Artificial Lift Experts Warn of Long-Term Production Issues in Horizontal Wells

Photo courtesy of Chris Boyer/Kestrel Aerial Services.
A four-well shale pad site in North Dakota. The producers responsible for the North American shale revolution will have to pay closer attention to their artificial lift choices because of inherent complexities involved with horizontal wells.

The list of challenges facing artificial lift systems in horizontal shale wells is a long one, and the stakes are high.

From the shape of the borehole to harsh downhole conditions, horizontal wells are pushing the technology to its limits. The hurdles have become even higher for operators that have prioritized drilling wells as fast as possible, reducing completion costs, and attaining high initial production rates without considering the implications on long-term production.

Over the past decade, oil and gas companies have borrowed billions of dollars to drill more than 70,000 horizontal wells across North America, an estimated 95% of which are dependent on some type of artificial lift to keep flowing. The investment in many of these wells has been predicated on the idea that they will profitably produce for 20 to 40 years.

Whether that promise can be delivered will in large part “be pinned upon the reliability and the cost effectiveness, or the efficiency, of the artificial lift systems that we have,” said Kyel Hodenfield, president of artificial lift systems for North America at Schlumberger.

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Artificial Lift Experts Warn of Long-Term Production Issues in Horizontal Wells

Trent Jacobs, JPT Senior Technology Writer

03 September 2015

Volume: 67 | Issue: 10

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