Artificial Lift Techbook 2018

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28 | July 2018 | ARTIFICIAL LIFT: TECHNOLOGY testing. We're investing in rigless intervention and new motor offerings for the future as well as digitalization and automation." Making the switch For all of the buzz around the digital oil field and advancements in artificial intelligence, the goal for many operators using artificial lift techniques remains unchanged: optimizing when to move from one form of artificial lift to another during the life cycle of a well with the greatest positive effect on production and least negative effect on budget. For some operators, the starting point after a well shows declines is to run an ESP. For others, gas lift is the answer. "Another important aspect of artificial lift is the fundamental question of how to define 'the best' technology or strategy for a particular well or field," says Camilleri. "Of course, it depends on the operator's economic strategy, the well and reservoir properties, and the capabilities of technology at the time of the decision. Personal preferences often play a role. But even those few variables introduce a wide range of choices. That's why Schlumberger provides real-time flowrate, IPR and power consumption to help operators make objective decisions about arti- ficial lift technology and strategy." The cost equation has raised the profile of gas-lift solutions in the unconventional plays, according to Weatherford. The advantages include low-cost pro- duction that leverages the available gas infrastructure. "A year and a half or two years ago, gas lift wasn't even spoken of in the unconventional space," Hurst said. "There has really been a shift in focus to gas lift because of cost, but most operators also recognize there are limitations to gas lift. There comes a point in the life of every well where gas lift is no longer efficient due to the decline rate, so operators using gas lift need to have a transition plan to another form of lift after gas lift. One of our solutions is to extend the useful life of gas lift by adding plunger lift to the system along with our advanced automated controls. Plunger lift assist can enhance gas-lift system efficiency and put off the expense of installing rod lift or another form of lift until later in the well life cycle." The strategy for moving from one form of artificial lift to another varies from operator to operator, basin to basin and well to well. Some move to artificial lift much sooner in the well's life than others, which can result in improved cash flow. Typically when a new well starts up, the first few months are driven by its natural flow, but when pressure takes a dive along with the produced volumes, operators must transition to artificial lift. The moment of transitioning from free-flowing to artificial lift, or from one form of lift to another, is when artificial intelligence can have a significant positive impact. "The first choice varies from operator to operator, but it is usually the high volume methods," Romero said. "Those are ESPs and gas lift. ESPs are capable of producing high volume, high depths in deviated wells, but gas lift is economical, especially if the operator has the infrastructure in place to supply the gas. That is key. With gas lift, different than ESPs, you can use it with a wide range of production. Imagine these Weatherford's WellPilot F-15 controller regulates the desired plunger speeds by detecting plunger arrival and then accelerating or decelerating the plunger. (Image courtesy of Weatherford)

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