Marathon Oil operates several brownfields in the Rockies, most of which are approaching an operating life of 100 years. To optimize the production from these mature fields, Marathon Oil is implementing several technology upgrades under the banner of the digital oil field—using information technology innovations to better monitor, record and analyze field data for faster and more informed optimization decisions.

One area receiving particular focus is the artificial lift method of electrical submersible pumps (ESPs). In 2010 Marathon Oil began installing downhole sensors in all ESP wells that were pulled for either a failure or a workover and downloading the data into an ESP real-time monitoring, diagnosis and analysis software system. The system brings intelligence to ESP operations by monitoring pump data from each well in real time, and collecting this data in a central location. The operator can then select from different software tools—also centrally located—to analyze the information, verify ESP operation within required parameters and if necessary, decide how to change the operating parameters to improve pump performance and boost production. The system also can be set with alarm capabilities to provide real-time notification of a problem.

The intelligent capabilities of the system plugged into Marathon Oil’s digital oilfield architecture help field engineers work smarter and more efficiently. Instead of spending needless hours travelling from field to field to monitor pump performance, engineers are notified of problems early and receive instant verification of field performance. The system minimizes nonproductive time (NPT) and frees up the field crews to work on other projects designed to increase production.

This paper provides several case studies that highlight through a digital oilfield solution how an intelligent ESP-optimization option is identifying problems early and extending the economic production life of Marathon Oil’s mature fields in the Rocky Mountain (Rockies) region of the United States (US). At the time of this paper, Marathon Oil installed downhole sensors in more than 430 of its 770 ESP wells, which are all presently being monitored via the ESP real-time monitoring and analysis program. Within this short period of real-time monitoring, Marathon Oil has realized production gains of over 700 Barrels of Oil per Day (BOPD) in one of the fields.

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