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Artificial Lift Systems
The purpose of any artificial lift system, including gas lift, is to reduce the bottomhole pressure in order to allow the
well to flow under the existing formation pressure. With gas lift, this can be accomplished by forcing gas through a
choke or control valve, located at the surface, down the annulus and then through valves into the tubing. The
injected gas aerates the liquid column in the tubing. The aeration reduces the bottomhole pressure caused by the
weight of the column of fluid in the tubing. With sufficient aeration, the bottomhole pressure may be reduced to a
point where the well once again begins to flow.
The continuous aeration of the fluid column in the tubing will cause more oil to flow from the formation into the
wellbore and then to the surface. Over time, though, as more fluids are produced, the average reservoir pressure
decreases, requiring increasing amounts of aeration to maintain a constant production level.
The lifting of fluids can be accomplished by either continuous or intermittent gas injection.
In continuous flow gas lift, a continuous volume of high pressure gas is introduced into the annulus and tubing at a
controlled rate, causing a continuous flow of fluids from the well ( Figure 1 ).

Figure 1

This artificial lift method is usually applied to high productivity index wells which have high bottomhole pressures
relative to their depths. For normal tubing strings, it is possible to lift from 200 to 20,000 barrels per day per well. If,
alternatively, we choose to inject gas down the tubing and produce fluid up the annulus, it is possible to lift up to
80,000 barrels per day using continuous gas lift. When small macaroni tubing strings are used, it is possible to

obtain production rates as low as 25 barrels per day using continuous lift. The range of continuous gas lift, then, is
from 25 to 80,000 barrels per day.
The other gas lift method involves intermittent rather than continuous injection of lift gas. It is generally applied
only when a limited amount of fluid is flowing from the reservoir into the well-bore. Under these conditions it
becomes necessary to wait until the fluid volume in the wellbore builds up to a level worth lifting ( Figure 2 ).

Figure 2

Once the fluid builds to this level, a slug of gas is injected down the annulus, through a gas lift valve and into the
tubing, where it pushes the column of fluid to the surface as a slug. Gas injection is then interrupted until the fluid
level builds up again to the appropriate level.
Cycling is regulated to coincide with the buildup of the fluid level in the wellbore. Intermittent injection and,
therefore, intermittent production, are accomplished by the use of a time cycle controller or an adjustable choke
located at the surface on the gas injection line.
Intermittent flow gas lift is ideally suited for a well which has a high productivity index but a low average reservoir
pressure or, alternatively, a well with a low productivity index but high reservoir pressure.
The major advantage of gas lift as an artificial lift mechanism is the fact that the specific gravity of gas is so much
less than that of oil or salt water. The following example illustrates this statement.
Assume that we have three 6,000-foot wells each completed with tubing on a packer and each having a surface
pressure of 100 psi ( Figure 3 ). The first well is filled with salt water, the second with oil, and the third with gas.
Our objective is to calculate the bottomhole pressure of each.

Figure 3

We begin with the well filled with salt water. The specific gravity of salt water is 1.07 which is equivalent to a
hydrostatic gradient of 0.465 psi per foot. The static bottomhole pressure for this well, then, will be:
100 + 0.465 (6000) = 2890 psi.
Now we perform the same calculations for the oil well. If the column is filled with 0.8 specific gravity oil, with a
pressure gradient of 0.346 psi per foot, then the static bottomhole pressure will be 2176 psi. This is more than 700
pounds less than that for the well filled with salt water.
Now we turn to the gas-filled well. We are told that it has an equivalent pressure gradient of 0.069 psi per foot. This
gives a static bottomhole pressure of 514 psi, a value which is much lower than the bottom-hole pressures of the oiland salt water-filled wells.
The pressure profiles for the conditions obtained in each well are shown graphically in Figure 4 .

Figure 4

We see the very low bottomhole pressure that exists when a well is filled with gas. We conclude that, if we have a
well filled with oil or water and can mix the liquid column with gas, the bottom-hole pressure will be reduced
significantly. With a reduced bottomhole pressure, fluid inflow from the formation will be increased and, perhaps,
become continuous. It is the petroleum engineers job, then, to select the tubing size, the gas pressure and volumes,
points of injection, and frequency of injection so as to optimize the production from the well.

Gas Lift vs. Pump-Assisted Lift

The choice between gas lift and pump-assisted lift is clearly one of the most important decisions that a production
engineer must undertake with regards to wells in need of artificial lift. Productivity, production-induced problems
and economics must be considered together.
The total pressure gradient in the well is a combination of the hydrostatic and the friction pressure drops. As the
working GLR increases, the hydrostatic pressure drop decreases but the friction pressure drop increases. As the GLR
increases further, the rate with which the total pressure drop decreases is reduced. Eventually, at the "optimum" GLR
(as it was called when the costs of gas reinjection were insignificant compared to the benefits of incremental oil rate)
the decrease in the hydrostatic pressure drop is offset by the increase in the friction pressure drop.
Today, with production costs escalating, this GLR can no longer be considered as the "optimum" but rather as the
"limit" GLR. This physical limit may not be even near the optimum, which, instead, must relate the incremental
production rate to the additional costs of gas lift. Economic calculations are indicated.
The physical limit GLR also limits the minimum flowing bottom hole pressure which is often several hundred psi.
Pump-assisted lift with downhole pumps can reduce the flowing bottomhole pressure to a much lower value.
Of course the latter is likely to be affected by other important production engineering considerations such as sand
production, water and/or gas coning.

Pressure Operated Valves

A schematic of a typical gas lift valve installed in a tubing string is shown in Figure 1 .

Figure 1

Nitrogen is normally injected into the dome and charged to a specified pressure. The bellows serve as a flexible or
responsive element. The movement of the bellows causes the stem to rise and fall and the ball to open and close over
the port. When the port is open, the annulus and tubing are in communication. Because the area of the bellows (Ab)
is much larger than the area of the port (Ap), it is the casing pressure which controls the operation of this valve. This
type of valve, then, is referred to as a casing pressure-operated valve or, more simply, a "pressure-operated valve." It
requires a buildup in casing pressure to open and a reduction in casing pressure to close. A cross section of a typical
pressure-operated valve is shown in Figure 2 .

Figure 2

The pressure-operated valve often has a spring which is located above the bellows.

Fluid Operated Valves

Figure 1 is a schematic of a different type of gas lift valve, one referred to as a fluid-operated valve.

Figure 1

Note that the port is exposed to the casing pressure and the bellows is exposed to the tubing pressure. Rather than a
single flexible element, we now have both a spring and an optional dome charge supplying the closing force. Most
manufacturers of this type of valve charge the dome only when high valve setting pressures require a supplement to
the spring force. In this case, because of the large bellows area, it is the tubing pressure rather than the casing
pressure which controls the operation of the valve. For this reason, it is called a fluid-operated valve. It requires a
decrease in tubing pressure to close. A cross section of a typical fluid-operated valve is shown in Figure 2 .

Figure 2

Fluid Operated Valves

Figure 1 is a schematic of a different type of gas lift valve, one referred to as a fluid-operated valve.

Figure 1

Note that the port is exposed to the casing pressure and the bellows is exposed to the tubing pressure. Rather than a
single flexible element, we now have both a spring and an optional dome charge supplying the closing force. Most
manufacturers of this type of valve charge the dome only when high valve setting pressures require a supplement to
the spring force. In this case, because of the large bellows area, it is the tubing pressure rather than the casing
pressure which controls the operation of the valve. For this reason, it is called a fluid-operated valve. It requires a
decrease in tubing pressure to close. A cross section of a typical fluid-operated valve is shown in Figure 2 .

Figure 2

Fluid Operated Valves

Figure 1 is a schematic of a different type of gas lift valve, one referred to as a fluid-operated valve.

Figure 1

Note that the port is exposed to the casing pressure and the bellows is exposed to the tubing pressure. Rather than a
single flexible element, we now have both a spring and an optional dome charge supplying the closing force. Most
manufacturers of this type of valve charge the dome only when high valve setting pressures require a supplement to
the spring force. In this case, because of the large bellows area, it is the tubing pressure rather than the casing
pressure which controls the operation of the valve. For this reason, it is called a fluid-operated valve. It requires a
decrease in tubing pressure to close. A cross section of a typical fluid-operated valve is shown in Figure 2 .

Figure 2

Valve Selection
The type of valve to be used for a given installation will depend on whether the well is to be placed on intermittent
or continuous gas lift. If it is not certain which type of gas lift operation will take place, as in cases where a wells
performance is borderline, then valves may be selected which are suitable for both continuous and intermittent lift.
Valves used for continuous flow must be sensitive to tubing pressure when in the open position. As the tubing
pressure decreases, the valve should begin to throttle closed so as to decrease gas throughput. As the tubing pressure
increases, the valve should open so as to increase gas throughput. This proportional response to the increase and
decrease in tubing pressure maintains the established flowing tubing pressure and tends to keep a constant pressure
inside the tubing. The ideal valve for continuous flow gas lift, then, is the throttling valve.
The types of valves to be used for intermittent lift depend upon whether we are going to install a single point or
multipoint injection system. In single point intermittent gas lift operation, all of the gas necessary to move the liquid
slug to the surface is injected through the operating valve, generally the bottom valve in the string.
For this type of installation, it is important that a large volume of gas passes quickly through the valve. For this
reason the valve should be designed to expand to a large port size as soon as it is opened and remain in the fully
open position until closing. Depending upon the completion configuration, the port size will normally range in
diameter from 3/8 to 3/4-inch.
For multipoint intermittent gas lift operation, each valve in turn should allow sufficient gas to pass so as to move the
slug to the next higher valve. The pressure under the slug opens the valve it has just passed, and supplements the gas
being injected through the lower valves. As the slug moves to the surface, the valves normally remain open until the
slug is produced at the surface.

Valve Mechanics
Because the opening and closing characteristics of the various valves in our gas lift system are so important to their
operation, we should take a few minutes to understand how and when a valve will open, when it will close, and what
the difference in these two pressures, referred to as spread, really means.
In Figure 1 we see a schematic of a casing pressure-operated valve in the closed position. It is a single element valve
for which we would like to calculate the opening and closing pressures. To do this, we must write a force-balance
equation for the valve.

Figure 1

The force tending to close the valve is equal to:

pb Ab
where pb is the bellows pressure and Ab is the bellows area.
The force tending to open the valve is equal to:
pc (Ab - Ap) + pt Ap
where pc is the casing pressure; Ap is the area of the stem or port; and pt is the tubing pressure.
If we equate these two terms, we obtain an expression for the casing pressure, pc, that will just open the valve.
We may apply this relationship to a specific example.

Sample Exercise:
We are told that the bellows pressure area, Ab, is 0.77 square inches and the area of the port, Ap, is 0.129 square
inches. The bellows pressure, pb, is set at 500 psi and the tubing pressure, pt, is 425 psi. We are asked to calculate the
casing pressure required to open the valve. We first calculate R:
R = Ap/Ab = 0.129/0.77 = 0.167
and then pc
The casing pressure required to open the valve is 15 psi above the bellows pressure. A higher casing pressure is
required because of the effect of the lower tubing pressure on the port area.
We may also calculate the closing pressure of the valve once it is opened. Once again we equate the forces tending
to keep the valve opened with those tending to close it. The force tending to close the valve is equal to:
pb Ab.
The force tending to hold the valve opened is equal to:
pc(Ab - Ap) + pc Ap
Note that when the valve is open, the casing pressure in the last term has replaced the tubing pressure.
Equating these two terms we find the casing pressure required to close the valve:
pc = pb
In our example, the bellows pressure is 500 psi and so the valve will close at this pressure.

Valve Spread
The difference between the opening pressure and the closing pressure is 15 psi. We refer to this as the spread.
Spread = opening pressure - closing pressure
= 515 - 500
= 15 psi.
By analyzing our equations, we can show that the spread is a function of the ratio R, the bellows pressure, and the
tubing pressure. The relationship is:
We see that for given bellows and tubing pressures we may reduce the spread by reducing the area of the port
opening. The spread is particularly important in intermittent gas lift installations, because it controls the volume of
gas used in each cycle. As the pressure reduction, or spread, required to close the operating valve increases, the
amount of gas injected during the cycle also increases. A small port size, though, increases horsepower requirements
and, therefore, a balance must be struck between gas conservation and horsepower requirements.

Pilot Valves
The pilot valve was developed in response to the need for a larger port size while maintaining close control over
spread characteristics. It has a small
port which is used for spread control and a larger port which is used for more efficient gas passage. The pilot valve,
then, answers this two-fold need and is often used for intermittent gas lift operations. A schematic representation and
photograph of a pilot valve are shown in Figure 2 and Figure 3 respectively.

Figure 3

Figure 2

Flow Characteristics of a Gas Lift Valve

The flow characteristics of a gas lift valve are provided in a plot of a flow rate versus tubing pressure. This type of
plot will help us to understand the performance characteristics of throttling valves. A typical plot is shown in Figure

Figure 4

The vertical axis is flow rate and the horizontal axis is tubing pressure. At very low tubing pressure, to left of point
1, the valve is closed. As the tubing pressure reaches point 1, the valve begins to open and gas flows from the casing
to the tubing. The flow rate increases as the port continues to open. Throttling occurs from point 2 to point 3, at
which point the port is. fully opened and throttling ends. The maximum flow rate occurs at point 4. As the tubing
pressure increases from point 4 to point 5, the tubing and casing pressures become balanced and the flow rate drops
to zero.
During the .reverse cycle, as the tubing pressure decreases, the valve opens at point 5, throttling takes place between
points 3 and 2, and the valve throttle closes between points 2 and 1.

Gas Lift Installations

The type of gas lift installation to be used in a particular well depends upon whether the well is to be placed on
continuous or intermittent lift. This in turn depends such considerations as

type of completion
possibility of sand production
potential for water and/or gas coning
future well inflow performance

wellbore deviation

Some of the more common gas lift installations include the open, semiclosed, closed, chamber, macaroni and
annular installations. This list by no means includes all of the installations possible.

Open Installations
In the open installation, the tubing string is suspended in the well without a packer. As shown in Figure 1 , the casing
and tubing are in communication and only a fluid seal in the annulus prevents gas from blowing around the bottom
of the tubing.

Figure 1

When this occurs, gas is wasted, the casing pressure causes an additional backpressure on the formation, and
production is interrupted. There are a number of other disadvantages to the open installation. For example, the
valves that are submerged in well fluids may corrode and, because the fluid rises in the annulus every time the well
is shut-in, the fluid must flow through the valves each time production resumes, causing the valves to wear out
faster. The open installation, then, is not normally recommended. It is used when there is a very strong reason not to
install a packer.

Semiclosed Installations
In the semiclosed installation, a packer is installed in the tubing to pack off the annular space between the tubing and
the casing ( Figure 2 ). This type of installation may be used for both continuous and intermittent flow.

Figure 2

With the semiclosed installation, produced fluids cannot enter the annular space and the casing pressure is not in
direct communication with the formation. There is the possibility, however, that the injected gas, once it enters the
tubing string, may act upon the formation.

Closed Installations
In order to prevent such communication, we may elect to install a closed system. In the closed system, a standing
valve is placed in the tubing string below the bottom gas lift valve ( Figure 3 ).

Figure 3

The standing valve prevents fluids from moving downward from a point above to a point below it. Thus, high
pressure-injected gas entering the tubing from the annulus is unable to communicate with the formation, and any
produced fluids standing in the tubing will be prevented from backflowing toward the formation. The standing valve
should be included in all intermittent gas lift installations.

Chamber Installations
Another type of gas lift installation, called a chamber installation, can greatly increase oil production, especially if
we have a low bottomhole pressure but high productivity index well. It is used in intermittent lift operations and its
purpose is to increase the volume of fluids in the wellbore prior to lifting without significantly increasing the
backpressure on the formation.
A schematic of a two-packer chamber installation appears in Figure 4 .

Figure 4

It has both a lower packer and an upper packer, called a bypass packer. As the chamber is filling, gas in the chamber
is bled off through a bleed valve into the tubing.
When the chamber is filled, a slug of gas is injected down the annulus, opening the operating valve. The gas in the
chamber forces the liquid to enter the tubing through a perforated nipple above the bottom packer ( Figure 5 ).

Figure 5

When all the liquid in the chamber above the nipple is forced into the tubing, gas follows behind the slug and forces
it to the surface ( Figure 6 ). The operating valve should close when the slug reaches the surface, at which time the
filling cycle begins once again. The two-packer chamber installation is just one of a number of different chamber
installations which may be installed.

Figure 6

Slim Hole Installations

Many ultra-slim hole completions have been made, especially in lower productivity wells. A slim hole completion
normally means setting a string of 2 3/8 to 3 1/2-inch OD pipes as the casing. A smaller size tubing, say, 1 to 1 1/2inches in diameter, is then run inside this casing for artificial lift purposes. This smaller tubing is commonly referred
to as a macaroni string. In the sample installation shown in Figure 7 , the production casing is 2 7/8-inch OD.

Figure 7

Inside, it is a 1 1/2-inch ID tubing on a packer. The gas lift valves are sliding side-door valves and have an ID of 1
Slim hole completions are especially useful in wells where we wish to produce from more than one zone without
commingling. Production rates possible from a slim hole completion for continuous gas lift installations depend on
the ID of the tubing. The rates can range from 150 barrels per day for 3/4-inch tubing to as high as 900 barrels per
day for 1 1/2-inch ID tubing. Considerably smaller production rates will be realized if intermittent gas lift is applied.

