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Artificial Lift Techbook 2018

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EPmag.com | July 2018 | 31 ARTIFICIAL LIFT: TECHNOLOGY Laird said the BHGE artificial lift group has been able to add value for customers through its four research and development centers. One of the focus areas is modeling, where teams simulate field con- ditions in the lab to gain a better understanding of performance before applying it in the field. BHGE is also looking closely at how to improve reliability and reduce operating and intervention costs―two major drivers for operators. One of the centerpieces to BHGE's artificial lift expertise is the electrical submersible pumping (ESP) system facility in Claremore, Okla. Part of a huge investment made in 2014 to advance artificial lift technologies, the campus houses the Artificial Lift Research and Technology Center. "With eight test wells, we can simulate every - thing from coiled tubing deployment to critical well testing," Laird said. "It's a place where innovation happens every day for our engineers and customers alike. Our research and development capabilities also include various test loops that can test anything from viscosity to abrasives, to gas and temperature thresholds, allowing our team to validate for vir- tually every type of ESP application. This ensures our technologies are reliable before deploying in the field." Laird used the example of a pyramid to illustrate the artificial lift needs of wells around the world. The base of the pyramid represents wells with low intervention costs, while the top layer represents remote, offshore wells that require the highest intervention investments. "With the industry focusing on the peak of the pyramid, our goal as a service company is to develop alternative deployment systems that help lower these intervention costs—competing with applications at the base of the pyramid and opening up the market," Laird said. "For example, offshore intervention costs can be as high as $10 to $15 million, but if an operator uses our TransCoil rigless-deployed ESP system, they can cut these costs by a factor of five. So, $10 to $15 million becomes $2 to $3 million, a drastic savings. These are the types of technology innovations we are focused on." BHGE's artificial lift business has been relatively quiet since the merger last July, but Laird said the group is working on new product offerings that lever- age the strengths of both legacy companies. "We're really going to have some disruptive tech- nologies coming out, not only on the fluid-end or the power-end, but the drive-end … every component in the system," Laird said. "Over the next year, we're excited to start talking to customers and the industry more broadly about some of the disruptive technol- ogies that will hit the market." Beyond ESPs, BHGE sees growth potential in something it calls smart gas lift, which GE Oil & Gas had been working on at its Oil & Gas Research Cen- ter in Oklahoma City. It is a fully automated system using the digital component along with automation. There also is room to grow in the progressing cavity pumping (PCP) business where BHGE is a strong player. According to Laird, the company believes it can double its PCP business globally over the next couple of years. Today, BHGE can supply nearly every type of arti- ficial lift operators require—from ESPs to rods and beyond. One place to expect to see more of BHGE in the future is in well cycle management and planning. "We're in a unique position to be able to put intel- ligence in the hands of the customer and make every- body in the industry smarter," said Laird. "It is a big part of the digitalization of the oil field." BHGE is working toward new developments to address high temperature, gas, corrosion and sand applications. When it comes to temperature, the com- pany is working on insulations and new methods of heat evacuation from the well. When it comes to reliability issues caused by sand, Laird explained, the problem isn't always the amount of sand, but the consistency. "You can think of sand as having either the con- sistency of sugar or baking powder," Laird said. "The sand that is like sugar is big and granular, and the sand that is like baking powder is floury. On an abra- sive front, the floury stuff is what really hurts ESPs. You want to protect from that stuff getting into the bearing area, or it will eat away any kind of stability." All of these goals fall back to one main point—reli- ability. It is one thing to understand an artificial lift system, it is another to understand how to mitigate scale and corrosion and other bad things that can happen downhole. "You can't solve reliability issues if you don't know what's breaking," Laird said. "We can speculate, and I think the industry in general does a lot of specula- tion. We want to get it down to where we are making data-driven decisions, and digital will help us do that. If I'm the chairman of an oil company and I can see what it is costing me per well in real time to operate I can start making some pretty smart decisions about how to change what is going on with my production from that rock. I can do it from the type equipment that I'm running. I can do it from how I manage the reservoir. If you can put that intelligence at the edge then I think you really have a winner." n

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