Implementation of compatible production technologies for extraction of heavy oil using progressing cavity pump (PCP) systems in three different oilfields: Altamira, Ebano, Panuco & Cacalilao; located in Northeastern Mexico. The optimization process was accomplished thru implementation of Insert Progressing Cavity Pumps (I-PCP) and hydraulic driveheads, in areas without electric power network, and high restrictions of well service rigs.

The project started with conventional PCP, and a second phase achieved an important operational improvement thru I-PCP and surface systems with smaller internal combustion engines in response to the operator's request for less fuel consumption. In 2008 January a conventional PCP was installed in the Franco Española-66 well (60 BFD & 1000 m lifting capacity), successfully operating for 2 years. Subsequently between 2008 and 2009, 32 additional PCP were installed, but the operator company had serious restrictions for optimization programs because of unavailability of well intervention rigs.

In response for January 2010, an I-PCP was installed in the Altamira-1022 well (189 BFD & 1500 m lifting capacity), for extraction of heavy oil (10-13 °API); the favorable results led to installation of over 200 additional PCP systems in shallow wells (<450 m). At the same time, 80 power generators as surface equipment were installed in Ebano field; this due to the absence of electricity in the area. Those generators used 4.3 and 5.7 liter internal combustion engines. Those wells had low gas-oil ratio (GOR), therefore the use of natural gas obtained from annulus (casing-tubing) was not an option, so an outsourcing of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) was required. Considerable financial costs for high daily gas consumption were caused by this situation.

Facing this condition, the first hydraulic surface equipment with smaller capacity (3.0 L) was installed for January 2012, showing a decrease in gas consumption and lower costs. Likewise, the new application was focused on shallow wells, during next two years, in which all of the initial engines were replaced.

This PCP optimization process showed several positive economic impacts:

  • Decrease of intervention rig frequency regarding former PCP systems installed, which demanded pulling of production tubing string.

  • Saving in time and cost in front of PCP failures due to lower operating time using flush-by units, in comparison with bigger intervention rigs; i.e., workover or maintenance rigs.

  • Lower deferred production levels were obtained.

  • Additional cost saving associated to the consumption of LPG.

Implementation of this PCP process as artificial lift system for heavy oil wells achieved important improvements regarding operational performance and well productivity.

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