Annular Flow
In most gas lift operations, it is best to confine production to the tubing. In offshore installations, wells are restricted
to tubing flow because of safety and operating regulations. There are many instances, particularly in the Middle
East, where wells produce at rates anywhere from 5,000 to 80,000 barrels per day. To produce these volumes, we
often turn to annular flow.
In annular flow, gas is injected down the tubing and production takes place up the annulus. As shown in Figure 8 , a
bull plug has been placed on the bottom of the tubing to contain the injected gas.

Figure 8

Alternatively, we may install a small-bore orifice or check valve at this location. The primary reason for using
annular flow, then, is to allow a higher level of production.

1: What is the difference between intermittent and continuous gas lift? When is each preferred? What is the
operating procedure for each?

ANS: In continuous flow gas lift, a continuous volume of gas is introduced into the annulus and tubing at a
controlled rate causing a continuous flow of fluids from the well. Normally the gas flows from the annulus through a
single operating valve into the tubing. Fluids are produced up the tubing. As an alternative the gas may be injected
down the tubing pass through an operating valve and cause fluids to be introduced up the annulus. This is referred to
as annular flow. Continuous gas lift assists production through the continuous aeration of the fluid column.
In intermittent gas lift the gas-lift gas is injected into the tubing through one or more operating valves on an
intermittent basis. The injected gas lifts the liquid, that has built up in the tubing, to the surface in the form of a slug.
Once the slug reaches the surface, gas injection ceases until the fluid column builds to a pre-determined level in the
tubing once again.
For both continuous and intermittent gas lift operations a series of gas lift valves are placed in the tubing above the
operating valve so that the well may be unloaded after having been killed by kill fluids.
Continuous gas lift is usually applied to high productivity wells which have high bottomhole pressures. Intermittent
lift is ideally applied to high productivity index wells with low average reservoir pressure or, alternatively, those
with a low productivity index and high average reservoir pressure.

2: A well 5000 feet deep is completed with a 2 1/2-inch tubing on a packer. The static pressure is 2250 psi at 5000
ft and the productivity index is 1.2 BPD/psi. The flowing tubing head pressure is 100 psi. The specific gravities of
the fluids at the average temperature and pressure in the tubing are: salt water = 1.07; oil = 0.8; gas = 0.16. The
average temperature is 540 R; the average pressure in the tubing is 1000 psi. Assume (somewhat ideally) that there
are no frictional pressure losses and that "average" conditions prevail throughout the tubing string. Calculate the
liquid flow rate from the well for the following conditions:
a. only oil and water are produced and the water cut ranges from 0.0 to 1.0;
b. same condition as (a.) only now there is a free gas production that gives an average GOR in the tubing of
200 SCF/B.
c. same condition as (b.) but now gas-lift gas is injected so as to give a GLR above the point of injection of
500 SCF/B. Assume the point of gas injection to be at three possible depths: 1000 ft, 2500 ft, and 5000 ft.
Plot the flow rate - water cut curves for each of the above and comment.

ANS: Part (a)

pR = 2250 psi; PI = 1.2 BPD/psi
pth = 100 psi
specific gravity (relative to water)
salt water = 1.07
crude = 0.8
gas = 0.016
We assume that frictional pressure losses are negligible and so we make pressure calculations on the basis of a
hydrostatic column of fluid. In the first part of this problem the GOR = 0. Our relationships, then, are:

q = 1.2 (2250 - pwf) BPD (1)

pwf = 100 + 0.433 (5000) SG(avg) (2)
SG(avg) = 1.07 WC + 0.8 (1-WC) (3)
pwf = bottomhole flowing pressure, psi
SG(avg) = average produced fluid, specific gravity (relative to water)
WC = water cut, fraction
q = fluid flow rate, BPD
The three equations may be combined to obtain a single, linear equation. Alternatively, a simple program may be
written to obtain:
WC q

0 501.6
0.2 361.3
0.4 221.0
0.6 80.7
0.7 10.6
These data plots are shown in Figure 1 .

Figure 1

Part (b)
Now we have free gas produced with the crude oil. The GOR is assumed fixed at 200 SCF/B. We must first convert
this to the volume of gas in each barrel. We are asked to assume an average tubing temperature and pressure of
520R and 1000 psi. Applying the gas law and remembering that 1 bbl = 5.62 cu. ft.

(@ 1000 psi, 520R)

In each barrel of oil production there is, on average, 0.591 bbls. of gas. The proportion of gas and oil per barrel of
hydrocarbon, then, is:

For this set of conditions for the hydrocarbon fluids, Eq. (3) becomes:

Using Eqs. (1), (2) and (4) we obtain the following solution:
WC q
0 1117
0.2 854
0.4 590
0.6 327
0.8 62

Part (c)
If gas lift gas is injected so as to provide a GLR of 500 SCF/B in the produced fluid which has a GOR of 200 SCF/B
then we have the following:
Below the point of gas injection Eq. (4) is valid. Above the point of gas injection there is a GLR of 500 SCF/B. The
volume of gas per barrel of liquid above the point of injection, then, is obtained as follows:

(@ 1000 psi, 520R)

The relative phases produced in each barrel, then, will be:

And, above the point of gas injection, Eq. (4) becomes:

If the depth to the point of injection is L, then Eq. (2) becomes:

Where SG(avg)L is given by Eq. (5) and SG(avg) by Eq. (4).
Solving Eqs. (5), (4), (6) and (1) for range of WC's and L = l000, 2500, 5000 we obtain the curves shown in Figure 1
WC L=100' L=2500' L=5000
0 1192 1305 1493
0.2 970 1145 1436
0.4 748 985 1379
0.6 526 825 1322
0.8 305 664 1266
1.0 82 504 1209
The results of Parts (a)(b) and (c) are shown on the accompanying graph. The slope of Part (a) line is flatter than that
of Part (b) because the effect of the free gas in the oil diminishes as the water cut increases. The slope of the lines for
Part (c) decreases in absolute value as the depth of the operating valve decreases because of the increasing effect of
injected gas on the bottomhole pressure and, then, flow rate. Increasing the volume of gas in all cases below the
optimum GOR increases the flow rate. Injecting it at a greater depth also increases the flow rate.

3: Draw a schematic of the following valves:

a. pressure-operated valve
b. fluid-operated valve
c. throttling valve

ANS: (a)Schematic of a pressure operated valve Figure 1

(b)Schematic of a fluid operated valve Figure 2

Figure 1

(c)Schematic of a throttling valve

Figure 3

Figure 2

4: Develop the expressions defining the opening and closing pressures of a fluid operated valve with a spring
element (see illustration). (Assume that the spring tension is an equivalent pressure applied to the area of the bellows
minus the area of the port.) What is the expression for spread?
Given pc - 1500 psi, R = 0.10, St = 600 psi, pd = 300 psi. What is the opening and closing fluid pressure? What are
they if St = 1000 psi? How can the spread be minimized?

ANS: Part (a)

Referring to the schematic of the fluid operated valve and noting that St is an equivalent pressure caused by the
spring tension which acts on the area (Ab - Ap), we may write a force balance for the valve just as it is about to
Forces attempting to open the valve = pc Ap + pt (Ab - Ap)
Forces attempting to close the valve = pd Ab + St (Ab - Ap)
Equating these two terms we may solve for pt, the fluid pressure required to open the valve:

R = Ap / Ab
Ap = area of the port, sq. in
Ab= area of the bellows, sq. in

pd = pressure in the dome, psi

pc = casing pressure as valve opens, psi
pt = tubing pressure required to open the valve, psi
(Note that as the casing pressure increases, the tubing pressure required to open the valve decreases).
Once the valve is open we may write a new expression for the forces attempting to close the valve just as it is about
to close.
Forces attempting to close the valve = pd Ab + St (Ab - Ap)
Forces attempting to open the valve = pt Ap + pt (Ab - Ap)
Equating these two terms gives:
pt Ab = pd Ab + St (Ab - Ap)
Solving for pt and introducing the expression for R gives
pt = pd + St (1 - R) (2)
We now have expressions for the opening and closing pressure of the valve. It is these pressures, corrected for
surface conditions, to which the valve is set in the test rack so as to operate under design conditions. The difference
between the closing and opening fluid pressure is the spread.

For the Specific data provided, that is, pc = 1500 psi; R = 0.10; St = 600 psi; pd = 300 psi we may calculate the
opening and closing pressures as follows:
Opening pressure (1):

Closing Pressure Eq. (2)

pt = pd + St (1-R) = 300 + 600 (0.9) = 840 psi
If St = 1000 psi then the opening pressure becomes 1166.67 psi and the closing pressure 1200 psi. The spread in the
first instance is 73.33 psi and in the second, 33.3 psi. By observing Eq. (3) we note that the first term may be made
to approach the second, that is, the spread may be minimized by (a) increasing St, (b) decreasing pd, (c) decreasing
pc, and (d) increasing R.
The opening pressure of the valve may be set in the test rack by converting Eq. (1) to test conditions. For example, if
the casing pressure is atmospheric and the bellows pressure is confined under 60F temperature conditions, we have:

Part (b)
We note initially that there will be no flow through the valve below the tubing closing pressure of 300 psi and, as the
tubing pressure approaches the casing pressure, the flow rate will go to zero again. We can plot these two points on
our curve. As the tubing pressure increases above pt the flow rate increases linearly given by:
Q = 0.7 (ptf - 300)
Thus we may plot the known data:
ptf (psi) Q (MCFD)
300 0
400 70
500 140
600 210
700 280
800 350
900 420
1000 0
The straight line relationship would give us a value of 490 MCFD at 1000 psi, but we know that as the tubing and
closing pressures become equal Q must go to 0. Graphically, then, we must turn the curve downward at about 900
psi. The actual curve for a given valve is normally determined under dynamic flow tests in the laboratory. If the trim
is increased so that it has a value of 2.1 then the flow rate at a given pressure increases as is shown in Figure 1 .

Figure 1

Note that this curve must turn downward at a lower tubing pressure than the first.

5: The flow rate through a throttling valve and thus its performance depends upon the flowing tubing pressure, the
tubing pressure at which the valve opens, the trim of the valve, and the casing pressure. The performance equation
for a given throttling valve is:
Q = M (ptf - pt)
Q = Gas flow rate, MCF/D
M = trim coefficient
ptf = flowing tubing pressure, psia
pt = tubing pressure at which valve closes, psia
If pt = 300 psi, M = 0.7 and the casing pressure is 1000 psi, plot the pressure-flow rate performance curve for the
valve. What happens if M is increased to a value of 2.1?

ANS: (a) Closed system with flow up the tubing: Figure 1

(b) Annular flow: Figure 2

Figure 1

(c) Chamber lift:

Figure 3

Figure 2

6: Draw the subsurface design for:

a. a closed system with flow up the tubing
b. annular flow system
c. chamber gas lift installations

ANS: Although trouble free dual completions are difficult to design, it is possible to do so. Our options here
seem to be either concentric or parallel string design. (Note that our scale has been exaggerated to show detail.)
Figure 1


Pressure Traverse Curves with and without Gas Lift
In continuous gas lift systems, high pressure gas is injected into the produced fluid stream to reduce the density and
flow resistance of the ascending fluid column. The design objective is to control the vertical fluid gradient so as to
give the desired production rate. The design is constrained by the limitations of gas injection pressure, available gas
volumes, the nature of the produced fluids, the well's inflow performance and the tubing size.
We begin with the familiar plot of depth versus pressure ( Figure 1 ).

Figure 1

In this case, the surface is located at the top and the midpoint of the perforations is shown at the bottom of the
vertical scale. Pressure is shown on the horizontal scale. For the conditions of our reservoir at this point in time, we
plot the average reservoir pressure, PR, at the depth of the perforations. For a desired inflow performance rate, say
500 BOPD, and a known productivity index, we can calculate the bottomhole flowing pressure, pwf. This is also
plotted at the depth of the perforations. We now find the appropriate pressure traverse curve, for this flow rate, gasliquid ratio, and tubing size. We draw it in beginning at pwf. In this case we have assumed a GLR of zero (0) for
illustration purposes only. We note that the pressure goes to zero at a point below the surface ( Figure 2 ). This
means that the well will not flow naturally at this rate and is thus a suitable candidate for gas lift.

Figure 2

In designing a gas lift system, we must first know or calculate the flowing tubing pressure required at the surface in
order for the produced fluids to flow through the surface equivalent at the desired flow rate. In most cases, it will be
in the range of 50 to 100 psi. We shall assume it to be 100 psi.
The second variable that must be specified is the rate at which gas is to be injected into a well, in this case, one
which we expect to produce at the rate of 500 B0PD. For a given production rate, the rate of injection of gas lift gas
will determine the GLR.
If we inject a low volume of gas, giving us, for example, a GLR of 100 above the point of injection, then, from our
published curves, we obtain the pressure traverse curve shown in Figure 3 .

Figure 3

This gives a higher production rate at the same tubing pressure of 100 psi., without changing the rate. if, however,
we inject gas at a higher rate giving us, say, a GLR of 500 above the point of injection, then we will obtain the
pressure traverse curve shown in Figure 4 for a GLR of 500.

Figure 4

if even more gas is available for injection, say, a quantity that will give a GLR above the point of injection of 1,000,
then we will have the third pressure traverse curve shown in Figure 5.

Figure 5.

The point at which gas must be injected to ensure that effective gas lift will occur is determined by the intersection
of the produced fluid gradient and each of the gas lift gradients ( Figure 6 ).

Figure 6

The point of injection then, for a given production rate, will be different for each GLR value. The GLR is calculated
by considering both the gas in the produced fluids plus the gas lift gas. We have assumed the GLR of the produced
fluids to be zero; however, in most cases, this will not be the case and the calculations must be modified accordingly.
There are several conclusions that we may draw from Figures 1-6. First, if we join the pressure traverse curve for the
wellbore fluids with any of the pressure traverse curves above the points of gas injection, we will maintain both the
flowing bottomhole pressure needed for a production rate of 500 B0PD and the surface pressure of 100 psi required
to move fluids through the surface operating equipment.
The second conclusion to be made is that, for a continuous gas lift system, operating at a low GLR will require that
gas be injected at a high pressure and considerable depth. Alternatively, a continuous gas lift design allowing for a
high GLR will require that gas be injected at a lower pressure and at a shallower depth. Which of these do you think
is preferred? We shall discuss the answer shortly.
From these observations we conclude that, in continuous gas lift operations, it is important that the operating valve
be properly located and receive sufficient gas volume at the appropriate pressure so that it will operate under design

Pressure Gradient in Annulus

We turn now to the pressure gradient in our annulus during gas injection. Let us assume that we selected a GLR of
500 for our gas lift operation. We see in Figure 7 the depth and pressure at which gas must be injected in order to
maintain the production rate of 500 BOPD.

Figure 7

We usually allow for a 100 psi pressure drop across the valve because of flow losses. The casing pressure at the
point of injection into the valve, then, is equal to the tubing pressure required at the point of injection, plus an
additional 100 psi. This defines the pressure in the annulus at the operating valve. The pressure gradient in the
annulus from this point upward, assuming static conditions, is obtained by using the correlations shown in the
following equation:

pws = static bottomhole pressure, psia
pts = static wellhead pressure, psia
G = gas gravity (air = 1)
H = well depth, ft
= arithmetic average temperature R
= compressibility factor at average temperature and pressure.
Note that pws is obtained in a trial and error calculation. A value of pws is first assumed and, with it, a value of z at
an arithmetic average pressure is found. With this value of z, a new value of pws is calculated. A new value of z with
this value of pws is then found and the calculation is repeated until a consistent answer is obtained.

Assuming G=0.7, z=0.9 and T=600R, Eq. 1.1 has a simple approzimation, first introduced by Gilbert in 1954. This

is the result of a Taylor Series expansion and it is

With this information for our system we may draw the gas gradient curve in the annulus from this point to the
surface ( Figure 8 ). This determines the minimum operating surface casing pressure needed to operate our
continuous gas lift system under design conditions.

Figure 8

Gas Volume Required for Gas Lift

The volume of gas needed for gas lift operations must satisfy the required GLR at our target production rate. With a
GLR of 500 required for our production rate of 500 B0PD we must inject gas at the rate of:

Rate of Gas Injection =


= 250 MCFD


Note that this calculation assumes a negligible GLR for the reservoir fluids. If this is not true the calculations should
be modified to include the producing GLR.
The gas lift valve, located at the point of injection, must have an orifice size sufficient to pass the required gas
volume at a casing-tubing pressure difference of 100 psi. But what happens if the flow rate, instead of being 500
B0PD, drops to 250 BOPD? A fixed size orifice valve, assuming critical flow conditions, will allow the same
amount of gas to pass for both flow rates and, therefore, our GLR will be too high. We would be producing the fluid
inefficiently. Alternatively, the production rate may increase from 500 to, say, 750 BOPD. In this case, a fixed size
orifice valve will not deliver enough gas to the fluids. Where variable production rates are possible, we need a valve
which will respond to the changing production rates and will deliver sufficient gas to give a constant GLR. We
should define the desired operating characteristics for a valve which will satisfy the above conditions.
We see in Figure 9 the pressure profile for the 500 B0PD case.

Figure 9

If the production rate drops to 250 B0PD, then the pressure required at the point of injection to maintain this flow
rate will be lower; and at 750 B0PD, the pressure required at this point will be higher than that for 500 B0PD. With
this data, we may prepare a parallel plot of required gas injection rate versus tubing pressures ( Figure 10 ).

Figure 10

Using Eq. 1.2, we calculate the required injection rate for 500 B0PD to be 250 MCFD; for 250 BOPD, the volume is
125 MCFD, and for 750 B0PD, the required volume is 375 MCFD. By joining these three points, we specify the
desired performance characteristics of our valve. it looks very much like the throttling valve performance
characteristics which we mentioned in Unit 2. In fact, that would be an ideal valve to use. If we draw in the total
performance curve ( Figure 11 ), we see that the maximum point on this curve defines the casing pressure required
to operate the valve.

