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In most fields, the new wells flow under its natural pressure until such
time that the reservoir pressure is reduced to the point that the well
can no longer flow under its natural pressure.

The well now becomes a prime candidate for artificial lift.

There are various artificial lift mechanisms such as: gas lift, plunger
lift, downhole electric or hydraulic pump, and rod pump.

The selection of artificial lift depends on type of hydrocarbons, flow

rate and the reservoir pressure.

The design of lift systems also depends on the economics of the


Artificial lift is simply a method of adding energy to lift liquid to the

surface of a well, and can be accomplished by any of the following

- Gas Lift

- Continuous gas lift system

- Intermittent gas lift system

- Plunger lift system

- Beam pumping or sucker rod pumping

- Electric submersible pumping

- Progressive cavity or screw type pumps particularly for heavy oil


- Various special techniques e.g. hydraulic pumps, jet pumps etc.


Gas Lift

Gas lift systems can be used to effectively produce wells ranging from
low productivity to high productivity.

Gas lift systems are selected for artificial lift if a low cost, high
pressure gas source is readily available.

In flowing wells, gas is produced along with the liquids.

The gas comes out of solution and expands as the pressure is

reduced as it flows up the tubing.

The expanding gas assists in lightening the column of fluid, resulting

in more inflow from the reservoir and also helps push the fluids out of
the well.

Gas Lift

In gas lift operations, high pressure gas is

injected down the casing and enters the
tubing at the bottom of the well through a
pressure-rated gas lift valve.

As the gas rises the bubbles expand,

increasing the velocity of the fluid and
decreasing its density just as in flowing wells.

Gas Lift

The applications of gas lift are:

- To enable wells that will not flow naturally to produce

- To increase production rate in flowing wells

- To unload a well that will later flow naturally

- To remove or unload fluids from gas wellsand keep the gas wells
unloaded (usually intermittent gas lift)

Gas Lift

Continuous Gas lift

Under continuous gas lift, high pressure gas enters the tubing through
gas lift valves continuously, maintaining a constant flowing bottomhole

This action reduces the fluid gradient in the tubing and the well
performs very similar to a natural flowing well.

The valves are arranged in a string down the tubing with the valve
operating pressure charge being less as the valve location is deeper,
allowing the deeper valve to stay open when the valve above is

Gas Lift

Intermittent Gas Lift

Intermittent gas lift is used on wells that have low volumes of

produced fluids.

Intermitting is usually done using surface equipment.

The gas lift supply is shut down for a predetermined period of time,
allowing fluid inflow from the reservoir.

The injection takes place again, removing fluids from the wellbore and
then the next cycle begins.

Gas Lift

Some features of gas lift

- Simple operation

- Very flexible one gas lift design can handle a variety of changing
well conditions

- Relatively low cost both capital and operating

- Can be used in directional wells

- Must have a high pressure gas supply

- Would not work on low API gravity crudes due to high specific gravity
of the oil

- Requires a compressor, to recompress the gas for further gas lift use

Plunger Lift

Plunger lifting is an economical artificial lift alternative, especially in

high gas oil ratio wells.

A plunger is a pipeline pig that runs vertically in a well to remove

liquids from a wellbore after the well is unable to produce fluids on its
own drive mechanism.

A plunger cycle consists of three stages:

- Shut-in: A producing well is shut in to build casing pressure.

This is needed to build the pressure to lift the plunger with the liquid
column on top of the plunger.

- Unloading: The tubing is opened, and stored casing pressure

lifts the liquid column and plunger to the surface.

Plunger Lift

- Afterflow: The well is allowed to flow while the plunger is at

surface. During the afterflow period, the well keeps producing gas and
fluids until the next shut-in period. At the end of the afterflow period,
the well is shut in and the plunger falls.

Plunger lift is used mainly in:

- High producing GOR wells

- Wells where scale, paraffins, wax foul up the tubing

- Gas wells that require liquid unloading

- Reducing liquid fall back (used along with intermittent gas lift)

Beam Pumping

Beam Pumping is the most widely accepted artificial lift method. It

utilizes a mechanical linkage to actuate a piston type bottomhole

The beam pump (or rod pump) is a plunger with a two valve

The standing valve is a one way valve in the bottom of the pump,
which allows flow from the wellbore to the pump but stops reverse

The traveling valve is another one way valve that is attached to the
rod string.

Beam Pumping

Beam Pumping

As the plunger is lifted by the rod on the upstroke, the traveling valve
is closed, forming a low pressure area beneath the plunger and
drawing in reservoir fluid through the standing valve into the wellbore

At the end of the upstroke, the downstroke begins.

