This paper will discuss the history, theory of operation, candidate selection, installation procedure, and operation of casing plungers. Approximately 2000 casing plungers have been installed, primarily in the Appalachian Basin area of the US. The casing plunger is used to remove fluid from the well using only reservoir pressure to lift fluid from the wellbore. When fluid is removed from the wellbore, hydrostatic pressure is reduced and gas production can increase. As the name implies, the casing plunger operates in the production casing of the well. When installed in an appropriate well, casing plungers can help improve production and possibly reduce operating expenses. This paper will summarize current Appalachian Basin casing plunger practices. This paper will describe in depth a five well pilot project operating in Northeastern Colorado. The paper will review the planning, candidate selection, equipment installation, operation, maintenance, and evaluation of the project.
The concept of casing plungers can be traced back to 1956. Casing plungers have been operating successfully in some areas of the Appalachian Basin as early as the late 1980's. Swab wells, open-flow wells, tubing plunger, and pumping unit wells have all proven to be appropriate candidates for conversion to casing plunger production. Casing plungers are an accepted method of production and are currently being installed in new wells as well as in producing wells.
This paper will offer some of the experiences gained in casing plunger operations in the Appalachian Basin area to assist operators to determine if casing plunger technology may be applicable in the Rocky Mountain Region.