Figure 11

This pressure is about 100 psi greater than the pressure in the tubing at the maximum gas injection rate. Note also
that the flow rate is at a maximum where the pressure difference between the casing and tubing is small.
We see, then, that a throttling valve is one which will allow for a proportional response to flow rate. This is
especially important because we know that the inflow performance of our well will change with time. If we use this
type of valve, it should be performance-tested dynamically before installation, so that we are sure that actual flow
rates that you wish to have at the various casing and tubing pressures will actually occur. The flow testing of valves
is often done in the manufacturer's shop under simulated operating conditions. The throttling valve, of course, has
certain disadvantages:

Sometimes a design with throttling valves requires an additional valve to reach the desired lift

Pressure adjustments are more difficult than with some other types of gas lift valves
Since more information must be considered, throttling valve designs are more technically
detailed and thus require more accuracy
We need to consider several additional variables which control the design of a continuous gas lift installation
the well's inflow performance, now and in the future

the flowing tubing pressure at the surface

the pressure and available volume of injected gas

the location and design of the operating valve, and

the wellbore hardware
Calculating Inflow Performance
We know how to calculate the IPR. Once we select a production rate, we then use the well's IPR curve to find the
bottomhole flowing pressure, pwf. If the IPR is not available, but the productivity index is known, then it is used to
calculate pwf for a known value of and the desired production rate, q. We remember that as the average reservoir
pressure decreases so will the bottomhole pressure required for a given flow rate. This effect must be included in our
design. Likewise, we must be able to adjust to changes in produced fluids, that is, changes in GLR or watercut. If the
extent of these changes can be determined, we must include them in our design. If not, then we may adjust for
possible changes in the valve design or rely on subsequent wireline operations to modify valve setting and

Flowing Tubing Pressure at the Surface

The flowing tubing pressure at the surface may be calculated by starting from the known separator pressure and
calculating the pressure losses that occur in the gathering lines at the surface. Brown (1980) and others have
published a series of horizontal flowing pressure gradient correlations similar to the vertical pressure profile curves
which may be used for this purpose.
In general we may state that higher producing GLR's will require higher wellhead pressures in order to support a
fixed production rate and separator pressure. A gas lift design with a lower GLR, then, will allow for a lower flowing
wellhead pressure.

Satisfying Required Volume and Pressure of Injected Gas

The next control variables on our list are the required volume and pressure of the injected gas. The gas for injection
will probably come from field production operations, usually from the high pressure separator. Additional volumes
may be available from local gathering systems or pipelines. The engineer will make an inventory of volumes
available for gas lift operations now and in the future before beginning the design.
The required gas pressure will be provided by the pressure of the high pressure separator, other gas sources and
supplemented, as needed, by compression.
The fundamental questions, then, are how much gas is needed for an efficient design, and, at what pressure? The
answers depend on the gas lift design, including the expected production rate, gas lift GLR, and the depth of the
operating valve.

Location and Design of the Operating Valve

We should now follow up on a point we made earlier: lower compression horsepower will be required if we inject
gas lift gas at a high pressure and low rate. Conversely, greater compression horsepower will be required if we inject
gas at a low pressure and high rate. This leads us directly to the selection of the location of the operating valve.
The operating valve can be located at any of three locations, depending on the gas lift GLR. A gas lift design
operating at the lowest GLR, in this case, 100, requires a higher operating pressure. We now know that this
condition will require the lowest compression horsepower. We conclude, then, that by selecting the lowest operating
GLR curve, our design will require the lowest horsepower and the lowest gas volumes for a given production rate.
If the available gas volumes or injection pressure are constrained, then that limitation should be included in the
design. If we have unlimited gas volume and compressor horsepower, then, except for economics, the above design
recommendations should be followed.
The design of the operating valve will depend on the type of operation and any anticipated fluctuation in flow rate,
producing GLR and water cut. A throttling valve may be selected to provide a constant GLR where there are varying

production rates. The fact that the valve may be adjusted using wireline operations allows us to modify our design
for changing conditions.

Selection of Tubular Goods

The last variable to be considered in our design is the selection of tubular goods. We now know that we should select
the tubular goods which give the lowest operating GLR for our target production rate. This will minimize the
horsepower requirements, the volume of injected gas, and the surface operating pressure.
When considering tubular goods, we must remember that we may produce fluid through either the tubing or the
annulus. The difference in performance is shown in Figure 12 .

Figure 12

It is a pressure-rate curve for a specific well. The gas lift GLR is fixed at 400, the flowing tubing pressure is fixed at
250 psi, and the well's IPR has been calculated. The performance of four different tubular goods installations are
considered: tubular flow through 2-inch and 2 1/2-inch tubing, and annular flow through 2 x 4 1/2-inch and 2 1/2 x 5
1/2-inch tubing-casing diameters. For each curve, we see that a higher flow rate requires a higher bottomhole
Because the performance curves shift to the right as the cross sectional area available for flow increases, we see that
for a given bottomhole pressure, the flow rate will increase significantly as we increase the size of our wellbore
hardware. For a specific set of tubular goods, then, the cross section of its performance curve and the IPR curve
specifies the maximum production rate for the given GLR and surface tubing pressure. (If our desired production
rate is lower than this value, then we may use smaller tubular goods with a performance curve that intersects the IPR
curve at a higher pwf.) We conclude, then, that for high production rates, our gas lift operations will probably
require annular flow.

Unloading Design for Gas Lift Wells

Now that we understand the design variables that control continuous gas lift, we should turn to the design of well
unloading or "kick-off".
We unload a well when the fluid level has reached a static Point below the surface or where fluids have been added
to the well in order to kill it Prior to workover operations. When we are ready to Produce the well again, say, with
continuous gas lift, we must first lift the static fluid column, that is, kick-off the well. We must incorporate
unloading operations into a gas lift design.
Several assumptions about the static fluid column or kill fluid (usually salt water) and the manner in which it will be
unloaded are inherent in the design. First, we assume that the static fluid level may reach as high as the surface are
inherent in the design. Even though the reservoir pressure allows for a lower fluid level, the assumption that a full
well must be unloaded provides a built-in safety factor. We assume also that the density of the well fluids is a little
heavier than fresh water. More specifically, we assume that the fluids have a static or unloading pressure gradient of
0.45 psi per foot. if the density of the kill fluid is known and is significantly different from this value, an appropriate
change should be made.
Next, we consider how the fluids are to be unloaded. With a continuous gas lift installation, we use the available gas
volume and pressure intended for continuous operation. All we need are additional valves in the tubing to unload the
There are a number of computer-aided design procedures available. Most of them are based on supplying sufficient
pressure at successively lower valves to cause the kill fluids to be U-tubed to the surface through each valve in a
sequence. We shall consider one such design, employing graphical methods for illustration purposes.
We begin with the pressure traverse and injection pressure curves which are 500 BOPD and 500 GLR. (31) obtained
from our continuous gas lift design. in our example, we shall use the curves for the 500 BOPD flow rate and a GLR
of 500, reproduced in Figure 1 .

Figure 1

We remember that the casing pressure is 100 psi greater than that needed in the tubing. This allows for an adequate
pressure drop across the valve. The operating valve, as we mentioned earlier, is located at the intersection of the two
pressure traverse lines.
We select as our gas design pressure, the available gas line pressure minus 100 psi, and draw it in as shown in Figure

Figure 2

This represents the gas pressure available on the tubing side of a gas lift valve. it also represents the pressure
available for unloading the well at any valve.
For design safety and to minimize valve interference, we usually select a surface design pressure that is 200 psi
above the flowing wellhead pressure. This gives us a surface design pressure of 300 psi. We now join the 300 psi
pressure point with the operating valve pressure at the depth of the operating valve. This gives us the design gradient
( Figure 3 ).

Figure 3

We now locate our unloading valves graphically. Starting at the surface and a pressure of 300 psi, we draw a line
toward the gas operating pressure with a slope equal to 0.45 psi per foot, the gradient of our kill fluid. Often, for
locating the first valve, we extend the line to the full gas operating pressure as shown in Figure 4 .

Figure 4

This defines the depth and pressure of valve 1. Sufficient gas pressure will be available at this depth to unload (Utube) the fluids above this point.
The second valve is located by drawing a horizontal line at the first valve depth back to the design gradient line,
then, downward, using a 0.45 psi per foot gradient, to the gas design pressure line.
This graphical procedure continues in the same manner until all the unloading valves, down to the operating valve,
have been located. As seen in Figure 5 , we will need four valves to unload the well and the operating valve to
provide continuous gas lift operations.

Figure 5

As we mentioned earlier, there are a number of design options for locating the unloading valves. This is especially
true when we consider the available selection of valves and the ability to specify the valve opening and closing
pressures. Often, for example, a lower valve will be opened before an upper valve is closed so as to provide for
smoother unloading operation.

Summary of Procedures to Follow in Designing a Continuous Gas Lift

Let us now summarize the procedures to be followed for a continuous gas lift design.
1. Collect all available wellbore and fluid data.
2. Determine the IPR or PI of the well. With this data and the desired production rate for the well we plot
the average reservoir pressure and flowing bottomhole pressure on a pressure depth curve ( Figure 1 ).

Figure 1

3. For known or assumed production conditions, that is, flow rate, production GLR, and water cut, we plot
the pressure traverse curve for several producing GLRs, and a variety of tubular goods ( Figure 2 ). This
could include both tubing and annular flow. One such traverse curve is shown in Figure 2 .

Figure 2

4. With the given production rate and an assumed set of increasing gas lift GLRs, we calculate the surface
flowing pressure needed to satisfy the operating separator pressure. The required surface pressure assumed
in this design is 100 psi, but we know that it will differ somewhat for each different GLR, higher for higher
values of GLR.
5. For the selected tubular goods and flow system, that is, tubing or annular flow, we draw pressure traverse
curves for various values of gas lift GLR. The intersection of these curves with the natural flow pressure
traverse defines several possible locations for the operating valves ( Figure 3 ). We now select one
operating GLR.

Figure 3

We remember that the lowest GLR requires the highest operating pressure, the lowest injected gas volume
and lowest compression horsepower. We would normally select this option. in our example we have
selected the 500 GLR curve because we are constrained by a limiting surface gas pressure.
6. We can now draw in our casing pressure curve. We begin with a gas pressure at the operating valve depth
equal to 100 psi greater than the required tubing pressure at this depth. From this point, using Equation 1.1
or suitable correlations to provide us the gas gradient in a static gas column we draw a line joining the gas
pressure at the operating valve depth to the surface. This yields the minimum required gas injection
pressure at the surface ( Figure 4 ).

Figure 4

7. To complete the design, we must locate our unloading valves. To do this, we draw in the gas design
pressure line which is 100 psi less than the casing pressure, and our design gradient line which has a
surface pressure 200 psi greater than the required surface flowing pressure ( Figure 5 ).

Figure 5

8. With these lines we begin at the surface and draw a series of lines downward, with an unloading fluid
gradient equal to 0.45 psi/ft, to locate the unloading valves. We remember that we may extend the first line
as far as the casing operating pressure to locate the first valve ( Figure 6 ).

Figure 6

9. Now we turn to the manufacturers catalogs to select the unloading and operating valves which will
satisfy our design over the life of the well. The values are set to meet the required operating conditions.
10. Before completing our system design, we must be sure that there is sufficient gas volume and pressure
to meet operating conditions and, finally, that we are able to modify the design as inflow performance
characteristics change.
The engineer realizes that the design is not a static one. The inflow performance, producing GLR and, perhaps,
water cut of the well will change as production from the well continues. In addition he often designs for a total field
rather than a single well. In essence, he must have one eye on the future and the other on developing an optimal field
design. The third eye is focused on the individual wells which collectively make up the system.

Design of Intermittent Gas Lift Installations

We continue our design of gas lift installations by turning to intermittent flow systems. You will remember that
during intermittent gas lift, liquid is allowed to accumulate in the tubing above the gas lift valve. On a cyclic basis,
the liquid is lifted to the surface in a "slug" or piston form by the injection of high pressure gas below the slug. The
injected gas expands and displaces the slug to the surface. Intermittent gas lift operation, then, is a cyclic operation
and the cycle can be divided into three periods: The lift period, the inflow period, and the pressure reduction period (
Figure 1 ).

Figure 1

The inflow period occurs when fluid flows from the formation into the wellbore and collects in the tubing above the
gas lift valve.
The lift period begins when a sufficient volume of liquid has accumulated and gas is injected through the operating
valve to lift the slug to the surface.
The pressure reduction period begins after the gas slug reaches the surface and the gas lift valve closes. During this
period the lift gas pressure is dissipated, allowing the inflow period to begin again.
A plot of the pressure at the operating valve versus time is shown in Figure 1 . In this case the inflow period builds
the pressure to about 550 psi. Gas is then injected and the liquid slug is displaced to the surface. The pressure
reaches a maximum value of 750 psi and then decreases slightly during the slug movement. The lift period lasts for
about eight minutes. The valve then closes, the pressure reduction period begins and continues until the pressure
drops below 300 psi. As the pressure falls, inflow from the formation begins again. The time between lifts for this
system is about 38 minutes.
We see, then, that the intermittent cycle is controlled by regulating the frequency or injection, the gas flow rate
during injection, and the total quantity or gas injected during each lift period. Maximum production from
intermittent lift will occur when each period or the lift cycle is optimized. Our design, then, should be one that gives
maximum liquid recovery with an economical volume or injected gas.

Estimating the Production Capability of an Intermittent Gas Lift Well

The production capability or an intermittent gas lift system depends on three factors:

the starting load,

the efficiency or the lift, and
the number or cycles per day
We shall discuss each in order.
The starting load reflects the pressure at the operating valve just as the valve opens. It represents the pressure
imposed at the operating valve by the buildup of liquid in the tubing above it.
Field operations indicate that a starting load or 65 to 75 percent or the gas pressure in the annulus at the operating
valve results in a slug velocity in the optimum recovery range. This corresponds to a gas pressure of 1.3 - 1.5 times
greater than the pressure in the tubing as the valve opens and displacement begins. It has been shown that this
pressure difference will provide slug velocities or 900 to 1200 feed/minute which are needed for optimum recovery.
For normal design situations, the 65 percent starting load factor is used, that is, the liquid is allowed to build up in
the tubing until the tubing pressure is equal to 65 percent or the available casing pressure. The excess casing
pressure provides the slug velocity. The upper limit or the design range, that is, 75 percent, is used when there is a
high surface tubing pressure or a high gas delivery rate into the tubing.
We may calculate the volume of liquid in the tubing with this starting load as follows:

p = the pressure imposed by the fluid in the tubing above the valve. It is equal to the bottomhole tubing pressure,
pt, minus the surface tubing pressure, pts,
h = height of rise or liquid in the tubing. Ignoring the gas column in the tubing, it is equal to p divided by the
pressure gradient of the produced liquid, Gs, in consistent units,
Ftb = tubing volume factor, volume / unit of length,
Be = the liquid influx volume/cycle. Be, then, represents the volume of liquid in the tubing available for lift during
each cycle.
The next consideration is whether this liquid inflow into the tubing is totally lifted during a cycle and, if not, what
level of efficiency exists.
We know that as a slug of liquid moves up the tubing during lift, some of the liquid adheres to the tubing walls and
some becomes entrained as droplets in the gas phase. The lost liquid is referred to as holdup.
Field tests have shown that a holdup of 5 - 7 percent of the starting load per 1000 feet of lift will exist when the
starting load is within the recommended 65-75 Percent. These are the conditions when the slug velocity is at an
optimum and holdup will be low.
For an assumed loss of 5 percent per 1000 feet of vertical lift, the efficiency of lift, E, will be equal to:

E = efficiency of lift, percent
Dv = depth to the gas lift valve, feet.
If, for example, the gas lift valve is at a depth of 4000 feet, the efficiency of lift will be:

With this information, we may calculate Bt, the liquid produced per cycle.

. (1.4)
We should produce, then, 80 percent of our starting load.
We now know how to calculate the volume of liquid produced per cycle. What remains, then, is to calculate the
number of cycles possible per day. This number depends on the depth of lift as well as the length of time required
for the pressure reduction and inflow periods. The cycle time is usually adjusted in the field under actual operating
conditions but initial estimates may be made. As a practical matter, we may assume that the minimum time per cycle
is in the range of 1.5 - 3.0 minutes per 1000 feet of lift.
If the minimum time per cycle were 3 minutes per 1000 feet of depth, for example, the maximum number of cycles
per day, Nc, would be approximately equal to:

Nc = cycles / day
1440 = minutes / day.
(Note that if the minimum cycle time was, say, 1.5 minutes per 1000 feet, Nc would be 240 cycles/day.)
For an operating valve located at a depth of 4000 feet and this minimum cycle time factor of 3 minutes per 1000 feet
of depth, then the maximum number of cycles per day is:

The daily production, then, is obtained by multiplying Nc by Bt. When the intermittent system is installed in the
field you may find from experience that the ideal number of cycles per day is less than this maximum. This estimate
provides a good starting point. It is through field testing that the appropriate cycle control is ultimately set.
We now have a procedure for designing our intermitting lift system, or, at least, a means to calculate the systems
maximum production capability. The procedure requires that we start with the known wellbore and fluid data and
calculate the liquid inflow, volume per lift cycle, Be, using a 65 percent load factor; then, we calculate the lift
efficiency, E; next, the maximum number or cycles per day, Nc; and then the maximum daily production rate, q. We
see that q will equal:

Sample Problem: We shall apply this procedure to estimate the production capability of a well. We are told that the
depth of the operating valve is 8000 feet; the tubing size is 2 3/8-inches OD, the surface tubing pressure is 100 psi,
the surface operating gas pressure is 800 psi, the gas gravity is 0.65, and the oil gradient is 0.40 psi per foot. We
wish to calculate the maximum daily production rate of the well under intermittent gas lift operations.
To obtain a solution, we follow the procedures just described. First, we calculate the liquid inflow per cycle. To do
this, we must calculate the gas pressure in the annul us opposite the operating valve, with a known surface pressure
of 800 psi, and an estimated gas gradient of 0.02125 psi/ft. We find the gas pressure at the operating valve to be:
pc = 800 + 0.02125 (8000) = 970 psi.
Using a 65 percent load factor, we find _p:
p = pt - pts
pt = 0.65 pc = 0.65 (970) = 630 psi
p = 630 - 100 = 530 psi.
With this pressure, our produced liquid should rise in the tubing a total of:

This is equivalent to a liquid inflow volume of:

Ftb = 0.0038 bbl/ft (from tables or calculations)
Be = hFtb

= (1325) (0.0038) = 5.03 bbls.

