The walking beam pumpjack, proven reliable and practical in the production of conventional reserves, is often ineffective in meeting the production demands in the new resource and recovery areas. As a result, a new breed of pumpjacks is emerging, offering the control and flexibility required for optimizing production in these new production areas.

Pengalta Research & Development Ltd., on behalf of six oil producers, completed a study in February, 1984, identifying and evaluating the growing list of novel pumpjacks and conversion kits available for modifying conventional units. This paper will identify some of the needs, the capabilities and the systems examined as well as the methods used for evaluating the systems.


Pengalta Research & Development Ltd. became exposed to the new resource areas through a study to develop an improved downhole pump for heavy oil. Through that study it was soon apparent that the difficulties encountered were not just pump related. The pumping system efficiency is a product of several co-operative (or non-co-operative) actions. The downhole pump, the sucker rod, the pumpjack and the produced fluid, all contribute to the efficiency and economics of heavy oil production. The surface unit was identified as an area in which improvements could be made. This was evidenced by every increasing number and variety of new and novel pumpjacks entering the market.

Primary heavy oil production is not the only market where these systems are being utilized. The implementation of enhanced recovery schemes has further complicated the lifting process by introducing slant and deviated holes, changing production rates and loads, and wellhead movement.

Greater attention is being focused on accommodating farmers and their needs for free movement of irrigation systems, minimizing usage of valuable agricultural property and for aesthetics.

The search for oil is leading to a large number of wells being developed in areas of poor drainage. These environments make the installation of conventional equipment difficult and costly.

The technology accompanying the new breed of pumpjacks is not new but acknowledges the flexibility required to meet the demands of the new resource areas. Not all of the systems are capable of performing the same functions nor are they suited for all areas. Many of the systems are aiming for certain production applications and have varying degrees of exposure in those areas.

Pengalta organized a consortium of oil companies interested in identifying the effectiveness of the new emerging units. In November, 1982 Pengalta set out to determine the Canadian pumpjack manufacturers and suppliers, their operation, stage of development and their field experience. Our findings were documented and the systems evaluated in a report completed in May 1983.

The program was separated into four stages:

  1. Identification of systems familiar to the consortium and their experiences

  2. Identification of other systems used by the industry

  3. Visits with manufacturers to:

    • obtain user list

    • determine operation

    • identify capabilities

  4. User information on units obtained including length of operation, application, stroke length and rate. difficulties encountered, effectiveness, and general comments

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