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Legends of Artificial Lift—Part 1

Cover artist: Alex Asfar.
Historical photo: Armais Arutunoff and Reda Pump Company employees, 1928. Beam-pumping unit: photo by Robin Beckwith.

Artificial lift is a critical technology used to keep wells producing when they are incapable of providing enough energy—in the form of pressure—to produce liquids to surface at economic rates. Most development plays throughout the world would be uneconomic without artificial lift. 

There is no global repository of artificial lift statistics; however, industry observers estimate that 90% to 95% of the world’s producing wells currently use artificial lift, said Bill Lane, vice president of artificial lift systems emerging technologies at Weatherford. “It is trending more toward 95% than 90%, and probably 100% of producing wells would use artificial lift at some point in their lives, except for wells shut in prematurely because of economic factors.”  

The 2014 SPE Artificial Lift Conference and Exhibition for North America, held in Houston 6–8 October, features a special Legends in Artificial Lift Luncheon on its final day. At the luncheon, five people who have dedicated their careers to artificial lift (AL) will be honored for their outstanding contributions to the field of AL technology. The SPE Legends of Artificial Lift Award recipients are Herald Warren Winkler, James F. Lea Jr., Maurice Patterson, Sam Gavin Gibbs, and Joe Dunn Clegg. Serving on the SPE Board as 2014 SPE Technical Director for Production and Operations, I am proud to host the ceremony along with 2014 SPE President Jeff Spath, who will give an address and present the special recognition awards to the five men whose lifework distinguishes them as AL legends.

Each honoree is being recognized for accomplishments in a specific type of artificial lift—or as a champion of all AL techniques. These individuals’ curiosity, keen observation, and dedication to physical truths have, time and time again, trumped conventional wisdom, revealed ineffective techniques and exaggerated product claims, and led to forward-looking insights that have until this day driven many AL advancements in understanding, technology, and techniques. For many production engineers—including me—these five modest men are influential mentors whose work has played a major role in making the AL industry such an exciting and rewarding field to work in.

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Legends of Artificial Lift—Part 1

Robin Beckwith, Senior Features Editor

01 October 2014

Volume: 66 | Issue: 10

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