Next, we calculate the lift efficiency. For a depth of 8000 feet and an assumed S percent loss per 1000 ft., we
calculate it to be:

With a 60 percent lift efficiency, we find the liquid production per cycle to be:
Bt = 0.60 (5.03) = 3.02 bbls/cycle.
Next, we calculate the maximum number of cycles possible per day. For a gas lift operating valve located at a depth
of 8000 feet, we find it to be equal to:

We complete our calculations by combining the production per cycle and the maximum number of cycles per day to
give us a maximum production rate of:
q = NcBt = (60) (3.02) = 180 BOPD.
If our inflow performance calculations indicate that the well will sustain this rate, it is very likely a good design.
Some field adjustment, though, will very likely be required.

Valve Selection
Now that we have learned the procedure for calculating production rates, we
must complete our intermittent gas lift design. To do this, we must select the appropriate operating valve, estimate
the injection gas requirements per cycle, discuss gas flow control at the surface, and make sure that we are able to
unload the well. We begin with valve selection.
The primary requirement of an operating valve used in intermittent lift is that it is able to handle a large volume of
gas in a short period of time. From our earlier discussion on valves, you will agree that this is an ideal application
for the pilot-operated valve. Its large port allows a large volume of gas to pass once the valve is opened. A properly
designed dome-charged valve may also be used. In some cases, a fluid-operated valve may be selected, however,
because its port is small, it will require a series of operating valves, opening in succession to propel the slug up the

Calculating Required Gas Volumes

Next, we should consider the volume or gas required during an intermittent cycle. Two-phase slug flow is a complex
phenomenon and it is difficult to calculate the exact gas volumes required. for estimating purposes, we may assume
that the volume required is equal to the volume or gas left in the tubing just as the slug reaches the surface. We may
also assume that the gas in the tubing is at a pressure equal to the average or the two values or tubing pressure when
the valve opens and closes.
The basic gas volume required per cycle is equal to:

pt = the pressure at the operating valve;
pvc = the pressure just as the valve closes;
Vt = the volume of tubing not occupied by liquid, and;
pa = atmosphere pressure (used to convert gas volume in the tubing to standard conditions).
We have not included the effects of temperature and compressibility because our estimate is approximate.
We may apply this equation to our example. We know that the valve opening pressure is 970 psi and we are told that
its closing pressure is 725 psi. The tubing length is 8000 feet and we have calculated that the liquid fills 1325 feet of
it. The 2 3/8-inch tubing contains 0.0217 cubic feet per foot of length. The tubing gas volume, then, is:
Vt = (8000 - 1325) (0.0217) = 144.8 cu. ft.
When we convert this to the number of standard cubic feet contained in the tubing at the average pressure, we find a
value of:

This is the volume of gas required per cycle. We must conserve and reuse the lift gas in subsequent cycles to create
an efficient production operation.

Surface Control of Injected Gas

We now turn to the control of intermittent gas lift operations. Control of the gas passing from the casing to the
tubing is provided by the gas lift valve. This control is complemented by several types of surface controllers. These
may be provided by time cycle control or choke control. With time cycle control, a clock drives a pilot which opens
and closes a diaphragm-actuated valve on the gas supply line ( Figure 1 ). The pilot can be adjusted to open and
close for specific periods of time.

Figure 1

The choke control method relies on the inflow performance of the well and the gas lift valve operating spread
characteristics to control the cycle. The surface control consists of an adjustable choke or flow control valve on the
gas supply line ( Figure 2 ). The choke is adjusted to admit gas continuously into the annulus so that its pressure
builds at a steady rate.

Figure 2

When the pressure reaches a high enough level, the gas lift valve opens and the slug is displaced. The choke must be
set, then, to admit gas at a rate compatible with the wells inflow capacity. An efficient cycle frequency is then
established. A very important feature of choke control is that it eliminates the cyclical injection surges from the
compressor. In effect, the choke isolates the cyclic surges to the casing annulus. The compressor operates more
evenly and the gas circulated to the well can thus be measured more accurately.
This difference in opening and closing pressures of the gas lift valve is, as we mentioned earlier, the spread of the
valve. It is this feature of choke control that allows us to store, in the casing annulus, the volume of gas needed for
each intermittent lift cycle. The gas lift valve "spread" makes a storage chamber of the casing annulus.
We have mentioned a number or aspects of intermittent gas lift but our discussion has not been exhaustive. We have
not considered, for example, the procedure to be followed in locating the unloading valves. Because the intermittent
gas lift design is similar to that for continuous lift in that the liquids are U-tubed to the surface from one valve to the
next, the procedure for locating unloading valves discussed earlier for a continuous lift system are generally
applicable to intermittent lift. The one significant difference for intermittent flow is that we must define a pressure
gradient in the tubing string for conditions where the kill fluids are being unloaded as slugs. Under these conditions
the pressure gradient in the tubing is caused primarily by frictional losses which are a function of the velocity of
flow and tubing size. Empirical correlations of the "design gradient," indicate that these design gradients are in the
range of 0.02 to 0.35 psi/ft. We use the appropriate gradient from these correlations to draw the "design gradient" on
the pressure-depth chart. The unloading values are then found.
We have also not discussed the option of using multipoint as opposed to single point gas injection. Some
controversy exists as to whether the use of multiple valves for gas injection can be successively applied to
intermittent lift. Because it and such other installations as chamber lift do not have widespread application we shall
refer you to Brown (1980) for a more detailed discussion.

Some Practical Aspects of Unloading and Operation

We should now say a few words about the practical aspects of gas lift operation. After gas lift valves have been
installed in our well, the first operation is to unload the fluids. Our objective is to unload the well without excessive
pressure, so that a final, stabilized production rate can be easily obtained. The well may be unloaded either
intermittently or continuously. It is normal for a well placed on continuous gas lift to be unloaded continuously, and
for a well placed on intermittent gas lift to be unloaded intermittently.
Let us first consider continuous gas lift. Our first step is to inject gas slowly into the annulus, probably through a
choke, located at the surface. Pressure is increased approximately 100 psi every 10 minutes. Immediately the kill
fluid will be produced through the tubing. It is common practice to unload the well into a pit onshore or a tanker
offshore until gas starts coming around the first valve or until oil appears in the produced fluid. A steady stream of
fluid will be unloading. If these fluids are turned into a separator, remember to keep the backpressure on the well as
low as possible. As gas is continuously injected into the annulus, a gradual increase in casing pressure is required to
keep fluids flowing from the tubing string.
Valve 1, the uppermost valve, will eventually be uncovered, and gas then enters the tubing string. This is noted at the
surface by a immediate increase in the velocity of the stream of fluid coming out of the tubing string. A mixture of
gas and liquid will soon be produced at the surface, and the casing pressure will level off at the surface operating
pressure of valve No. 1. As gas continues to enter the annulus, the liquid column in the annulus is lowered until
valve No. 2 is uncovered. As soon as this valve is uncovered, gas will flow through it and enter the tubing. Casing
pressure will drop to the surface operating pressure of this valve. At about the same time, pressure in the annulus
opposite valve No. 1 should have been reduced to a low enough level to cause the valve to close.
Unloading continues from valve to valve until the bottom operating valve is uncovered. At this point the bottomhole
pressure has been reduced to a level where the formation is able to produce into the tubing, and where the gas
injected through the operating valve is sufficient to lift the production under design conditions.
The unloading process for an intermittent gas lift well is, in principle, very similar to a continuous flow unloading
process. The only significant difference is that the fluid load is unloaded at the surface in the form of piston-like
slugs of liquid. The procedure for intermittent flow is the same as that for continuous flow until valve No. 1 is
uncovered. At this point, the well is placed on intermittent control for unloading. This is accomplished with a choke
or a time cycle controller at the surface so that the well is alternately produced and shut-in. During this period, the
liquids in the annular space will continue to be U-tubed into the tubing and produced as slugs. A good cycle for
unloading is obtained with two to four minutes of gas injection every 20 to 30 minutes. This allows ample time for
stabilization to take place between slugs.
Once the desired operating valve is reached, the choke size or cycle time is adjusted to suit the wells production
characteristics. Thus, for example, you may start operation with a rather large number of cycles per day and then, in
response to the wells production behavior, begin to reduce them in order to reach an optimal condition. When the
liquid production rate begins to fall off, you have just passed the optimal number of cycles per day. With this
information, it is possible to make further refinements to the process by reducing the duration of gas injection during
each cycle. The ultimate objective is to maximize production and minimize gas volume required. A very useful
monitoring procedure involves the simultaneous recording of the shapes of the tubing and casing pressures.
Adjustments are made on the basis of the shapes of these two curves.

Surface Facilities Design

We should now look at the surface facilities that might be needed for a typical gas lift installation. There are a
number of pieces of data that must be collected before we begin the design of our surface system. These include the
number and location of wells to be gas lifted, the gas lift valve design for each well, whether we are to have
continuous or intermittent injection, the gas volumes needed with estimates of peak demand, the availability of gas
supply from the separator or external supply, the location of sales gas lines, the required pressure at the point of
injection into our well, the pressure of the separator or supply gas, the sizing of the compressor and, finally, the
auxiliary control and metering system required for our surface system.
In essence, we have a surface system beginning with production at the wellhead and ending with the injection of gas
into the casing annulus or tubing ( Figure 1 ).

Figure 1

Beginning at the wellhead we see that the production travels first to the separator where the liquids and gas are
separated. The separator gas is usually reused as gas lift gas. If there is more gas being produced than is needed, the
excess gas is either sold or injected into the formation. Moving downstream we see that there is a point where
outside supply may be added to our system in the event that the gas from the separator is insufficient to meet the
demand. Both the separator gas and the outside makeup gas then flow through a scrubber, where impurities are
removed, and continue to the compressor, where the pressure of the gas is increased to desired levels. The
compressor must be chosen to provide the appropriate discharge pressure and volume needed at both average and
peak rates. Some of the gas reaching the compressor is normally used as fuel. Downstream of the compressor, gas is
metered and various controls are introduced before the gas is injected into the annulus. In the case of continuous
injection, the control is normally a choke in series with a pressure regulator. For intermittent gas injection, a time
cycle controller, or choke, are the most common forms of control.
We see, then, that the surface system consists of a number of individual components, each of which must be
designed to provide the quantities and peak demands of gas for the gas lift system at the desired injection pressures.
Our intuition tells us that the most ideal gas lift system, especially with respect to the compressor operation, is one
where we have a constant suction pressure and constant discharge pressure on our compressor. This is easy to
achieve in continuous flow operations, because of the continuous supply of gas available from the separator and
because of the continuous need to inject gas. For intermittent systems, the problem becomes more complicated. Now
we have intermittent injection and intermittent production and the duration of each is different for each well. Control
is a little more difficult for time cycle control than for choke control because the latter has the advantage that the
annul us serves as a storage chamber between lift cycles.

Calculating Compression Horsepower

We should now see how compression horsepower is calculated. We know that compressors are available in many
different sizes and descriptions to fit the needs of both gas lift operations and oil field operations in general.
An equation for approximating brake horsepower for a compressor is given by:
bhp = (l.05)R (23) nQ
R = absolute compression ratio per stage. It should not exceed 4.
= (R)l/n,
R = overall absolute compression ratio,
n = number of stages,


1.05 = factor used to correct for pressure drop and gas cooling between stages (becomes 1.0 for single stage
23 = constant that yields units of BHP/ MMCFD/stage,
Q = desired throughput capacity, MMCFD.
Sample Problem:
Let us apply this equation to an example. We are told that the discharge pressure for a compressor is 200 psi and the
suction pressure is 50 psi. There are to be two stages of compression, and the desired throughput is 2.5 MMCFD.
We substitute this information into Eq. 1.7 as follows:

bhp = (l.05)(2)(23)(2)(2.5) = 241.5 hp.

We would probably order a 250 hp unit.
If only a single stage of compression is desired, we would have:

bhp = (1.00)(4)(23)(l)(2.5) = 230 hp.

In these two cases, the required total horsepower is about equal.

Design Safety Factors

In order for our system to have ample capacity, it is customary to carry a mainline pressure that is approximately 100
psi greater than that called for in our design. This additional pressure will accommodate line losses that are not
calculated exactly or otherwise expected. In addition, the volume that the compressor is expected to deliver is
usually increased by 10 percent to account for volume losses and the fuel needed for compression.

Summary of Procedures to Follow in Designing Surface Facilities

We may summarize the work that must be done, then, in designing our surface system for a gas lift installation.
1. We begin by making a layout of the entire surface system including the wells, gathering lines, stock
tanks, separators, and other items of equipment that materially affect gas lift operations.
2. We then specify the wells which will undergo either continuous or intermittent gas lift, including the time
during which each is to be undergoing gas lift operation.
3. Next, we design the gas lift system for each well, specifying the pressures, the volume, the cycles, and
the expected life of the gas lift operation for that well. This is a key element of our design in that it provides
the pressures, volumes, and cycles to which our system must respond over time.

4. Next, we make production estimates, including the gas volumes and pressures that will be available from
our separator. The pressure and volume values serve as input to our compressor calculations.

5. The next step is to specify the gas sales and makeup volumes needed and their availability.
6. We then design the balance of our surface system including the gathering lines and the control system.
7. The design of our system compressor is next. We can calculate a reasonably accurate measure of the
horsepower needed; however, we usually then meet with manufacturers to be sure that the final design is
one which will meet the needs of our gas lift system.
8. Finally, we remember to build into our design a volume safety factor of 10 percent and a pressure safety
factor of 100 psi.
You should now be able to undertake a preliminary design of a gas lift system. It will require a good deal of effort on
your part, and there will be times when you will want to discuss your design with your senior engineer and with the
engineering staff of a gas lift equipment manufacturer. The final design should be one that satisfies all of the
systems needs without being overdesigned.

1: a) Calculate the maximum production capability for a well under intermittent gas lift given the
following information:
Depth of well perforations 8100-8200 ft.
Tubing size 2 3/8-inch
Casing size 7-inch - 20#1A
Tubing back-pressure (surface) 50 psi
Gas pressure to kickoff 800 psi
Gas pressure to operate 725 psi
Gas gravity 0.65
Well fluid gradient 0.40
Kill fluid gradient 0.45
Average reservoir pressure 1800 psi @ 8000 ft.
(Note: for 2 3/8-inch tubing the internal volume per foot is = 0.00387 bbls/ft.)
b) What volume of gas is required per cycle for the well considered in Part (a) above? The
following empirical relationship describes the minimum surface closing pressure versus depth of
the operating valve for intermittent gas lift.
for Dv > 5500 ft:
surface closing pressure = 00350v + 330
for Dv < 5500 ft:
surface closing pressure = 0.07 Dv + 110
This pressure is the closing pressure of the operating valve at the surface. It must be corrected for downhole

ANS: The volume required per cycle is equal to the volume of gas lift in the tubing just as the slug reaches the
surface. The basic gas volume required is:


Pt is the valve opening pressure which we know to be 861 psi. The valve closing pressure is obtained by using the
relationship given in the Exercise statement.
For a valve located at 8000 ft., the surface-closing pressure is:
= (0.035) (8000) + 330 = 610 psi
pvc = 610+ (14.5)(8) = 726 psi
We now know both pt and pvc. We must still calculate Vt, the volume of the tubing not occupied by liquid. With a
depth of 8000 ft., a liquid level of 1275 ft., and the knowledge that 2 3/8-inch tubing contains 0.0217 cu. ft. per foot
of length, we may calculate Vt.
Vt = (8000 - 1275) (0.0217) = 145.9 cu. ft.
The gas volume required per cycle, then, is:

= 7859.6 cu. ft. = 7.86 MCF

2: What methods are available at the surface for controlling the flow of gas into the annulus during intermittent lift
and how do they work?

