Real-time decision making for artificial lift management and optimization

May 29, 2020 9:30:00 AM / by ALP Team

Optimization is a goal for any number of industries, but in the oilfield, it means a lot of oil—and money—either gained or lost, depending on your well performance. Artificial lift is used in a large number of wells, and utilizing them in unconventional wells comes with complications which can challenge the performance of the lift system and the productivity of the well, not to mention ESP run life. Representing a large amount of financial investment and an even larger number of daily production barrels reliant upon artificial lift performance, artificial lift must be protected to prolong equipment life and ensure maximum production. With a variety of options to manage ESPs and gas lift, the question becomes: How quickly do you want to know what is going on so you can make prompt improvements?

Utilizing the right tools provides you with several benefits including:

  • Reduced risk
  • Effective decision making
  • Improved cash flow

Why real time data is important

Access to real-time data is extremely important when performing surveillance and optimization, but tools must be in place to prioritize wells and further reduce the real-time data to actionable items. Your team can monitor a limited number of wells, even if they are managing significantly more; and if issues are found in more than 20 of these wells, some simply cannot be covered. It is crucial to collect the most relevant data to prioritize which wells present the best prospects for optimization. Without this data reduction, engineering staff spend an unacceptable amount of time repeating the same analysis every day, the epitome of wasted time and resources.

Automatic analysis

Thorough and specific analysis is an important piece of any surveillance system. Without it, simple questions cannot be answered pertaining to artificial lift health, well inflow, or artificial lift system capability. There is enormous value in answering theses daily questions quickly and accurately, providing your team with the information to deduce where production is being lost, how to improve it, and even how to mitigate potential future issues. Additionally, automatic artificial lift analysis can provide you with the knowledge to determine if an issue resides with the lift system or the well.

Even basic reporting helps

Using real-time analytics and exception reporting can lead to very efficient use of manpower and assets. Not all analysis must be complex to achieve results, and basic reporting techniques such as runtime exceptions or start-stop counters can be highly effective methods for detecting operational problems. The collection of results, viewed in a single dashboard, provides the team with a snapshot of current conditions, giving an overview of each well’s status, allowing them to see which wells are most in need of attention, and ensures that team members can differentiate between possible problems like a tubing leak, wear, a blockage or failure, or a long-term issue.

Where your team members make a difference

The engineers and field staff must have an active role in defining the rules and analytics directing their daily work. After all, although it is valuable to have data on every well, it is simply not feasible to solve each potential issue with an under-achieving well. Filtering out those that are in the “worst condition” so team members can make improvements gives them confidence in the system and their abilities to increase production. This automated approach means that data is being collected continually, and analysis achieved several times an hour (the software doing what it is designed to do) while decisions are being made regularly and proactively by the team members (doing what they are trained to do). By reducing the time spent on each well, their time is being spent focusing on those wells which need their attention.  Achieving artificial lift staff buy-in and ownership in the surveillance system is a key enabler of system success.

Examples of successful ESP management

Some successful implementations of ESP Management Software can be found in the report: 181219-MS SPE Conference Paper “Real-time Decision Making for ESP Management and Optimization. In this study, Occidental Oil & Gas was looking to improve the efficiency of the ESPs in its 400+ unconventional wells. Knowing how the production of frac sand, a high gal/oil ratio, and rapidly changing flow rates can ravage ESP run lives without effective management. Utilizing software to observe the ESPs provided the Occidental team with the diagnostics, data, and analytics to be pro-active and make quick decisions regarding optimization options.  Some of the notable results include:

  • One case showed an improved daily income of over $16,000 per day due to a proactive ESP replacement. This case was detected by automated ESP analysis and tracked over many months to justify the expense of pulling a still-functioning ESP.
  • Another case involved a group of high-value wells in a team where a significant amount of daily time and effort was spent asking theoretical questions about ESP performance and speeding up pumps to increase production. But quantified data and analysis enabled this team to spend their time on value-added activities and not wasted worrying about unknown technical details.
  • In a third situation, one ESP which had been performing efficiently began to show increasing degradation (up to 40%) over time, then leveled off. With the data exhibiting that the ESP had degradation, engineers were given the ability to discover and understand both the ESP problems as well as an opportunity to determine if the ESP was meeting acceptable operational guidelines.

ALP Pump Checker® to improve artificial lift management

While the paper reference above references ESPs, Pump Checker has the same robust and tested workflows for gaslift wells too. The ALP Pump Checker software provides a depth of features not found in many platforms, with easy-to-read dashboards, trends revealed through real-time monitoring, relevant diagnostics, and a series of analytics workflows customized to meet operator needs. In addition, Pump Checker is designed to help you manage all your artificial lift, no matter the manufacturer, allowing you to utilize the software throughout your operation. The feature list includes:

  1. Monitoring (real-time surveillance)
  2. Downtime reduction
  3. Offline status tracking
  4. Optimization opportunities
  5. Runlife extension
  6. Predictive failure/proactive interventions
  7. Failure analysis
  8. Cost reduction
  9. Benchmarking - Drive KPIs and Best Practices

There is no reason to continue operating ESPs and gas lift with issues. Utilizing software like the ALP Pump Checker provides your team with the analytics to diagnose and manage the productivity, allowing you to monitor performance, gather historical data and determine which wells are candidates for optimization or artificial lift replacement. To read more about Occidental’s experience utilizing Pump Checker, download the report.


Tags: digital oilfield, data driven decisions

ALP Team

Written by ALP Team

Artificial Lift Performance (ALP) has been helping companies solve oil production and artificial lift problems since 2004. Based in Edinburgh, Scotland, ALP is a consulting and software company that exists to maximize your production, optimize wells and artificial lift equipment. ALP's Pump Checker® software is a powerful analytics tool that helps you understand your data and make effective decisions to manage your artificial lift. Through our staff training, we also help ensure that you have a well-trained staff who make the best possible contribution to your business.