In this paper is described the application of a genetic algorithm (GA) to the problem of optimizing production in oil fields operating under the gas lift method. The chosen computational methodology proves to be very effective and efficient in the execution of the task. The method provides assistance to the production engineer en the problem of assigning optimum gas-injection rates to each individual well given an available total gas supply for the field. This development is incorporated as an important utility in a system for computer aided analysis and optimization of gas lift wells developed in Corpoven S.A. (CORPOLAG).
The gas-lift optimization system is implemented by means of a genetic algorithm that executes an "intelligent search" in a "gas-injection rate" space. It obtains automatically and with a reasonable small computational effort a distribution of gas-injection rates for the wells in the field. This gas-injection rate is compatible with the restriction of the available gas supply for the field, and maximizes the total quantity of produced liquid.
The necessity of optimizing gas lift production is not new. However, the required equipment and technology to achieve this kind of optimization are relatively new. A widely accepted definition of gas-lift optimization is to obtain the maximum output under specified operating conditions. In this respect it should be noted that the definition does not explicitly suggest that maximum production be considered optimum.