Selection of the most economical artificial lift method is necessary for the operator to realize the maximum potential from developing any oil or gas field. Historically the methods used to select the method of lift for a particularfield have varied broadly across the industry, including

  • Determining what methods will lift at the desired rates and from the required depths.

  • Evaluating lists of advantages and disadvantages.

  • Use of "expert" systems to both eliminate and select systems.

  • Evaluation of initial costs, operating costs, production capabilities, etc. using economics as a tool of selection.

This paper will highlight some of the methods commonly used for selection and also include some examples of costs and profits over time calculated to the present time as a tool of selection. The operator should consider all of these methods when selecting a method of artificial lift, especially for a large, long-term project.


In artificial lift design the engineer is faced with matching facility constraints, artificial lift capabilities and the well productivity so that an efficient lift installation results. Energy efficiency will partially determine the cost of operation, but this is only one of many factors to be considered.

In the typical artificial lift problem, the type of lift has already been determined and the engineer has the problem of applying that system to the particular well. The more basic question, however, is how to determine what is the proper type of artificial lift to apply in a given field.

Each of the four major types of artificial lift will be discussed before examining some of the selection techniques. Some additional methods of lift will also be discussed. Preliminary comments related to reservoir and well factors that should be taken into consideration are presented.

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