Three Lessons Learned about Artificial Lift Technology

Three Lessons Learned about Artificial Lift Technology

Posted on April 29, 2015 by SPOC Automation


We have worked with artificial lift for many years now and have learned some hard lessons along the way. Given that 95% of all wells need artificial lift, doing it right is really important. The cost of mistakes are high in the oilfield. So are the costs of oversight and routine maintenance. It doesn’t take long for a good drive to deliver real dollar value in an active field.

Lesson 1: Invest in Design

Wherever you employ a pump, you should take the time to plan for optimal efficiency. Depth and temperature make a difference. Hydrocarbon mix and quality have an effect. Size the pump and drive for the application.

Part of the design is how you will monitor the pump and what triggers you need to indicate the need for corrective action. It is not practical anymore to have field service personnel travel to every well and manually record pump data. They cannot be everywhere at once and bad things can happen between visits. Include a drive in your design and connect it to SCADA. It will pay for itself every time.

Another key component of the design is how you connect to the energy grid and control the power delivered to the pump. This is important both to conserve costs and to protect against mechanical wear and tear or worse—catastrophic failure. Our drive systems are designed to step-down power and reuse it.

A good design will optimize pump time-in-service and minimize associated service. Consider how many suppliers you want involved in your projects. You need to be able to get service quickly without any border disputes.

Lesson 2: Invest in Pump Control

Drives can dramatically reduce pump wear and tear. They do this every day by adjusting the pump as it operates to improve operations and reduce stress. Drives also protect against failure on startup by bringing pumps up to speed rather than giving full power immediately.

Reduced wear and tear extends the life of the pump, reducing replacement costs. It also reduced the frequency with which the operation must be shut down, improving production.

Failure protection reduces or eliminates emergency maintenance—the most costly field service task. In addition, it can be very difficult to start up again from a full shut down. If failures are avoided and maintenance is planned, drives can keep things flowing rather than completely shut down.

Lesson 3: Keep Power in Your Control

One of the fastest ways to destroy a pump is to overpower it. Remember that kid in high school who blew out his high-end speakers by turning up the volume? Same principle here. Worst case you blow your pump; best case you cause wear and tear that results in early part replacement.

The most dangerous moment to the equipment is on startup. If you go from zero to full speed and from no power to whatever surge the grid delivers, you take the life of your pump in your hands. A drive system can protect the pump by bringing it up to speed slowly and taking only the power needed from the Utility.

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Less catastrophic but potentially very costly is everyday wear and tear. A drive can adjust the pump operation to adapt to stresses at different points in the cycle. These constant corrections keep the pump in action without subjecting it to unnecessary strain.

Energy waste is a third consideration in power control. Most systems bleed off unneeded power from the Utility. This protects the pump but wastes the energy and associated money. Energy can be stored and filtered in the process., improving production. Drives also have the potential for energy efficiency and increased production through better pump control.

Topics: Oil and Gas Industry


Change in the oil and gas industry is as constant as the sun rising in the east. Every year, we learn new techniques for lifting product from the ground more efficiently and for lower cost. At SPOC Automation, we are passionate about sharing our insights, our hard-earned lessons with our channel partners and our customers. Here, we'll discuss new innovations in lifting technology and all of its many applications.

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