ANS: The two methods for controlling the flow of gas into the annulus during intermittent gas flow are time cycle
and choke control.
Time Cycle Control
The time cycle control method transfers the major part of the intermittent lift cycle control to the surface. This
control consists of a clock driven pilot, which opens and closes a diaphragm-actuated valve on the gas supply line.
The pilot can be adjusted to inject gas for a specific time and close the gas supply for a specific time. During the
injection time the annul us pressure increases until the force balance on the gas lift valve is satisfied. At this point
the valve opens and the lift starts. The gas injection will continue until the time cycle controller closes and the
annulus pressure drops to the close pressure of the gas lift valve. The volume of gas injected is determined by the
spread of the gas lift valve plus the gas injected from the time the gas lift valve opens until the surface timer closes.
During the pilot "off" time, the annulus pressure remains at the gas lift valve closing pressure and so lift cannot
occur until the pilot starts the next gas injection into the casing.
The optimum adjustment of the time cycle control method is accomplished when:
(a) The gas volume injected is reduced to the minimum necessary for efficient lift.
(b) The set time interval between cycles corresponds to the time required to inflow the properly
sized liquid slug.
Time cycle control offers the advantage of having a major part of the control at the surface and the disadvantage of a
high instantaneous gas flow demand on the high pressure gas distribution system. Also the time cycle control has
two interdependent adjustments making it more difficult to adjust.
Choke Control

The choke control method unitizes the well's inflow performance and the gas lift valves operational characteristics to
control the intermittent lift cycle. This surface control consists of an adjusTable choke or "flow control valve" on the
gas supply line. This choke is adjusted to allow the gas to flow into the annulus at a steady rate. During the liquid
inflow period, the gas lift valve is closed and the tubing pressure at the valve increases. The annulus pressure is also
increasing and when the two pressures reach the level set by the force balance equation, the gas lift valve opens and
starts the lift cycle. The flow capacity of the gas lift valve must exceed the gas flow rate through the choke.
Otherwise, no decrease in the annulus pressure will occur and the gas lift valve will not close.
The optimum adjustment of the choke control method is accomplished when the choke is adjusted so that the annul
us pressure build-up coincides with the liquid inflow rate from the formation, and the design casing and tubing
pressures are reached at the same time.
The choke control method has the advantage of steady demand on the gas supply system and a single function
adjustment. The cycle frequency is controlled by the well.
A disadvantage is that the operational efficiency depends on a more exact installation design and a predicTable
operation of the gas lift valves. It should be noted that a system designed for choke control can be operated by a time
cycle controller.

3: Draw a schematic of the surface facilities that might be required for a continuous gas lift operation. List the key
pieces of equipment or resources needed.

Figure 1
Possible facilities or resources needed for gas lift operations.
From the wellhead: wellhead pressure recording, instrumentation, gathering lines, separator, storage tanks, gas
sale point, gas make-up source, scrubber, compressor, controllers/chokes.

The Rod Pumping System
The beam or rod pumping system (Craft et al. 1962) consists essentially of five major components ( Figure 1 ):
1. Prime mover - the means by which power is provided to the pumping system.

Figure 1

2. Gear reducer - The gear system which reduces the speed of the motor to a suitable pumping speed.
3. Pumping unit - The means by which the oscillating motion of the gear reducer is transmitted into a
reciprocating motion at the pump.
4. Rod string - Provides the link between the pumping unit and the subsurface pump. It carries the load of
the fluid being lifted.
Subsurface pump - The means by which the fluids in the subsurface begin their movement upward and by
which the bottomhole pressure is reduced.
Beam pumping units fall into two distinct classes:
1. Class I: The conventional unit ( Figure 1a ) has its gear reducer rear-mounted with the fulcrum located at
the middle of the walking beam;

Figure 1a

2. Class III: The air balanced ( Figure 1b )

Figure 1b

and Lufkin Mark II ( Figure 1c ) units have the gear reducer front-mounted and the fulcrum located at the
rear of the walking beam.
The air balanced unit, with its small air compressor, allows more accurate control of counterbalance.

Figure 1c

Because air pressure, rather than counterweights, are used to provide counterbalance, the weight of this unit is much
less than other units. This significantly lowers transportation and installation costs for a given unit size.

Pumping Unit Designation

The pumping unit, according to API recommended practices, is designated using a 10 unit, alpha-numeric code
( Table 1 ). The code is quite easily interpreted. The first character on the left designates the type of pumping unit.
A - air balanced

Table 1

S - beam balanced

C - conventional
In our sample exercise, we assumed a conventional unit, and so we enter the letter (C).
In the next three locations of the code we enter the peak torque rating in thousands of in/lb. The peak torque in our
example was about 140,000 in/lb, so we enter 140. In the next location we enter the type of gear reducer to be used.
In most cases it will be a double reduction gear reducer, and so enter the letter (D).
The next three characters are used to define the peak polished rod load rating in hundreds of pounds. The peak
polished rod load was calculated to be 11,698 lb and so enter the number 117.
The last two characters are for the stroke length in inches. This is the longest possible stroke length for the unit. In
this case it is 64 inches, so we enter 64.
This designation is for the ideal pumping unit, that is, one which would solve the example problem. Manufacturers,
however, design units in certain standard sizes, and so we would look to their catalogs to find the unit that will
accommodate our needs. In Table 2 we show a portion of Lufkin Industries' catalogue. The pump type circled most
closely matches our ideal pumping unit.

Table 2

Therefore C-160D-143-64 is the unit you would purchase. This unit would be somewhat over-designed for the
expected peak polished rod load, but would otherwise satisfy design criteria. Notice that there are three possible
stroke lengths for this unit including our design of 64 inches. It is also possible with this unit to change the stroke
length, as needed, to 42 or 23 inches.

Elementary Description of the Pump Cycle

We begin our description of the pump system by describing the pumping cycle in its simplest form. It is shown in
cross section in Figure 1 .

Figure 1

We see, in both (a) and (b), that the standing valve is located at the bottom of the tubing and the traveling valve is
located at the bottom of the rods. Because the plunger is an integral part of the rod system, all fluids that pass from a
point in the tubing below the traveling valve to a point above it must pass through the traveling valve. Let us begin
our description of the pumping action at a point in the pumping cycle where the plunger is moving downward near
the bottom of the stroke (a). Fluid above the standing valve is moving upward through the traveling valve which is
open. The standing valve itself is closed because it carries the weight of the fluid column above in the tubing.
The plunger reaches the bottom of the stroke and begins its upward movement (b). The traveling valve closes as the
plunger lifts the weight of the fluid above it in the tubing. As the plunger moves upward the volume in the working
barrel between the standing valve and traveling valve increases, and the pressure in the working barrel declines. As
soon as the pressure in the working barrel falls to a level below that exerted by the fluids flowing into the well from
the formation, the standing valve opens and formation fluids flow upward through it.
Wellbore fluids are lifted one full stroke during the upward movement of the plunger. Once the plunger reaches the
top of its stroke, its movement is reversed, the traveling valve opens, the standing valve closes, and the cycle is
The cycle continues with the alternating movement of the rods and the opening and closing of the two valves. Stroke
by stroke the fluid is moved up the tubing to the surface. The valves do not necessarily open and close at the exact
top and bottom of the stroke. The point in the upstroke at which the standing valve opens depends upon the spacing,
that is, the volume that exists at the bottom of the stroke, between the traveling and standing valves, and on the
amount of free gas present in this volume. On the downstroke, the traveling valve remains closed until the pressure
below the plunger exceeds that above it. The traveling valve then opens and fluid passes through it into the tubing.

The exact point in the downstroke at which the traveling valve opens depends on the free gas volume in the fluid
below the valve.
It is clear from this elementary description of the pumping cycle that the higher the volume of free gas, the greater
the proportion of the stroke that is taken up in gas expansion and compression, without any true pumping action
taking place.
For wells producing a reasonable volume of gas, a natural gas anchor is normally installed on the tubing below the
pump. This allows the separated gas to be produced up the annulus before it would otherwise enter the pump.

Detailed Description of the Subsurface Pump

In Figure 1 we see a cross section of a subsurface rod pump.

Figure 1

It contains a working barrel, a plunger, traveling valve and standing valve. The working barrel is connected to the
tubing and the plunger is connected to the sucker rods. There is a perforated gas anchor on the bottom of the
pumping unit. As mentioned earlier, the gas anchor is constructed to allow formation fluids to separate before
entering the pump. This directs much of the free gas into the casing-tubing annulus. The gas anchor is connected to
the working barrel by means of a shoe.
In Figure 2 we see the two principal categories of subsurface pumps: the tubing pump on the left, and the rod or
insert pump on the right.

The casing pump, which is not

of the rod pump. The basic
tubing and the rod pump is the
barrel is installed.

shown, is a special version

difference between the
way in which the working

For a tubing pump (a), the

to the bottom of the tubing
the tubing string. This allows
slightly less than the tubing
volumes of fluid being
length and speed. Tubing
strongest pump construction
of the tubing pump is that the
pulled in order to service the
pump hardware.

working barrel is connected

and is an integral part of
the plunger diameter to be
diameter, resulting in high
pumped for a given stroke
pumps also offer the
available. The disadvantage
entire tubing string must be
working barrel and other

The rod or insert pump (b), on

working barrel which is part
assembly, and is run on the
being an integral part of the
pump can be serviced by
disadvantage is that very
are possible, and so its swept
possible with a tubing pump
and speed.

the other hand, has a

of the subsurface pump
sucker rod, rather than
tubing. Thus, the insert
pulling only the rods. Its
limited plunger diameters
volumes are less than those
for a given stroke length

Criteria for Classifying Pumps

Tubing Pumps
The criteria for classifying pumps, particularly the tubing pump, usually depend upon (1) the type of working barrel,
(2) the standing valve arrangement, and (3) the type of plunger used.
The working barrel criteria states that pumps may be classified according to whether its working barrel is a onepiece, tube-type working barrel, or a liner contained-within-an-outside-jacket working barrel. The one-piece
working barrel, which may be heavy- or thin-wall, is made of cold-drawn, seamless steel, cast iron, or corrosion
resistant alloys.
The working barrel consists of a length of cold-drawn tubing, which is polished on the inside to smooth the walls, so
as to ease the plunger movement ( Figure 1 ).

Figure 1

A widely used working barrel, referred to as the common working barrel, is the heavy-wall version of the one-piece
barrel (a).
The liner working barrel consists of an outer steel jacket containing within it a single hardened steel liner, or
alternatively several short, sectional liners held in place by clamping collars (b). The liner working barrel has greater
precision, lower repair cost, but higher capital cost than the common working barrel.
The second criteria used for classifying pumps is the standing valve arrangement. Tubing pumps may be classified
according to whether the standing valve is fixed or removable.
Figure 2 illustrates a fixed standing valve tubing pump.

Figure 2

The fixed-type standing valve is located at the bottom of the tubing string (a). Note that the plunger is pulling out
and the standing valve is still located at the shoe of the tubing (b). The entire tubing string must be pulled in order to
service it (c).
Figure 3 illustrates a removable standing valve tubing pump.

Figure 3

The standing valve is located at the shoe of the tubing when the pump is operating (a). To remove the valve (b), the
plunger is lowered onto a special fitting on the standing valve, which is then brought to the surface along with the
plunger and sucker rods. The barrel and tubing are left in place in the subsurface.
A third criterion for classifying pumps is the makeup and composition of their plungers. There are two basic types of
plungers: the cup or soft pack type, and those made of metal.
The cup-type plunger is the oldest form of seal used in pumping units ( Figure 4 ).

Figure 4

The cups are usually made of leather- or rubber-impregnated canvas; however, many new types of synthetic
materials are now being used to satisfy the need for a flexible plunger. On the upstroke (a), pressure exerted by the
fluid column forces the cup to expand and form a seal between the lip of the cup and the wall of the barrel. On the
downstroke (b), as pressure is equalized on both sides of the cup, it collapses inward allowing the plunger to fall
freely. Generally these types of plungers are not used below 5,000 ft.
Metal plungers are made of cast iron or steel and have either a smooth or grooved sealing surface ( Figure 5 ).

Figure 5

Grooved plungers offer an advantage when the well produces some sand. Sand particles can be trapped in the
groves, preventing them from abrading the plunger. Metal-to-metal seal for these plungers depends upon an
extremely close clearance. This type of plunger usually wears better than the cup-type and is used
in deeper wells. Note that it is possible to have a combination of both cup- and ring-type plungers in a single pump.

Rod Pumps
We remember that for the rod, or insert pump, the working barrel is installed on the sucker rod string. There are two
types of rod pumps. The first, referred to as a stationary rod pump, is one where the plunger moves and the working
barrel is stationary ( Figure 6 ).

Figure 6

The second, referred to as an traveling barrel pump, is one where the working barrel moves and the plunger remains
stationary ( Figure 7 ).

Figure 7

There is also a less common type of rod pump - the three-tube pump. In this pump, an inner plunger and an outside
barrel telescope down in a concentric manner around a standing barrel, to form a long fluid seal between the barrels.
Because this pump does not use mechanical seals, it functions well in abrasive fluids and sandy wells.

Casing Pumps
To complete the discussion on pump classification, it is necessary to mention the last type of pump - the casing
pump ( Figure 8 ).

Figure 8

The casing pump is a special type of insert pump, which is run into the well on sucker rods. A packer, placed either
at the top or bottom of the working barrel, provides the fluid pack-off between the working barrel and the casing. No
tubing is used. This type of pump is generally used for large volume, shallow pumping operations.

API Pump Classification

Now that we have a good understanding of the subsurface pumps and the various optional designs that are possible,
let us turn to the API classification (API Spec 11AX, 1979) for subsurface pumps.
The classification is based on the specification of three elements of the pump: first, whether it is a rod- or tubingtype pump; second, whether it has a stationary or traveling working barrel and the type of barrel and plunger
installed; third, for rod pumps with stationary barrels, whether it has a top or bottom seating assembly, or anchor.
An anchor, in this case, is a mechanism that keeps one section of the pump stationary so that the pump can operate
properly. It is often referred to as a hold-down.
The API classification uses a three letter code in which each letter refers to one of the three elements of the pump.
The full range of API pump classifications is shown in Figure 1 .

Figure 1

Pumps (a) and (b) in Figure 1 are examples of stationary barrel, top hold-down pumps. Top hold-down pumps are
recommended for use in sandy wells, because sand particles cannot settle over the seating nipple. This makes the
pump easier to remove. These pumps also perform well in wells with low fluid levels, because the standing valve is
submerged deeper than in the case of bottom hold-down pumps. Pump (a) has the API classification RHA, meaning
that it is a rod-type pump (R), has a stationary, heavy-wall barrel (H), and a top anchor (A). The top anchor refers to
the fact that the standing valve is held in place from above. (If the stationary, heavy-wall barrel is changed to a
stationary, liner barrel, the designation for the pump changes to RLA. In this case, only the middle letter changes in
our pump classification.)
Pump (b) is similar to the type of RHA pump. Again, it is a rod-type pump but it has a stationary, thin-wall barrel
and a top anchor. Its designation is RWA. (If everything remains the same with this pump, except when a softpacked plunger is installed, then the designation changes to RSA.)
A rod-type pump that has a stationary, heavy-wall barrel but a bottom anchor is an RHB pump (c). Note that for a
bottom anchor pump, the standing valve is held from below and that a (B), rather than an (A), designation is used.
(If the barrel is changed to a stationary, liner barrel, the designation changes to RLB.)
An RWB pump (d) has the same configuration, but with stationary, thin-wall barrel; if a soft-pack plunger is used in
the pump, the designation is RSB.
If we have a traveling, heavy-wall barrel with a bottom anchor on a rod pump (e), the designation is RHT. (If the
traveling barrel is a liner barrel, the designation is RLT.)
If we have the same type of pump (f) but the traveling barrel is a thin-wall barrel, the designation is RWT. (If a soft
plunger is added, the designation is RST.)

If, instead of a rod-type pump (g) a tubing pump with a heavy-wall barrel is used, then the designation is TH. (If a
liner barrel replaces the heavy-wall barrel, the designation is TL.)
Finally, a tubing pump (h) with a heavy-wall barrel hut a soft-pack plunger is given the designation TP.
It should be noted that a metal plunger is used in situations where a specific designation is not given. Please do not
attempt to memorize each of the sixteen designations just covered. It is sufficient to know that the API classification
exists and how to use it. It should be pointed out that, in practice, only three or four of these designations are
generally used.

API Pump Designation

The next step is to learn the API designation for a complete pump (API Spec 11AX, 1979). It consists of a 12
character, alpha-numeric designation spaced as shown in Table 1 .

Table 1

We shall beg in at the left and develop a specific pump designation. The first two characters refer to a tubing size
The 1.9-inch 0.D. tubing, for example, has a code number 15 while that for a 3 1/2-inch 0.D. has a code number 30.
For our example, we shall assume that a 2 3/8-inch 0.D. tubing is installed in the pump and so place the code
number 20 on the left of the pump designation.
The next three characters refer to the code for the pump bore size. There are nine pump bores available and each has
its own code. A three number code refers to pump bore sizes ranging from 1 1/16 inches through 2 3/4 inches in
diameter. Assume a bore size for the example pump of 1 1/2 inches, then the next three characters will contain the
number 150.
The next four characters refer to a description of the pump. The first specifies whether it is a rod or tubing pump.
Our pump is of the rod type, and so we use the letter (R) for the designation.

