Sucker rod pumps provide mechanical energy to lift oil from bottom hole to surface when oil wells do not have enough energy to produce the oil through natural flow. It is efficient, simple, easy to be operated, and can be applied to slim holes, multiple completions, and high-temperature and viscous oils. The disadvantages include excessive friction in crooked holes, solid-sensitive problems, low efficiency in gassy wells, limited depth, and bulky volume. The load on the rod is one of the key factors that dictate the maintenance frequency of pumping unit, energy consumed to lift the fluid, and the optimization of pumping system operating parameters.

The cyclic load applied on the rod causes the fatigue and finally the failure of the rod if not designed properly. The rod load is a function of friction force, plunger acceleration/deceleration, weights of plunger, fluid being lifted, and sucker rods string, and the pressures above and below on plunger. Literature review indicates that a model to accurately calculate the load of a pumping cycle is highly desired. In this study, we couple the wellbore with reservoir performance to better analyze the dynamics of pump system, which yields more accurate results.

In this study, force balance during the pumping cycle is analyzed. Friction force due to the movement of the plunger and the rod, buoyant force, and gravity force are included in the modeling. The effects of acceleration and deceleration of the plunger on rod are considered. The sensitivity of pumping speed is investigated. This study proposed a more general model comparing with former researches because more factors that affect the load applying on rod are included. Including the friction force due to the viscous fluid is critical to rod load analysis in pumping heavy oil.

The proposed model is significant to the cyclic fatigue and failure analysis of rod in sucker rod pumping system. It can be used to predict the possible failure point for rod string by analyzing load along the whole string. It is also a useful tool to design the tapered rod string to minimize the maximum rod load while achieving optimum rod string life. Therefore, an optimization of sucker rod pumping system is implemented by balancing the tradeoff between the maximum rod string life (or rod size) and the minimum rod load (or lowest energy consumption).

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