This paper will describe the evolution of gas lift systems over the past few decades, making parallels with other artificial lift technologies (ESP, SRP, and PCP) and how they have evolved. The paper will then focus on new smart gas lift technology outlining its main characteristics and comparing it to existing technologies.
A historical overview of the evolution of gas lift will be given since it was first used to lift oil wells in the 19th century until today's digital systems. Advantages and limitations of each technology will be given, explaining the need for evolution, and paving the way to the next generations of gas lift systems required to lift oil wells with an always improved system's efficiency, reliability and ease of operation. A comparison with other types of artificial lift systems will also be made, showing how innovations helped to overcome challenges faced.
This paper will demonstrate that gas lift systems have evolved significantly from the 1860's until the 1950's, but it has seen very few improvements since then. Side pocket mandrels which are widely used nowadays bring clear advantages compared to other artificial lift systems, but are still limited in terms of flexibility and adaptability to changing reservoir conditions as well as their integration into the digital smart field. On the other hand, other types of artificial lift systems have seen significant evolutions during the past few years with the apparition of downhole monitoring sensors and surface smart controllers. This paper will show that new smart gas lift systems could help bridge this technology gap, allowing for a wider use of gas lift across oilfields, facilitating gas lift systems integration into the digital oilfields and resulting in an improved system efficiency, higher reliability, and reduction of HSE risks.
New information will be given in this paper on a new type of smart gas lift system, which could bring a step change on how gas lift is used in our industry.