The second character refers to the type of barrel, whether it is a heavy-wall, a thin-wall or a liner barrel. If it is
assumed that our pump has a stationary, heavy-wall barrel, then we use the letter "H" in the pump designation.
The third character refers to the location of the seating assembly, whether top or bottom, and if on the bottom,
whether it is a stationary or traveling barrel. Our pump has a top anchor, and so we designate this by using the letter
The fourth character in this series refers to the type of seating assembly. There are only two choices: a cup-type
assembly, indicated by the letter (C), or a mechanical seating assembly, indicated by an (M). We assume a
mechanical assembly and enter the letter (M) in the appropriate location.
A rod-type pump, then, with a stationary, heavy-wall barrel, a metal plunger, and a top anchor with a mechanicaltype seating assembly, will have the designation RHAM.
The next three characters refer to pump length. The first character refers to the barrel length in ft and, for this
example, we specify it to be 8 ft. The second character refers to the nominal plunger length, again in ft.
There is an old rule of thumb which states that to limit fluid slippage, pump plungers should be three ft long in
wells, less than 3,000 ft deep, 3 ft plus 1 ft in length for each 1,000 ft between 3,000 and 6,000 ft of depth, and 6 ft
long for wells 6,000 ft and deeper. One exception to this rule is that shorter plungers should be used for pumping
viscous oils. For our pump, let us assume a plunger length of 3 ft.
The final character is the total length of extensions to the barrel, if any exist, again in ft. Extensions from 6 inches to
4 ft can be added to both ends of a heavy-wall barrel, primarily to prevent scale buildup within the barrel.
In order to purchase a pump, the only additional information needed is the type of material that the liner or barrel
and plunger are to be made of, the plunger clearance, the valve material, and the length of each extension that you
may wish to install.

Sucker Rod Specifications

The fabrication specifications for sucker rods, including pony rods, polished rods, couplings, and sub-couplings
have been standardized by API (API Spec llB, 1982). In reviewing this publication you will see that sucker rods are
usually made in 25 ft lengths, except in California where they come in 30 ft lengths. The six standard rod diameters
are 1/2, 5/8, 3/4, 7/8, 1, and 1 1/8 inch.
Rods are normally made of steel with the iron composition exceeding 90%. Other elements are added to the steel
alloys to add hardness, reduce oxidation, and combat corrosion. The choice of sucker rods is essentially a choice
between API grade C rods, which have a minimum and maximum tensile strength of 90,000 and 115,000 psi, and
grade 0 rods, which have limits of 115,000 and 140,000 psi. Tensile strength refers to maximum load that can be
sustained by the rod.
It has become standard operating practice to run grade 0 rods in wells, except where corrosion is severe or where
there is concern with regard to H2S embrittlement. A higher tensile strength rod is available for special applications.
This type of rod must be handled with care. If damaged, it may lose its high strength properties. Fiberglass sucker
rods were introduced in the early 1970s. Initially, their main area of application was corrosive wells (fiberglass is
not subject to corrosion). But over time it became clear that fiberglass rods offer additional benefits. Their lighter
weight (about 70% less than steel rods) reduces the load on the pumping unit system, allowing for increased
production without having to change the surface pumping unit. Also, when combined with the proper proportions
with steel rods, they can in some cases produce longer pump strokes than stiffer, all-steel strings can. At the same
time, however, fiberglass rods are more expensive than steel rods. They also increase the complexity of the
installation design, and they require a greater degree of care in the field (Gibbs, 1991).

1: (a) Describe the five components of the rod pumping system.
(b) Draw the two main types of surface pumping units. How do they differ?

(c) Why are the counterweights needed?

(d) How is the length of stroke changed? The pump speed?

ANS: Part (a)

The beam or rod pumping system consists essentially of five components:
1. Prime mover - The means by which power is provided to the pumping system.
2. Gear reducer - The gear system which reduces the speed of the prime mover to a suitable pumping
3. Pumping Unit - The means by which the oscillating motion of the gear reducer is transmitted into a
reciprocating motion at the pump.
4. Rod string - provides the link between the pumping unit and the subsurface pump. It carries the load of
the fluid being lifted.
5. Subsurface pump - The means by which the fluids in the subsurface begin their movement upward and
the bottomhole pressure is reduced.

Part (b)
All surface pumping units fall into two main classes:
1. Class I: The conventional unit has its gear reducer rear-mounted with the fulcrum at the middle of the
walking beam.
2. Class III: The air balanced and the Mark II units have the gear reducer front-mounted, and the fulcrum
located at the rear of the walking beam.

Part (c)
Practically all of the work of lifting fluids, using a sucker rod pump, is performed during the upstroke part of the
pumping cycle. On the downstroke, the fluid load is transferred to the tubing and the rods free fall through the fluids.
Some means for equalizing these upstroke and downstroke loads is needed so as to offset the unnecessarily high
demand for power and high peak torque imposed on the gear reducer, which occur during the upstroke.
Counterweights provide a counterbalance effect at the polished rod which allows for even distribution of loads on
the prime mover and for reduction of peak torque on the gear reducer. The counterweights, in effect, cause energy to
be stored during the downstroke when power demand is low, and contribute energy during the upstroke, when power
demand is high. They allow for a lower prime mover horsepower to be installed.

Part (d)
The length of polished rod stroke can be changed by anchoring the pitman at a different location on the crank (there
are usually three different positions possible). For a given gear reducer, the pump speed can be adjusted by
rearranging the v-belt on the prime mover sheave or the gear reducer sheave (or both).

2: (a) Describe the subsurface elements of the downhole pump.

(b) Describe the subsurface pump cycle. What controls the opening and closing of the traveling valve?

ANS: Part (a)

A typical downhole pump has the following components:

Working barrel: A section of tube which houses the plunger of the pump.
Plunger: A moving piston, connected to the rods, which houses the traveling valve.
Traveling valve: A valve which is located at the end of the plunger. It is closed on the upstroke part of the
pumping cycle and is opened on the downstroke.
Standing valve: A stationary valve located on the tubing at the bottom of the pump. The standing valve
opens and admits fluid from the formation during the plunger upstroke and closes during the plunger

Part (b)
We begin our description of the pump cycle with the upstroke. As the upstroke begins, the fluid load in the plunger
causes the traveling valve to close and, as the plunger moves upward in the tubing and is produced at the surface.
The motion of the plunger on the upstroke causes a pressure decrease above the standing valve, which opens and
admits fluid from the formation. As the downstroke begins, the loads are reversed. Consequently, the traveling valve
opens, the standing valve closes, and the fluid load is transferred from the plunger to the tubing.

3: (a) Describe the difference between a tubing and an insert pump.

(b) What are the advantages and disadvantages of each?
(c) How are tubing pumps classified?
(d) What are the advantages and disadvantages of thin-, heavy-wall, and liner barrels?

ANS: Part (a)

In a tubing pump, the barrel is run on the tubing and is an integral part of the tubing string. In a rod pump, the
complete unit is run on the rod string.

Part (b)
Rod pump
Advantages: The entire pump assembly is run on the rod string. Since it is not necessary to pull the tubing
to retrieve working barrel, the cost to service the pump is lower.
Disadvantages: The plunger diameter is relatively smaller and, for given stroke length and pump speed,
there will be a lower displacement.
Tubing pump
Advantages: This pump has a greater displacement than rod type because a larger plunger diameter can be
used within the larger working barrels.
Disadvantages: The entire tubing string has to be pulled from the well for servicing the working barrel.

Part (c)
The tubing pumps are classified:
1. In relation to the type of working barrel used;
2. In relation to the standing valve arrangement; and

3. In relation to the type of plunger used.

Part (d)
The advantages and disadvantages of thin-, heavy-wall, and liner barrels are:*
* This complete answer, supplied by a manufacter's bulletin, is more than we expect from your response. You
should, however, have answered at least three in this list.
1. With the same length of barrel, a thin-wall barrel pump will produce a greater volume of fluid than a
liner barrel pump of the same outside diameter, because it can be made with a larger inside diameter.
2. Because of its simpler construction, the one-piece barrel is lower in price than a liner barrel of the same
length and outside diameter.
3. Maintenance costs are lower with a one-piece barrel pump than with a liner pump due to fewer parts and
easier servicing.
4. Where a top-anchored rod pump is desirable, a pump equipped with a one-piece barrel can be used in
deeper wells, where it would not be considered safe to use a liner pump. The one-piece barrel can stretch
under the load of the fluid column without hurting the pump; the jacket used in a liner pump stretches under
the fluid-column load in deep wells, and the liners become loose and misaligned.
5. Liner and one-piece heavy-wall barrels are not limited in length as are one-piece thin-wall barrels, and
they can be used with center connecting collars.
6. Sections, from a sectional-liner barrel (often made of cast material), can be rebored and reused to reduce
replacement cost.
7. A closer tolerance between the barrel and the plunger can be achieved with a sectional-liner barrel than
with a onepiece barrel or liner. This is an important consideration in wells, with high bottomhole pressures,
where an accurate fit is necessary to reduce the plunger-slippage rate. In addition, the possibilities of sand
pockets are lessened.
8. Special corrosive and abrasive metals that cannot stand the stresses imposed upon them in long, solid,
one-piece barrel construction, or those that become distorted when formed in great lengths, can be made
into short liners and used in sectional-liner construction.

4: (a) What elements of the subsurface pump are used in the API classification?
(b) What is the difference between a RHA and a TH pump? Between a RWA and a RWB pump? Between a RHB
and a RHT? Between a TH and a TP pump?
(c) Provide the complete API specification for a pump with the following configuration: 2 7/8-inch tubing, 2-inch
bore, tubing pump with a heavy-wall barrel, metal plunger, bottom hold-down, mechanical seat, a 6-ft barrel, a 3-ft
plunger length and no extensions. What other information should be provided by the purchaser?

ANS: Part (a)

The API has adopted a classification system for subsurface pumps. These classifications, taken from API
Recommended Practice llAR, are listed as follows:
Types of pumps: whether it is a rod or tubing pump.
Types of barrels: whether it has a stationary or traveling working barrel and the type of barrel installed.
Types of anchors: for rod pumps with stationary barrels, whether it has a top or bottom anchor.

Types of plungers: Whether it has a metal or softpacked plunger.

Part (b)
RHA is a rod pump with a stationary heavy-wall barrel and a top anchor pump. This pump is good for sandy wells,
and it is a good design where long pumps are necessary. TH is a tubing pump with a heavy-wall barrel. Under
comparable conditions, this pump has a greater capacity and it is adaptable for producing viscous fluid. Servicing
the rod pump is easy. RWA is a rod pump with a stationary thin-wall barrel and a top anchor. This pump is good for
sandy wells and excellent for low fluid level wells.
RWB is a rod pump with a stationary thin-wall barrel and a bottom anchor. This pump is good for deep wells.
RHB is a rod pump with a heavy-wall barrel and bottom anchor. This pump is designed for deep wells where long
pumps are necessary. RHT is a rod pump with a traveling, heavy-wall barrel and bottom anchor. This pump has a
stronger pull tube and the agitation keeps sand from setting. This pump is not recommended for gas-problem wells.
TH is a tubing pump with a heavy-wall barrel and metal plunger. TP is also a tubing pump with a heavy-wall barrel
but has a soft-packed plunger.

Part (c)
Given the complete API specification for a pump, you can write the pump designation as follows:
25-200 THBM 6-3-0.
In order to purchase a pump, the only additional information a purchaser needs is the type of material that the liner
or barrel and plunger are to be made of, the plunger clearance, the valve material and the length of each extension
that might be installed.


Pump Displacement and Efficiency Calculations
It seems clear that a combination of plunger diameter or plunger area, stroke length, and pump speed, that is, the
number of strokes per minute, yield the volume of fluid displaced at the pump. The pump displacement, then, is
given by the following relationship:
PD = 0.1166 Sp N D2
PD = pump displacement, B/D
Sp = plunger stroke length, in
N = pumping speed, strokes/min
D = plunger diameter, in
Given the following data:
Sp = 40 in
N = 30 SPM
D = 2 in
We calculate PD to be:
PD = (0.1166)(40)(30)(2)2 = 559 B/D.


You should recognize that this value represents the maximum, not the actual, capacity of the pump in the subsurface.
In order to estimate the surface capacity of our pump, we must know the actual capacity of the pump in the
subsurface and then account for other losses in capacity that occur as the fluids move to the surface. The objective,
is to calculate the pump efficiency (Ep), that is, the relationship between the volume of oil produced at the surface
and the capacity of the pump in the subsurface.
Pump efficiency is usually expressed as a percentage, and is generally less than 100% for three major reasons. The
first is slippage, that is, the volume of fluid that slips downward around the plunger and, therefore, is not fully
displaced during a pump stroke. The second, and more important loss in efficiency, is the result of gas coming out of
solution as the fluid travels up the wellbore to the surface. This is usually referred to as fluid shrinkage, and depends
on the properties of the crude oil being pumped and the vertical pressure changes. The third reason for loss in pump
efficiency is the potential for the crude to foam within the pump itself. When foaming occurs the pump not only
displaces liquid but also compresses the gas phase of the foam.
Local operating conditions will determine the pumps efficiency. For estimating purposes, we observe that it is
normally found to be in the range of 70% to 80%. For our example, if the pump efficiency is estimated to be 80%,
the production at the surface will equal:
q = (0.8)(559) = 447 B/D.
The stroke length used in these calculations is the stroke length at the pump itself. Because of rod stretch and
contraction, acceleration and inertial effects, the actual stroke length at the surface will be considerably larger. In
some cases, the stroke length in the subsurface will be only 75% to 80% of the stroke length at the surface. We may
control the stroke length at the surface but must use the stroke length at the pump in the calculation of the theoretical

Selection of Optimal Plunger Diameter, Stroke Length, and Pump Speed

We have seen how a pump displacement calculation is made, but have not yet learned how to make the optimal
selection of plunger diameter, stroke length, and pump speed. There are some limits placed on the selection. For
example, if we select a plunger diameter which is too large, unnecessarily high stresses may be imposed on the rods
and surface equipment. On the other hand, if a small plunger is selected and it must pump at high rates of speed in
order to achieve the necessary production, then, the inertial effects of the movement of the rods and pump will cause
increased peak loads on the equipment. There is an optimal selection, then, of the plunger diameter, stroke length
and pump speed for a given production rate. We shall begin our selection procedure by considering the optimum
pump plunger size and then, proceed to the other two variables.
In Table 1 is shown the optimal plunger size to use for a desired surface production rate for well depths to 5,000 ft.

Table 1

This table is given for pumps operating at an assumed efficiency of 80%. It is based upon an internal report of
Bethlehem Steel Company. for a surface production of 100 B/D, for example, the required plunger size is in the
range of 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 inches. Note that the range increases by 1/4 inch for every 100 bbls of additional production
required at the surface. For 400 B/D, then, a plunger size of 2 to 2 1/4 inches is required.
Once the optimal plunger size has been determined, the manufacturers catalogue is consulted to select the pump
type and tubing size that will accommodate that particular plunger. A typical manufacturers recommendation is
given in Table 2 .

Table 2

Knowing the plunger diameter, there remains only two variables that must be determined for an optimal pump
design, specifically, the stroke length and the pump speed. Both can be obtained by referring to typical charts
published by pump manufacturers. One such chart is shown in Figure 1 .

Figure 1

Note that the stroke length, in inches, is plotted on the vertical scale, and the maximum speed permitted by rod fall,
in strokes per minute, is plotted on the horizontal scale. The line drawn on the chart represents the maximum
practical limit of both stroke length and rod speed, which will allow the rod sufficient time to free-fall through the
fluid on the downstroke. The rods should be allowed to free-fall so as to avoid excessive stress on the polished rod
clamp and hangar bar on the downstroke. Therefore, a stroke length and pump speed which falls below the line must
be selected. This selection procedure can be shown by referring to an example: We assume that the desired surface
production rate is 400 B/D, the pump efficiency is 80%, and the plunger diameter (D) is 2 inches. The stroke
efficiency (Es), that is, the ratio of the stroke length at the pump to the stroke length at the surface is 85%.
With this information we modify the displacement equation, Eq. 1, for both pump efficiency and stroke efficiency to
obtain the following equation:

q = surface production rate, B/D
Ep = pump efficiency, fraction
0 = pump diameter, inches
E5 = stroke efficiency, fraction
S = stroke length at surface, inches
N = pump speed, stroke/min

By rearranging Eq. 2 and substituting the specific values into the above equation, we obtain a relationship for SN:

We now incorporate this product into the stroke length versus maximum speed chart ( Figure 1 ). It defines a line on
the chart which will satisfy this specific pump design. Any point along the line, SN = 1,262, will define an
acceptable stroke length and speed. The point where this line intersects the maximum practical limit line suggested
by the manufacturers is at a stroke length of about 45 inches and a pump speed of about 28 strokes/min. (This pump
speed is somewhat higher than normal). We would use a pump design specification of:
D = 2 in
S = 45 in
N = 28 SPM
as a first approximation in designing the balance of the rod pump system.
It should be noted that the above design procedure is not absolute. A number of wells have operated very efficiently
at pump speeds above the designated maximum. Local experience will provide the practical knowledge needed to
modify design parameters. Remember, the plot in Figure 1 is for a conventional pumping unit. Similar curves are to
be found in Figure 2

Figure 2

and Figure 3 for both the air balanced and Mar II units.

Figure 3

Rod Stress Calculations

In addition to the environment to which rods will be exposed, it is important not to exceed the maximum allowable
rod stress. In order to calculate the maximum rod stress, we use the Modified Goodman equation or, as seen in many
publications, the Modified Goodman diagram. The Modified Goodman equation is formulated as follows:
SA= (0.25 T + 0.5625 Smin) x SF


SA = max. allowable rod stress, psi
T = min. tensile strength, psi
Smin = min. rod stress, psi
SF = service factor.
The variables on the right-hand side are obtained as follows. T is specified for each API rod grade. If we know the
API grade, we have a published value. for T. The minimum rod stress, Smin, is either estimated for the proposed
application or measured directly. It will be shown later, that it is equal to the minimum polished rod load divided by
the cross-sectional area of the rod.
The service factor, SF, depends upon the environment in which the rods will be placed ( Table 1 ).

