Development of unconventional resources in the primary US basins helped the US increase oil production to where it is now one of the top two worldwide oil producing countries. The unconventional well production cycle is characterized by a comparably short natural flow period, and unconventional wells require artificial lift to continue production. Electric submersible pump (ESP) systems are used as first artificial lift system in the well life cycle in 36% of the US unconventional wells. Such use challenges ESP performance with gas, solids, and abrasives and other issues that negatively affect ESP run life and uptime.
A reliable solution to face those challenges is surveillance using real-time technologies with remote control capabilities. Artificial lift surveillance centers (ALSCs) provide 24/7 surveillance of all wells with ESPs as the artificial lift system to prevent or resolve ESP critical events. Reducing critical events in ESP operations helps reduce stress on ESP components and increases ESP reliability, but this requires timely intervention. Real-time interventions via remote control can eliminate the high-temperature, high-vibration, high-pressure, and high-electrical-load events that would otherwise lead to immediate equipment damage or premature failure.
This paper summarizes how an ALSC 24/7 service helped to increase uptime for an operator by using workflows for remote ESP analysis and control to spot critical events, which constituted 46% of 1026 events registered in the system for this operator. Remote intervention techniques, including a gas lock recovery feature, combined with global ESP well event classification and reporting workflows helped to identify every event and avoid ESP shutdowns, thus reducing deferred production and improving ESP performance.
Active collaboration of 24/7 ALSC personnel with the operator and field personnel reduced trips to the field, which directly reduced driving risk, one of the significant hazards in the oil industry.