When the bottom of the plunger (which contains the traveling valve)
hits the surface of the liquid that has flowed into the pump, the
traveling valve is forced open as the valve moves through the liquid and
the standing valve is closed.

The downstroke of the plunger forces the liquid in the pump up

through the traveling valve, adding it to the tubing.
Conventional Bottom Hole Pump
Completion of Upstroke
Start of Upstroke
Start of Downstroke Completion of Downstroke
The artificial lift of
petroleum with a
beam-pumping unit

Beam Pumping

The new fluid pushes all other fluid in the tubing up by the volume of
the liquid in the pump.

The most difficult task in beam pumping is keeping the rod string in
operation without high maintenance costs, frequent servicing and
excessive downtime.

Problems associated with sucker rods result from:

- Corrosion

- Carelessness in handling

- High pumping speeds

- Wide range of loads


Beam Pumping

- Crooked hole

- Poor selection and string design

- Sucker rod pumping is controlled by variable frequency drive and

timer mechanism at the surface.

Potential problems with beam pumps

- Sand erosion of valve seats

- Gas locking

- Limited space for offshore operations


Electric Submersible Pump

A submersible pump is a
pump which has a sealed
motor close-coupled to
the pump body.

The whole assembly

is submerged in the fluid
to be pumped.

The advantage of this

type of pump is that it
can provide a
significant lifting force
as it does not rely on
external air pressure
to lift the fluid.

Electric Submersible Pump

ESP systems are effective for pumping produced fluids to surface.

A system of mechanical seals are used to prevent the fluid being

pumped entering the motor and causing a short circuit.

The pump can either be connected to a pipe, flexible hose or lowered

down guide rails or wires so that the pump sits on a coupling, thereby
connecting it to the delivery pipework.

Submersible pumps are found in many applications, single stage

pumps are used for drainage, sewage pumping, general industrial
pumping and slurry pumping.

Electric Submersible Pump

The ESP system consists of a number of components that turn a

staged series of centrifugal pumps to increase the pressure of the well
fluid and push it to the surface.

The energy to turn the pump comes from a high-voltage (3 to 5 kV)

alternating-current source to drive a special motor that can work at
high temperatures of up to 300 F (150 C) and high pressures of up
to 5000 lb/in (34 MPa), from deep wells of up to 12000 feet (3.7 km)
deep with high energy requirements of up to about 1000 horsepower
(750 kW).

ESPs have dramatically lower efficiencies with significant fractions of

gas, greater than about 10% volume at the pump intake. Given their
high rotational speed of up to 4000 rpm (67 Hz) and tight clearances,
they are not very tolerant of solids such as sand.

Progressive Cavity Pump

Progressing Cavity Pumping (PCP) Systems typically consist of a

surface drive, drive string and downhole PC pump.

The PC pump is comprised of a single helical-shaped rotor that turns

inside a double helical elastomer-lined stator.

The stator is attached to the production tubing string and remains

stationary during pumping.

In most cases the rotor is attached to a sucker rod string which is

suspended and rotated by the surface drive.

As the rotor turns eccentrically in the stator, a series of sealed cavities

form and progress from the inlet to the discharge end of the pump.

Progressive Cavity Pump

The result is a non-pulsating positive displacement

flow with a discharge rate proportional to the size
of the cavity, rotational speed of the rotor and the
differential pressure across the pump.

Progressive Cavity Pump

PCP System Applications

- Sand-laden heavy crude oil and bitumen

- Medium crude oil with limits on H2S and CO2

- Light sweet crude oil with limits on aromatic content

- High water cuts

- Dewatering gas wells such as coalbed methane projects

- Mature waterfloods

- Visual and/or height sensitive areas

- All type wells, including horizontal, slant, directional and vertical


Progressive Cavity Pump

There are two basic elements that make up the downhole Progressing
Cavity (PC) Pump

a single helical alloy-steel rotor connected to a rod string and a

- double helical elastomer-lined stator attached to the tubing string.

Using the latest manufacturing technology, rotors are kept to tight

tolerances and treated with chemical and abrasion-resistance coating,
typically hard chrome.

Stators are comprised of a steel tube with an elastomer molded inside

to provide the internal geometry.

Each combination of rotor/stator is matched to downhole conditions to

provide highly efficient operation and optimum production

Progressive Cavity Pump

Potential problems with PCP

-Torquing up of rods in inclined holes

- H2S effect on elastomer rubber

- Low fluid levels can burn rubber if

at times of no suction