This paper describes a methodology for the systematic redesign of traditional production maintenance operations as they relate to subsurface failures of sucker rod pumped wells. The paper advocates an organized approach to process definition, refinement and redesign such that improvement objectives are clearly communicated, appropriate human and physical resources are brought to bear, and a system of improvement measurements becomes the overriding focus of the operation. Specific examples of the use of statistical process control tools in the production maintenance quality improvement effort are explored.


Operators of mature, economically marginal oil fields currently face a dilemma consisting of stagnant product price, declining production and opportunities to replace production, a dwindling vendor support base and an increasingly burdensome regulatory environment. After more than ten years of "traditional" survival tactics such as manpower reduction, focused cost reduction programs and property sale/trade strategies, it has become apparent that short term measures, originally designed to "bridge the gas" between bust and boom, are incompatible with long term industry viability. Increasingly, managers of marginal and submarginal assets are turning to unconventional philosophies such as alliances or partnering agreements with the service sector, Total Quality Management and lifecycle cost optimization as a means of establishing a new operational paradigm which gives equal weight to the need for redesigned, optimized processes and the need for near term profitability.

Well Maintenance As A Process

The concept of process optimization is prevalent throughout the more conventional manufacturing industries which employ systems of workers and machines to produce goods which are offered to the public or to other manufacturers for inclusion in yet another product.

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