What Haunts Production Managers?

Oct 29, 2021 9:03:25 AM / by Lawrence Burleigh

Halloween Pumpkin

With Halloween upon us and daylight savings not too far away, we thought we’d take a look at the darker side of our business and ask the question:

"What haunts Production Managers?"


This will be a very quick read and takes a light-hearted look at the ghosts, ghouls and goblins of artificial lift. Hopefully you will not find it too scary...


Read on for more…


The call from the VP!

Let’s start with what makes a production manager’s heart pound more: is it ghouls, goblins, maybe even ghosts or is it the call from the VP asking why LOE is up, or production is down? I know what I would find more terrifying - it’s definitely the latter!


Artificial lift can have a large impact upon LOE (lease operating expense) and production goal attainment. Proactive methods which optimize ESPs and gas lift can assure goal achievement, whereas reactive methods can make things tougher. Workload, lack of focus, lack of data, too much data in disparate silos, or the inability to adapt work practices to those of a data driven company can all contribute to poor runlives and lower production.


Rising LOE can cause shivers in the spine. Certain ghouls feed on poor ESP runlives such as workover rig costs, equipment replacement costs, and other intervention costs.



The gremlins of inefficiency are fueled by non-optimal ESP operating practices and non-optimal gas compressor utilization such as:


  • an ESP operating left or right of the operating range
  • a worn ESP
  • compressor gas feeding wells on a pad with other wells, where gas is allocated equally rather than based on well performance
  • compressor gas whistling around due to a tubing leak or cut out valve, rather than at the orifice



But, the most hair-raising goblins are those which attack production.


  • The NO ANALYSIS FREEZE- Is well underperformance due to the ESP or IPR? More well tests are needed to gain confidence. The time spent analyzing production data takes focus away from other duties and wells.
  • The SWARM- A horde of nuisance trips can collectively prevent production target achievement, as well as reduced ESP runlife caused by frequent starts. Because the individual instance is not detrimental the trips are frequently dismissed, but when combined, the impact can be significant.
  • The MANDREL JOKER- Production is unknowingly due to a failed mandrel, incorrect injection point, or hole-in tubing. The lost production could continue for weeks or months.


Trick or Treat?

candy_corn_800_clr_25454These ghosts can be exorcized by implementing the True Production Optimization methodology, using Pump Checker® software. Consider the following workflows:

  • Automatic well test analysis
  • Problem Identification
    • High mandrel injection
    • ESP Pump degradation
  • Optimization of current system
    • including incremental oil potential
  • Optimization for ‘non-problem’ equivalent system
  • Recommendations with opportunities ranked


The proven modules in Pump Checker will immediately flag issues, optimizing the ESP, track and categorize nuisance trips and warehouse and report root causes of failure analysis. In a recent seminar, we worked through scenarios demonstrating how an operator with 100 wells could easily gain an extra $27.8 million from the asset. Would that be some Halloween candy worth performing a few tricks to obtain?


Happy Halloween from ALP, stay safe and, don’t let missing LOE and production goals haunt you!

Halloween ALP


Ghost written by Lawrence Burleigh for Artificial Lift Performance.


Lawrence Burleigh

Written by Lawrence Burleigh