Technology Focus: Artificial Lift (March 2019)
- Greg Stephenson (Occidental Petroleum)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- March 2019
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 64 - 64
- 2019. Copyright is retained by the author. This document is distributed by SPE with the permission of the author. Contact the author for permission to use material from this document.
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With all the emphasis placed on artificial-lift run-life improvement, you might wonder if there are any tricks left in that bag. I contend there is one really big secret left—and it is hiding in plain sight. That trick is to use international standards as the foundation of your reliability program.
A Chinese proverb says, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” There are many steps in the long journey toward maximizing run life, including proper installation, operation, training, surveillance, audits, service-quality reviews, teardowns, and root-cause analysis. But, the first step should be to identify the requirements for your artificial-lift system and to communicate those requirements effectively to the vendor. In many cases, this is the most challenging step, largely because operators and suppliers often speak different languages.
Fortunately, international standards are there for us to bridge that language gap. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) defines a standard as “a document that provides requirements, specifications, guidelines, or characteristics that can be used consistently to ensure that materials, products, processes, and services are fit for their purpose.” Today, the American Petroleum Institute (API) and the ISO provide such standards for electrical submersible pumps, progressing-cavity pumps, sucker-rod pumps, gas lift, and plunger lift, and API complements their standards with recommended practices that provide guidance from industry experts in the use of such technologies.
A surprisingly small number of operators purchase monogrammed equipment or even reference the standards in their purchasing documents or contracts. This is unfortunate because standards can make everyone’s lives much easier, allowing operators and suppliers to speak the same language by providing consistent nomenclature, definitions, and performance ratings for equipment. Operators have greater peace of mind knowing their equipment is supported by sound engineering practices and will perform as promised. When standards are referenced in requests for proposal, vendors are able to provide responses that are more appropriate for the application, resulting in a greater chance of success in the field. Operators can also make an apples-to-apples comparison when evaluating the proposals they receive. Standards help level the playing field, enabling suppliers to segment the market more effectively. And they enable manufacturers to implement consistent, effective quality-assurance processes while avoiding the time and expense of custom solutions.
So, who writes all of these standards, anyway? The short answer is that we all do. API and ISO committees are generally composed of subject-matter experts rep-resenting an equal number of operators and vendors, often from different parts of the world. You can join one of these committees to help improve a particular standard. The key to making standards work for all of us is to use them. The more we use standards in our business, the better they will become over time.
Recommended additional reading at OnePetro: www.onepetro.org.
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SPE 192511 ESP Run-Life Improvement Through Auditing of ESP Workshops by Tamer Edries, Khalda Petroleum, et al.
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