas and have the infrastructure in the field," Chapman said. "It is a good, reliable form of artificial lift and it comes at a reduced cost compared to an ESP. They are using gas lift as much as they can, and they are using it for longer than they would have in the past." A number of micro-trends have also emerged in the U.S. including operator use of continuous rod. The method has been used in Canada for decades, and it is a common form of connecting the pump with either the drive head or the pumping unit depending on what kind of lift is employed. With the exception of California, it has yet to fully catch on in the U.S. "We're seeing use of our COROD continuous rod products expand, especially as operators in the unconventional plays go for longer horizontals," Chapman said. "Using COROD reduces tubing friction and extends pump runlife. Further, combined with technologies like our Rotaflex long-stroke pumping units, COROD can help our clients lift more fluids from deeper wellbores, which is key to plays like the Permian and Bakken." Another popular method of artificial lift has been the return of the jet pump. A technology that has been around for decades, jet pumps are now being used more and more as an alternative form of lift, especially early in the production cycle. Part of the appeal is the lack of need for a rig to work over the well if the pump fails. "One of the challenges with jet pumps is that they are great when the well flows at a high rate, but once the well starts to slow down and there is not as much fluid running through it, the pump can cavitate," Chapman explained. "To answer that challenge, we've come out with two new jet pumping solutions. The first is the inverse, or low-flow jet pump. It changes the downhole fluid path when it reaches the pump, which lets us put jet pump technology into lower flowing wells." Weatherford has combined jet technologies with a hydraulic pumping system to create a centrifugal jet pump. This basically provides the power of an ESP on the surface without the inefficiencies and expense of a downhole ESP. (Photo courtesy of Weatherford)

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