A field trial has been completed in five oil producing wells, completed with progressive cavity pump (PCP) and under sand co-production scheme with the following objectives:

  1. Increasing well uptime by eliminating rotor stuck events and extending time between failures,

  2. Reducing locked-in potential associated to slow ramp-up process from initial to target offtake,

  3. Reducing the need for operator visits to start or adjust well running conditions after station trips,

To achieve this, four wells with very premature failures (less than 6-months) were selected for the trial. One fifth well with high level of depletion was also selected. The target for this last application was to check the impact of reducing fluid level safety factor on pump performance.

In all wells, PCP well controllers were installed with self-optimization routines that maintained safe fluid levels above the pump intake while adjusting speed for potential sand ingress. Speed ramp-up time was programmed for completion within two days of start up.

First, realtime signals were enhanced to monitor all well parameters that could affect performance, such as tubing head pressure (THP) and casing head pressure (CHP). This information was key to manage the actual fluid levels above the pump, even in gassy wells, allowing safety factors to be reduced by 50% without affecting pump performance.

Increase in pump run life by 40 to 140% was observed in the four sandy wells selected. No well interventions were required for sand flushing. Ramp-up time was successfully completed within a day of start-up and after two days production at target was stabilized.

After trips, it was found that the well started without the need for operators, as long as power supply was restored. Operator visits were only required for power or signal issues to be fixed, but well was safely kept optimized within those periods.

Estimated oil production availability increase from this trial is 12% per well per year.

This paper presents the main learnings from applying a self-optimization routine in 5 sandy wells and what is important to consider to achieve cost reduction, increase in well uptime and to reduce the need for manual adjustments/field visits.

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