Table 1

SF will have a value of 1.0 for API grade C and 0 rods, when they are used in non-corrosive environments, but
values of less than one, for saltwater and H2S environments. Note that the service factor for corrosive environments
is lower for grade C than it is for grade 0 rods.
We may use the Modified Goodman equation to calculate the maximum rod stress for a grade C rod operating in a
saltwater environment where the minimum stress, Smin, has been calculated to be 10,000 psi. T, the minimum
tensile strength, is 90,000 psi and the service factor for saltwater for grade C rods is 0.65. Substituting these values
into Eq. 3 yields:
SA = (0.25 x 90,000 + 0.5625 x 10,000)(0.65) = 18,281 psi.
This rod stress should not be exceeded. We shall incorporate this limitation into our calculations in later sections of
the manual.
In general, maximum allowable rod stresses under working conditions should not be higher than 30,000 to 40,000
psi. The newer, high tensile strength rods are rated at 40,000 to 50,000 psi in non-corrosive environments.

Tapered Rod Strings

The most accepted way of designing a rod string longer than 3,500 ft is to use a tapered string, that is, to have
several different lengths of rods of different diameters, with the largest diameter rod at the top and the smallest at the
bottom. The tapered string may consist or as few as two and as many as four different size rods ( Figure 1 ).

Figure 1

One fundamental design criterion used for a tapered rod string is that the string have approximately the same unit
stress in the top rod of each section. That is, the rod loads in the top rod or each section divided by their respective
cross-sectional areas should be equal. This provides for a safe design even in the event that some corrosion pitting
takes place.
In order to select the appropriate tapered rod string for a specific well, we turn to the API Recommended Practice
Data from one of these tables is reproduced here as Table 1 .

Table 1

The sample information given is for a 5/8"-1/2" tapered rod string. The first column is the API rod number
designation; the second is the pump plunger diameter. The third, fourth and fifth columns refer to certain rod
constants. The next two constants show the percentages of each diameter rod that should be used in a tapered rod
string for this specific rod number designation.
For example, if we have a plunger diameter of 1.06 inches, then, looking at the right-hand columns, we see that
44.6% of the string should consist of 5/8-inch rods and 55.4% of 1/2-inch rods.
Alternatively, we might select API rod number designation 75 for a 1.06-inch plunger, using the data shown in Table
2 , and find that 27% of the rod string should have 7/8-inch rods, 27.4% have 3/4-inch rods, and 45.6% have 5/8inch rods.

Table 2

The key to the API procedure for designing pumping is one of trial and error. This includes the design of sucker rod
strings. We first select a tapered rod string and carry through the calculations to determine whether the maximum
rod stress placed on the rods exceeds the maximum limits for the class of rods used. If it does, then it is necessary to
select other rod number designations until you find one which will satisfy the design limitation.
For the 1.06-inch diameter plunger we found two designs that might be used. Converting the percent values to actual
rod lengths, the first design for a 5,000 ft well would consist of 2,230 ft of 5/8-inch rods above 2,770 ft of 1/2-inch
rods. Because rods generally come in 25 ft lengths, these two numbers would be adjusted to 2,225 and 2,775 ft,
respectively ( Table 3 ).

Table 3

Following the same procedure for the second design, we would end up with 1,350 ft of 7/8-inch rods at the top,
followed by 1,375 ft of 3/4-inch rods, and, below that, 2,275 of 5/8-inch rods ( Table 3 ).
In our API design calculations, then, we would select one of these tapered strings and see if it meets the design
limitations. If it did not, we would move to a heavier rod string. Alternatively, if the rod string was overdesigned, we
might select a lighter string.

Calculation of Rod Loads During Pumping Operations

Now that we know the basic properties of rods, and the design of rod strings, we should turn to the calculation of rod
loads during pumping operations. We must know these rod loads in order to design the surface unit. Later, we shall
see that rod loads are measured at the surface during production operations in order to calculate what is occurring
downhole at the pump.
As we consider the motion of the polished rod and the action of the valves in the subsurface, we realize the load the
rod must carry varies continuously during the pumping cycle. Its maximum load occurs shortly after the beginning
of the upstroke when the traveling valve closes and the polished rod must carry the full weight of the fluids, the rods,
and the added inertial effects that occur when the motion of the rods are reversed. The minimum load on the
polished rod will occur shortly after the polished rod begins its downward motion and the traveling valve opens. At
that point, the rods no longer carry the fluid load and the inertial effects are reversed, thereby reducing the total rod
load to a value which is below the weight of the rods in the produced fluids. Let us see if it is possible to calculate
the maximum and minimum polished rod loads.
We begin with the peak polished rod load, or PPRL, which is equal to the weight of the rods in air, minus the
buoyancy of the rods in the produced fluids, plus the weight of the fluid column supported by the plunger area, plus
the effects of the inertial and acceleration forces on the rods. That is:
PPRL = W - Br + Fo + I
W = weight of rods in air, lb
Br = buoyancy of rods in fluids, lb
Fo = weight of fluid column, 1b


I = effects of inertial and acceleration forces, lb.

Calculating the weight of the rods in air is quite straightforward. We find the average weight per foot of rods for the
specific tapered rod string, Wr, and multiply that by the total length of the rods in feet, L. For our first rod design,
the average weight of the rods is 1.566 lb/ft, the length of the string is 5,000 ft and so the weight of the rods in air,
W, is 7,830 lb.
The second term, the buoyancy of rods in the produced fluids, is equal to the weight of the fluids that the rods
displace. It is equal to:

G = specific gravity of the produced fluid, dimensionless
W = weight of rods in air, lb
62.4 = density of water, 1b/cu ft
488 = density of steel, lb/cu ft.
If we assume the density of our produced fluids to be 55 lb/cu ft, giving a value or 0.88 for G, then, using Eq. 5:
Br = (0.128)(0.88)(7,830) = 882 lb.
The weight of the rods in fluid, Wrf, is equal to the weight of the rods in air minus the buoyancy effect or:
Wrf = W - Br = 7,830 - 882 = 6,948 lb.
The weight of the fluid column supported by the net plunger area, Fo, is equal to the density of the produced fluid
multiplied by the net plunger area, multiplied by the height of the static fluid level. The net plunger area is equal to
the area of the plunger, minus the area of the rods. The suggested API procedure, however, disregards the area of the
rod in these calculations. We shall do likewise.
Fo = x A x H
= density of fluid, lb/cu ft
A = area of plunger, sq ft
H = fluid level, ft
We may modify this equation by observing that:
= 62.4G

Where D Is measured in Inches. Making these substitutions gives:

For the sample case, G is equal to 0.88, the plunger diameter is 1.06 inches and we assume the static fluid column
height to be equal to the pump depth of 5000 ft. Substituting the above data into Eq. 6b gives:
Fo = (0.34)(0.88)(l.062)(5,000) _ 1,681 lb.
This, then, is the weight of the fluid column.
We may now calculate the first three terms of Eq. 4 to yield a value of 8,629 lb. The maximum polished rod load is
equal to this load plus the effects of the inertial and acceleration forces.
The behavior of the polished rod is very complex and predicting the effect of these latter forces can be difficult. Not
only does the rod string stretch and contract in response to a cyclic motion, which is not simple harmonic, but also to

a crank and pitman motion which is different for each different type of pumping unit. In addition, because of the
elasticity of the sucker rod system, stress waves run up and down the rod in response to the various forces that affect
the rod.
There are several alternatives for including the effect of inertial and acceleration forces in the polished rod loads.
The alternatives are, first, to make simplifying assumptions about the behavior of the rod and the pump motion. This
has often been done in the past but is no longer being done today.
A second option is to use empirical correlations that have been prepared on the basis of many repeated observations
of pump behavior. This is the API design procedure. It is based on the work done at the Midwest Research Institute
where rod pumping systems were simulated on an analog computer. By simulating a wide range of pumping
conditions, the Institute was able to develop correlations which can be used to predict polished rod loads.
A third option that may be used to calculate rod loads is to solve the nonlinear partial differential equations which
represent the behavior of the rod string. Gibbs, originally on his own and later with Neely at Shell Oil Co., solved
these equations in an effort to analyze pump operation rather than pump design (Gibbs, 1963; and Gibbs and Neely,
Their work is based on the use of known values of peak polished rod load at the surface, in order to calculate the
behavior of the pump in the subsurface.
To calculate the peak polished rod load without making simplifying assumptions we shall use the second option, the
one followed in the API design procedure. Because this procedure is fundamental to the design of the surface
pumping system, we should take a few minutes to learn the empirical correlations and the way in which they are
used to calculate polished rod loads and other values needed in our pump design.

Dimensionless Variable Correlations for the API Design Procedure

The experimental work conducted at the Midwest Research Institute on sucker rod pumping, later adopted by the
API, consisted of numerous experiments run on an analog computer simulating a wide range of pump operating
conditions. The results are correlated on the bases of two dimensionless (non-dimensional) variables.
The first variable is the dimension-less pump speed, and the second, the dimensionless rod stretch.

The dimensionless pump speed may have two forms, either



. The first dimensionless

, is equal to the pump speed, N, in strokes per minute, divided by, , the natural frequency of the

string. The alternative dimensionless variable for pump speed is equal to

of the rod string. Note that:

= 1.0 for untapered rod strings > 1.0 for tapered rod strings.
In the event that an untapered rod string is used, the two dimensionless variables are equal.
We may calculate values for these dimensionless variables as follows:

No = natural frequency of the rod string
A = speed of sound in steel rods, ft/min

is the frequency factor

L = rod length, ft.

A is customarily given a value of 16,300 ft/sec or 978,000 ft/min.
When this value is substituted into the dimensionless variable, we obtain:


Values for the frequency factor are found in the API tapered rod string design tables (RP11L, 1988). Note that for a
given or assumed pump speed, rod string length, and frequency factor, a value for each of these dimensionless
variables can be calculated.
Before doing so, we should understand the second dimensionless variable of importance, the dimensionless rod
stretch as Fo/Skr Fo, as mentioned earlier, is the static fluid load in pounds. S is equal to the polished rod stroke
length, in inches, and kr is the spring constant of the rod string. Er, the reciprocal of kr multiplied by the rod length,
L, is also given in the API tapered rod string design tables. Skr represents the load in pounds required to stretch the
rod string the length of the polished rod.
The dimensionless rod stretch term represents the rod stretch caused by the static fluid load, given as a fraction of
the polished rod stroke length.

= rod stretch as a fraction of polished rod stroke length

For example, if the term has a value equal to one, then, the rod string will stretch an amount equal to the length of
the polished rod.
Note here again, that for a known or assumed polished rod stroke length, the value of this dimensionless variable
may be easily calculated.
One word of practicality at this point should be added. It has been observed by a number of specialists that undertravel and over-travel of the pump plunger can be prevented if N/No does not exceed 0.35, and Fo/Skr does not
exceed 0.50.
As a result of the work done at the Midwest Research Institute, five correlations were published and are available in
API RP11L. These five correlations, which rely on the two dimensionless variables for their presentation, are used to
develop systematically the API design procedure for a pumping unit.
The first three correlations affect the rod and downhole pump system, specifically, the plunger stroke length, the
peak polished rod load, and the minimum polished rod load. The last two correlations are used to calculate peak
torque and polished rod horsepower.
Let us learn how these correlations are used by applying them to our example problem. The given data for this
example includes: a fluid level, H, and pump depth, L, of 5,000 ft, a tubing size of 1.9 inches and the tubing is
anchored. An API sucker rod number 75, consisting of 1,350 ft of 7/8-inch rods, 1,375 ft of 3/4-inch rods, and 2,275
ft of 5/8-inch rods is assumed to be sufficient for this design. These grade D rods have a maximum allowable rod
stress of 34,000 psi. The plunger diameter, D, is 1.06 inch, and we assume, for preliminary design purposes, that the
pump speed, N, is 16 strokes/min and that the polished rod stroke length, S, is 64 inches. G, the specific gravity of
the pumped liquid, is 0.88. When we substitute the above data into Eq. 1, using the polished rod stroke length, S, as
an estimate of the pump stroke length, we obtain a pump displacement of:
PD = (0.ll66)(64)(16)(l.06)2=135 B/D.

This quick calculation shows that these data will provide a pump displacement of about 135 B/D. Using inflow
performance calculations, we have estimated production from our example well to be about 100 B/D. The
preliminary design, then, should satisfy the objective of 100 B/D, even when the pump is down for routine
maintenance and lubrication.

Plunger Stroke Correlation

The first correlation shown in Figure 1 , is one which allows us to calculate the plunger stroke length.

Figure 1

On the vertical axis is the term Sp/S, the bottomhole plunger stroke length, divided by the polished rod stroke length.
This ratio reflects the effect of rod stretch on the effective plunger stroke length. On the horizontal axis is the
dimensionless pump speed, N/No, the first dimensionless variable referred to earlier. On the graph are a series of
curves, each for a different value of the second dimensionless variable, Fo/Skr, the dimensionless rod stretch.
Because the values of these two dimensionless variables are known, or can be calculated from the given data, this
correlation may be used to calculate a value for Sp/S.
For the example problem, N/No is calculated as follows:

For the selected tapered rod string, Fc is equal to 1.191, and so:

The dimensionless rod stretch is equal to Fo/Skr. As mentioned earlier, Fo, the weight of the fluid supported by the
rods, is 1,681 lb. S, the polished rod stroke length in inches, is 64, and the reciprocal of kr, is equal to the elastic
constant, Er for our rod string multiplied by its length, L (i.e. 1/kr = ErL). From API manual RPllL, we obtain, Er
Er = 0.997 x 10-6 in/lb ft
and substitute the known value into the relationship for our dimensionless term:

Therefore, with this data, the dimension-less rod stretch is calculated to be 0.13. Note that the values for both N/N 0
and F0/Skr do not exceed the limits of 0.35 and 0.50 mentioned earlier.
With known values for the two dimensionless variables, we turn to the correlation shown in Figure 1 . Starting on
the horizontal axis with a value of N/No equal to 0.274, we move vertically to a point where Fo/Skr equals 0.13.
From that point we move horizontally to the vertical axis to find Sp/S = 0.98.
This term means that, if the tubing is anchored, as it is, the bottomhole plunger stroke length is equal to 98% of the
polished rod stroke length at the surface. Specifically, for a polished rod stroke length of 64 inches, the bottomhole
stroke length will be 62.7 inches.
If the tubing is not anchored, then we must subtract from this plunger stroke length an additional term, which
accounts for the tubing contraction during the upstroke. This term is equal to:
Tubing contraction = Et Fo L
Et = coefficient of elasticity for the tubing, in/1b ft
Fo = weight of fluid on rods, 1b
L = tubing length, ft.
For 1.9-inch tubing, it has a value of 0.5 x 10-6 in/lb ft. With Fo equal to 1,681 lb, and L equal to 5,000 ft, the
plunger stroke length, if the tubing is unanchored, is reduced:
= (0.5 x 10-6)(1,681)(5,000) = 4.2 in.
In this case, the net plunger stroke length would be 58.5 inches.
Subsurface displacement can now be calculated. Using the pump displacement expression developed in Eq. 1 and
assuming that the tubing is anchored, we have:
PD = 0.1l66SpND2 = (O.1l66)(62.7)(16)(1.06)2 = 131 B/D.
This more than meets the expected inflow rate of 100 B/D. In fact, it allows about 20% down-time per day for
maintenance. However, had it not met the production objective, we would need to revise the assumed pump data and
repeat the calculations. Note that to calculate the production rate at the surface, we must incorporate the pump
efficiency considerations mentioned earlier.

Peak Polished Rod Load Correlation

Let us turn now to the second API correlation, one which allows us to calculate the peak polished rod load. It is
shown in Figure 2 and, once again, we see the same dimensionless variables, whose values are known, plotted in the
same general locations.

Figure 2

In this case, the horizontal axis is simply N/No. It is the vertical axis which has now changed. In this case, it is equal
to Fl/Skr. The terms in the denominator are already familiar to us. Their values were calculated earlier. Fl, the only
unknown, is referred to as the peak polished rod load factor, and may be obtained quite easily.
The dimensionless pumping speed, N/No, is equal to 0.326. The dimension-less rod stretch, Fo/Skr, is equal to 0.13.
With these two known values we enter Figure 2 and find a value for Fl/Skr of 0.37.
Because the value of Skr is known it is possible to calculate Fl. Note that Fl is the term that we add to the weight of
rods in the produced fluids to give us a value for the peak polished rod load in pounds. It represents, then, two terms:
the weight of the fluid carried by the rods and the load caused by the inertial-acceleration forces. The peak polished
load, then, is equal to:
PPRL = Wrf + Fl


PPRL = peak polished load, 1b
Wrf = weight of the rods in fluid, 1b
F1 = weight of fluids on rods plus inertial-acceleration forces, lb
Or, in terms of our correlation:


From the sample problem, remember that the weight of the API #75 rod string in the produced fluids was calculated
to be 6,948 lb. The second term is equal to 0.37. All that is needed to calculate PPRL is a value for Skr.
Again, kr, the spring constant for the rod string, is equal to the reciprocal of the coefficient of elasticity of our rod
string, Er, multiplied by the length of rods, L:
1/kr = (Er)(L)
1/kr = (0.997 x 10-6 )(5,000).
Then, taking the reciprocal we obtain:
kr = 200.6.
With a polished rod stroke length, S, of 64 inches, we have:
Skr = (64)(200.6) = 12,838 lb.
We may now calculate the peak polished rod load for our example:

PPRL = 6,948 + (0.37 x 12,838) = 11,698 lb.

This value represents the best estimate of what the load will be, and should be used for design purposes. Under
actual operating conditions it will be different, but should not be significantly different.

