Artificial Lift Techbook 2018

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30 | July 2018 | ARTIFICIAL LIFT: TECHNOLOGY wells going from 20,000 barrels per day to 200 to 300 barrels per day over a short period of time. Gas lift is convenient in those cases—you can produce through the casing, through the tubing, you can even produce intermittently. These are the two preferred choices of our customers." When the decline gets high, operators look to change to methods like rod lift. Back in 2014, when oil prices were robust, rod lift was a favored method to follow ESPs. After oil prices collapsed, the economics changed. "Before it was a matter of getting cash flow from the wells and for that ESPs were the right way to go," Romero explained. "That is where you get the most production. But with the economics hit, customers started changing to gas lift. With gas lift, you don't have that cost of intervention like you have with ESPs. You don't have to use a rig. You use wireline. A lot of operators started using a lot of gas lift. Some that were using rod lift chose not to convert. They would stay with rod lift. Some operators would use plunger or jet pumps. But the most common methods are the ESPs, gas lift and rod lift. There is no recipe. They go from high producer methods to low producer methods. Each operator has its own recipe. I can tell you the king for production is ESP." Controller role expands As wells and the tools that enable companies to produce get smarter, so must other pieces of key hardware and software that integrate into various lift systems. One component that has found itself in an expanding role is the controller. Used typically to control and automate well pad equipment, many now have begun to take on edge computing features allowing for more computational work to take place at the controller. "A lot of times when we find a bottleneck in the analytics portion of the digital oilfield transforma- tion, it's because the producer is not getting reliable data on time," according to Munk with Rockwell Automation. "They can't rely on the integrity of their data and they are not getting it as they need it." One technology Rockwell Automation has released in the past couple of years is a rod pump control opti- mization package called OptiLift. The company took a different approach when designing this package by using controller technology combined with edge gateway capabilities. OptiLift solutions provide a controller with I/O and communications ready to be used with different artificial lift methods. With a firmware upgrade it can handle gas lift, plunger lift and rod pump controlling the same hardware. "Over time, this reduces the electrical labor costs and the installation costs that are needed as cus- tomers go through these life cycles with their wells," Munk said. The controller also gets an upgrade as well pads continue to grow. Over the past decade, well pads in the unconventionals have gone from a single vertical, short lateral well to very long lateral, multiwell pads. Today, 20,000-ft laterals are not so far-fetched, and with eight, 16 or 32 wells to a pad in places like the D-J Basin control systems used for measurements and monitoring need to step up their game. "These pads are moving from what was once a single-well pad to essentially a small factory," Munk said. "When you look at it from an automation point of view, you are going from 20 to 50 points of I/O on a single-well pad to upwards of thousands of I/O on a 16- to 32-multiwell pad. Those traditional RTUs start to have problems with CPU horsepower, memory requirements and peer-to-peer communications. We are addressing this with the Rockwell Automation Well Manager solution. It is essentially taking those applications you would normally put in your RTUs to control your wellhead lift solution and integrating all into one single controller that is used with distributed I/O on an an EtherNet/IP network. This solution consolidates the amount of CPU hardware needed on site. It also increases the amount of diagnostic capability on these multiwell pads and provides a centralized configuration so that you can configure your automation control program, your power con- trol for motors and your artificial lift control all from one controller in real time, and hot swap I/O devices so you're not having to shut the system down when you make changes or expand." A simple strategy The combination of Baker Hughes and GE Oil & Gas into Baker Hughes, a GE company (BHGE) has created a major player in the field of artificial lift. According to Bob Laird, product line director, arti- ficial lift systems for BHGE, the company's ambi- tion for its artificial lift business is simple—to invent smarter ways to produce oil and gas and exceed the expectations of each customer in the field. "We have been working with a larger Permian Basin operator, and through close collaboration, we have been able to reduce their production downtime by almost 50%," Laird said. "This type of success requires strong engagement with the operator—making sure we design the system that best fits their requirements and optimize equip- ment operations over time."

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