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Artificial-Sump-Pumping System Improves Production in Unconventional Oil Wells

Topics: Artificial lift

Unconventional oil wells present challenges to electrical-submersible-pump (ESP) systems and can limit production potential. An artificial-sump-pumping system used in unconventional oil wells with steep decline curves and high amounts of free gas has been shown to operate reliably and economically. This paper presents a comparison of conventional ESP methods and artificial-sump systems for which free gas and gas slugs are a challenge.

Introduction

Unconventional oil wells usually have inadequate reservoir permeability. To enable a significant amount of fluid flow from the reservoir to the wellbore, the wells are drilled horizontally and multistage hydraulic fracturing is performed to expose as much reservoir to the wellbore as possible.

The long horizontal laterals create unique production challenges. As the reservoir pressure declines in unconventional reservoirs, gas is released from the fluid and accumulates in hump undulations of the horizontal section. When the gas slugs break free, they create cycling and gas locking that has a negative effect on system performance and reliability. Repeated shutdowns because of gas locking have a negative effect on the production and longevity of the artificial-lift system. Reducing the running time for an artificial-lift system can significantly increase operator capital and operational expenses (OPEX).

Some gas slugs can be very large and can create a low-flow or no-flow condition that is challenging for most artificial-lift systems. Therefore, gas slugs must be separated from the liquid before entering the downhole pump to improve production and enhance artificial-lift-system reliability. Designing a system that can avoid slugs and prevent excessive amounts of gas from entering the downhole pumping system is crucial to produce economically from unconventional oil wells.

This article, written by Special Publications Editor Adam Wilson, contains highlights of paper SPE 186254, “Improve Production in Unconventional Oil Wells Using Artificial-Sump-Pumping System,” by Reda Elmahbes, Regulo Quintero, and Agnetha Evelyta, Baker Hughes, a GE Company, prepared for the 2017 SPE/IATMI Asia Pacific Oil and Gas Conference and Exhibition, Bali, Indonesia, 17–19 October. The paper has not been peer reviewed.
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Artificial-Sump-Pumping System Improves Production in Unconventional Oil Wells

01 July 2018

Volume: 70 | Issue: 7

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