There is nothing wrong with change, if it is in the right direction.—Winston Churchill

In the artificial-lift community, do we understand the current technology well enough to know what improvements are needed? Are we advancing technology or just providing “band-aid” solutions because the root cause of failure is not understood? Where does the industry need to focus effort—technology development or reduction of failures caused by poor design, installation, and operating practices?

Questions such as these were the driving force behind two industry consortiums to develop databases to collect thousands of electrical-submersible-pump (ESP) and progressing-cavity-pump (PCP) installation and failure records for performance analysis and benchmarking ( and, respectively). Data collection and its analysis from the databases have become very valuable in understanding the performance and reliability of these lift systems. Some of the lessons learned from the PCP consortium will be presented at the 2010 SPE Progressing Cavity Pumps Conference (PCPC) to be held in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, in September.

Both the PCP and ESP industries have been impaired by a lack of standardization, especially in the areas of equipment rating, testing, and nomenclature. In 2009, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) published a revised ISO 15136-1 as an international standard for PCP equipment, and a session on its use will be presented at the 2010 SPE PCPC. Currently ISO 15551-1, which is expected to be the new international standard for ESP systems, is in development and will, undoubtedly, be a hot topic for discussion at the 2011 SPE ESP Workshop in Texas in April.

The reliability-improvement consortiums and the development of new international standards are helping to define where we are today as an industry and provide clear direction for technology advancement.

The three artificial-lift papers featured in this section contain unique solutions that may become starting points from which other developments may evolve: The geared centrifugal pump has a distinctive downhole-transmission assembly that offers an opportunity for other pump configurations to be driven by a rod string, a method to use gas lift above and below a packer in a single completion with long perforation intervals might expand to areas other than unloading tight gas wells, and the use of hybrid data-evaluation models to visualize and analyze production information better may become an essential tool for artificial-lift selection and optimization. The papers selected for additional reading also contain innovative artificial-lift solutions.

Artificial Lift additional reading available at OnePetro:

SPE 124926 - “Real-Time Diagnostics of Gas Lift Systems Using Intelligent Agents: A Case Study” by G. Stephenson, SPE, Occidental Petroleum, et al.(See JPT, May 2010, page 55, and SPE Prod & Oper, February 2010, page 111.)

SPE 124646 - “Application of Beam-Pumping Wells’ Energy-Saving Rebuilding Techniques in Daqing Oil Field” by Wang Fengshan, SPE, Daqing Oilfield Co., et al.

SPE 124515 - “Plunger-Lift Modeling Toward Efficient Liquid Unloading in Gas Wells” by G. Chava, SPE, Texas A&M University (now at Chevron), et al.(See SPE Proj Fac & Const, March 2010, page 38.)

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