Minimum Polished Rod Load Correlation

Now that we know how to calculate the peak polished rod load (PPRL), let us turn to the third API correlation one
which gives us a method for calculating the minimum polished rod load (MPRL).
We remember that the minimum polished rod load occurs just at the beginning of the downstroke, when there is
maximum downward inertial force, and the fluid load is no longer carried by the rods.
In the third correlation, shown in Figure 3 , we see once again that the two dimensionless variables are in the same
relative locations, but now, on the vertical axis, is the term F2/Skr.

Figure 3

F2 is referred to as the minimum polished rod load factor.

Once again, with a value of N/N0 on the horizontal axis of 0.326, and a value of Fo/Skr equals 0.13, we find the
point of intersection on the vertical axis to be at 0.21 ( Figure 3 ). Knowing the value for Skr, we can calculate a
value for F2.
This term, F2, represents the amount that must be subtracted from the weight of the rods in the produced fluids to
give the minimum polished rod load. As such, it represents the inertial and acceleration force at the point of
minimum load. Its calculation proceeds directly parallel to that for the peak polished rod load:

We obtain, then, a minimum polished rod load of 4,252 lb. Once again, it should be noted that this value is used for
design purposes and that its actual value, after installation, may be different.

Selection of Counterweights
The counterweights are used to even out the load placed on the prime mover. Consider what would happen if a
counterbalance effect were not provided at the polished rod. On the upstroke, the prime mover would have to do an
enormous amount of work and an excessive torque would be exerted on the gear reducer. This would require a large
prime mover and a substantial gear reducer. On the downstroke, when the load on the polished rod is substantially
reduced, the prime mover would have little work to do, since the force of gravity pulls the rods and plunger

downward. The counterweights, then, are added to the pumping unit to provide a counterbalance effect at the
polished rod. This, in turn, reduces the size of the prime mover and provides a more even load to the gear box. The
counterweights help the prime mover on the upstroke and, in turn, are lifted on the downstroke.
An estimate of the "ideal" counterbalance effect may be made for design purposes. It is one which will ensure that
the upstroke work of the prime mover is equal to the downstroke work. This also means that the net torque exerted
on the gear reducer will be approximately equal during each half of the pumping cycle. This, then, should be our
design objective. To achieve it we calculate the maximum and the minimum loads on the polished rod during the
pumping cycle and then calculate their mean value. The mean value will be equal to:
Mean value = Wrf + 1/2 Fo
Wrf = weight of rods in fluid, lb
Fo = weight of fluid imposed on rods, lb.
The counterbalance effect needed should be approximately equal to the mean load. For API design purposes,
however, the design value of the counterbalance effect for the conventional pumping unit is slightly larger than this
amount. In fact, it is 1.06 times larger than the mean load.
CBE = (1.06) (Wrf + 1/2 x Fo).
Substituting the data for our sample problem into this equation, we obtain:

This gives a total counterbalance effect of 8,256 1b to be satisfied.

The counterbalance effect is required at the polished rod and it is transmitted there through the effect of the
counterweights acting on the connecting pumping unit members. In order to calculate the size of counterweights
needed to provide the desired counterbalance effect, a force balance around the various contributing structural
members is needed. This will include the effect of the geometry of the unit and its contribution to the counterbalance
effect. This information is provided by the manufacturers. For a given pumping unit, pump stroke length, and
desired counterbalance effect, the manufacturer will specify the types of counterweights to be used and where they
are to be placed on the unit.
The counterbalance effect needed on an operating unit, will be determined by the measurements of the peak and
minimum polished rod loads in the field. The actual counterbalance effect required may then be calculated and the
counterweights adjusted accordingly. For the air balanced unit this simply means that the air pressure in the cylinder
is increased or decreased.

Peak Torque Estimation

Now that the counterbalance effect is understood, let us consider the torque that is imposed on the crank by the low
speed shaft of the gear reducer during the pumping motion. Our design objective is to be sure that the peak torque
does not exceed the limits imposed by the manufacturer.
We remember that torque is equal to the force acting at right angles to a lever arm, multiplied by the length of the
arm. Torque tends to produce rotation at the point of connection. for example, torque is applied to the nut on a tire,
of a car, as you tighten it. The torque, we are particularly interested in, is applied to the crank by the low speed shaft
of the gear reducer (Figure 1 ).

Figure 1

The torque provided by the shaft is transmitted to the crank which, in turn, causes the pump to operate. It must be
sufficient to cause the pump to operate in a continuous manner under normal operating conditions.
It is provided by the prime mover acting through the gear reducer.
The net torque at the gear reducer is equal to the torque caused by the well loads acting on the polished rod, minus
the torque caused by the counterweights acting along the crank. Because the magnitude of these two terms change
during the pumping cycle, the peak torque is defined as being equal to the maximum net torque which occurs during
the pumping cycle.
The net torque imposed on a typical beam pumping unit is shown in Figure 2 and Figure 3 .

Figure 2

Torque is plotted on the vertical axis, with both negative and positive values, and time on the horizontal axis.

Figure 3

The curves show in Figure 2 the rod load and counterweight components of the torque, during one full cycle,
beginning with the upstroke. Notice that the rod load during the upstroke is positive and the counterweight torque is
negative. The maximum value of the first and the minimum value of the second occur about midway through the
upstroke. Then, one begins to decrease and the other increase. They become equal and very close to zero at the top
of the upstroke and, then, reach maximum and minimum points midway through the downstroke. In Figure 3 , we
net the effect of these two components, and we see that the net torque reaches a maximum value (peak torque)
midway through the up and down portions of the stroke. The gear reducer, then, must be designed to accommodate
this peak net torque by an appropriate safety margin. We shall see shortly that manufacturers specify the peak torque
for each pumping unit. The above representation of torque during the pumping cycle is for a conventional unit. It
will be different for the other types of units.
To calculate the peak torque of a pumping unit, we turn, once again, to two additional API correlations shown in
Figure 4 and Figure 5 .

Figure 4

Peak torque is given by the multiple of four terms:

Where: PT = peak torque, lb-in

Figure 5

Ta = torque adjustment factor, fraction

S = polished rod stroke length, in.
With a brief inspection, we see that, for our example problem, the second and the third terms are already known. It is
the first and the fourth that we obtain from the two new correlations.
The peak torque correlation is shown in Figure 4 . Note that the first term in the peak torque equation (Eq. 10) is
shown on the vertical axis. The two familiar dimensionless variables are shown in the same relative positions as they
were in earlier correlations. In this case, the dimensionless pump speed is N/No. Once again, we start from a point
on the horizontal axis equal to 0.326, and move vertically upward to a value of Fo/Skr equal to 0.13. We then move
horizontally to find a value of 0.32 on the vertical axis.
Eq. 10, for our example problem, then, has the following form:
A single unknown, Ta, remains to be determined. Where Wrf/Skr = 0.3, Ta = 1.0, and no further adjustments to the
equation are necessary. Where Wrf/Skr _ 0.3; Ta differs from 1.0. In order to calculate its value under these
conditions, we turn to the fourth API correlation shown in Figure 5 . In this correlation, the familiar dimensionless
variables are found on the vertical and horizontal axis. In this case, the horizontal axis is . Within the chart itself
there are values in percentage ranging from positive values on the outer rim to negative values near the center. for
specific values of the dimensionless variables, we use this chart to find the appropriate percentage.
The value or this percentage is then used to calculate the torque adjustment constant, Ta using the following
equation (Note that all terms are now familiar to us):

Using the specific values for the dimensionless variables that have been used so far, that is, values or 0.274 on the
horizontal axis and 0.13 on the vertical axis, the percentage correction is found to be equal to about +2.5% ( Figure 5
Substituting this value into the equation we find:
When this value is introduced into our relationship for peak torque, we obtain:
PT = (131,465)(1.06) = 139,353 in/lb.
This is the expected peak torque of our operating unit. The shaft of the gear reducer should be able to withstand a
maximum torque of at least this value. We shall see shortly how this design specification is introduced into our
pump unit designation.
The gear reducer, acting through the V-belts, is the pumping system component that transmits the power and the
rotating speed of the prime mover into the power and rotating speed needed by the pumping unit itself. Normally
there are both high speed and low speed gears, and a careful selection of the gear reduction system is a necessary
part of the manufacturers overall design of the pumping unit.

Polished Rod Horsepower Calculations

The API procedure for calculating the polished rod horsepower for the conventional unit is given by the following

PRHP = polished rod horsepower, HP
F3 = PRHP factor, 1b
and the other terms have been defined earlier.
All the terms on the right-hand side, except the first, are either known or may be calculated using data from the
example problem.
We may find a value for the first term by using the final API correlation. It is shown in Figure 1 and we note that it is
similar to the other API correlations. The two familiar dimensionless variables appear in the same relative positions,
and the only new variable appears on the vertical axis.

Figure 1

This variable, also happens to be the first term in the calculation for the polished rod horsepower. To find its specific
value, we enter the horizontal axis at a value for N/No of 0.326 and move vertically upward until a value for Fo/Skr
of 0.13 is reached. We then move horizontally to the left to find a value of F3/Skr of 0.225.
Substituting this value plus the known value of other terms into Eq. 12 yields:
PRHP = (0.223)(12,838)(64)(l6)(2.53 x 10-6) = 7.48 HP
What we really need to know is the nameplate horsepower; that is, the minimum horsepower required to run the
unit. It may be calculated using the following relationship:
HPnp = nameplate horsepower, HP
CLF = cyclic load factor
ES = surface efficiency of pumping unit, fraction
We have Just learned to calculate PRHP, the polished rod horsepower. The cyclic load factor, CLF, represents the
additional reserve power that is needed to handle the cyclic nature of the beam pumping load. For low peak torques
and uniform torque ranges, the cyclic load factor is low, whereas, if the peak torques are high and the range
nonuniform, the cyclic load factor is high.
The prime mover normally recommended for beam pumping units is the NEMA Design D electric motor. For this
unit, the CLF is about 1.375. For NEMA C electric motors and multi-cylinder engines, the CLF will be about 1.897.

These values are for the conventional and air balanced units and will differ for the MARK II ( Table 1 ).

Table 1

The third term in the relationship is the surface efficiency. It is equal to the combined efficiency of the motor and the
mechanical moving parts of the pumping unit, including the wire lines, structural bearings, transmission, gears, gear
box bearing, and the V-belt.
The mechanical efficiency is very likely on the order of 90%. The motor efficiency depends on the motor used, its
operating speed and load variation during a revolution of the crank. The motor manufacturer will provide motor
efficiency information. For the moment let us assume that it is 70%.
ES = (0.9)(0.7) = 0.63.
We may now use this information to calculate the nameplate horsepower for the example problem. We shall assume
that a NEMA D electric motor, with a CLF of 1.375, is installed.
In Table 2 is a list of recommended motor size ranges for API pumping units.

Table 2

In some cases the minimum size connection will be adequate; in other cases, the maximum will be needed. A
number of factors, including polished rod horsepower, torque loading, system voltage, start-up problems and motor
characteristics, will influence motor size. Substituting the known values into Eq. 13 yields:

The nameplate horsepower for the NEMA D motor is found to be 16.3. Note that the motor size is about two times
the polished rod horsepower. Very likely this would mean that you would order a 20 horsepower unit, because
motors come in discrete sizes.
There are a number of alternative ways of calculating the horsepower required for the prime mover. Some of these
have been developed by manufacturers, others by individual oil companies. There may be a specific one that has
been developed for your company. Examples of alternative nameplate horsepower calculations used by one
manufacturer are shown in Table 3 .

Table 3

Rod Stress Calculations

The last calculation that should be done is one that will assure us that the rod stress is not too high. In essence,
maximum rod stress is equal to the peak polished rod load divided by the cross-sectional area of the top rod:

In this case we have a 7/8-in top rod, and so the rod stress is:

This value is well below the previously mentioned maximum allowable stress for the rods.
Now that all the major design variables have been calculated, for the pumping unit, a few words should be said
about the API ratings of pump units and the designations used by the manufacturers.

Design Charts, Tables

Table 1 . Pump Plunger Sizes Recommended for "Optimum" Conditions

Table 1

Figure 1 . graph of Maximum Practical Pump Speeds, Air Balance

Figure 1

Figure 2 . graph of Maximum Practical Pump Speeds, Mark II

Figure 2

Table 2 . Tubing Data

Table 2

Table 3 . Sucker Rod Data

Table 3

Table 4 . Pump Constants

Table 4

1: Suggest three alternative designs, using Rod Nos. 54, 97, 107, for a tapered rod system with a 2.0-inch plunger
diameter, a length of 6,000 ft, a fluid level of 5,000 ft, and a tubing size of 2 3/8-inch. Why would you choose one
over the others?
The following information is available from the tapered rod table of API RPIIL:

Rod No. 54
Rod Size





Rod No. 97
1 1/8-in





Rod No. 107

1 1/4-in


1 1/8





ANS: For a 2-inch plunger and 6,000 ft length, we find the following:
Rod No. 54

Length of each


Rod Size


(Rounding to 25')



4,572 ft

4,575 ft





Rod No. 97
1 1/8-in


1,608 ft

1,625 ft








1 1/4-in


1,362 ft

1,375 ft

1 1/8











Rod No. 107

We would select the rod string that would allow us to use the most economical rods but not create rod stresses which
exceed specifications or rod stretching that would make our pump stroke too short. Therefore, we select rod No. 97.


Field Testing of Pumping Wells
Once we have designed and installed a pumping unit in the field, we would like to be sure that it operates in the
most efficient manner possible. To do this we undertake field tests. The objective of this diagnostic work is to take
measurements during the pump's operation to see whether it is operating under ideal conditions and, if not, to make
appropriate adjustments. Such well tests will have three major objectives:

to make changes in the pumping equipment if the installed unit does not meet field operating conditions;
to improve operating conditions for the unit by making adjustments to pumping speed and stroke length;
to check the downhole pump conditions to be sure that the pump is operating effectively, that there are no
leaks and, for low productivity wells, to be sure that the well is being pumped off.
To understand the diagnostic procedures, we must first develop an understanding of the principles of dynamometry.

Load Versus Displacement Diagrams at the Pump

We shall use the description provided by Gibbs & Neely in a 1966 publication (Gibbs & Neely, 1966). Their
description of pump load versus displacement is for both anchored and unanchored tubing. Typical plots for the
unanchored tubing case are shown in Figure 1 ,

Figure 1

Figure 2 ,

Figure 2

Figure 3 and for the anchored tubing case in Figure 4 .

Figure 3

We shall begin the description with the unanchored tubing case.

Figure 4

These plots are developed step by step. In Figure 1 , we note that the load scale goes as high as 10,000 1b and that
the pump displacement, in feet, has a coordinate system that runs from a point above the top of the subsurface pump
down to the standing valve. When the plunger is at its lowest point, it carries no load and its displacement is 9 ft
from the coordinate to the ground coordinate system, but is stationary with respect to the stretching tubing.
In Figure 3 , as the traveling valve reaches point E, the transfer of the load from the rods to the tubing is almost
complete, but the tubing continues to stretch somewhat. At point F, the entire fluid load is now supported by the
tubing, the tubing has stretched to its greatest length and the plunger now descends with respect to both the ground
and tubing coordinate systems. At this point there is no load on the traveling valve and it continues to descend until
it reaches a displacement position, indicated by point A. The cycle is then repeated.
It seems clear that the load-displacement diagram for an ideal pump will have vertical sides if the tubing has been
anchored, because, in this situation, the tubing would not stretch and contract. The diagram shown in Figure 4 is an
ideal load-displacement diagram for a pump with an anchored tubing.

The Dynagraph
Graphs which show the load versus displacement profile of a pump, as measured at the surface (polished rod load
versus polished rod position) are called dynamometer cards; those which show the profile at the pump depth are
known as dynagraphs. It would be instructive, at this point, to consider several typical dynagraph profiles.
A series of 7 typical dynagraph cards are shown in Figures 1-7. In Figure 1 we interpret that, as the pump begins its
downward stroke, the load is not totally transmitted to the tubing.

Figure 1

Some free gas has been drawn into the pump on the upstroke, so that a period of gas compression occurs on the
downstroke before the traveling valve opens.
In Figure 2 , a gradual but small curvature on the dynagraph on the upstroke indicates

Figure 2

that a small amount of gas, perhaps gas coming out of solution, is causing a degree of compressibility during the
In Figure 3 there is a sharper fall off in load during the downstroke than for the gas compression dynagraph.

Figure 3

This type of response is generally an indication that the well is either nearing or has been pumped-off. Fluid is not
filling the pump chamber and, as the plunger moves down and compresses the gas, there is insufficient pressure
build-up below the traveling valve before the plunger strikes the liquid interface in the lower part of the chamber.
The shock imposed, as the plunger hits the interface and releases the load, is often felt at the surface and indicates
that the well has been pumped-off. It is not always easy to distinguish between a dynagraph card showing gas
compression, and one showing fluid pound.
In Figure 4 the dynagraph indicates that the pump is operating at very low efficiency. In essence, it is gas locked, has
no liquid in its chamber and is simply causing gas to compress and then expand.

Figure 4

A dynagraph of a leaking traveling valve is shown in Figure 5 .

Figure 5

Some movement during the upstroke is required before a full load is taken on and, because it is leaking, the rods
begin to lose load before the pump has reached the top of the upstroke.
A typical dynagraph of a leaking standing valve is shown in Figure 6 .

Figure 6

The leak causes a premature loading of the rods before the beginning of the upstroke, and a delay in unloading the
rods during the downstroke. In essence, the traveling valve closes during the downstroke, causing it to bear some of
the load.
If the last two dynagraphs, Figure 5 and Figure 6 , were combined, the results would look like Figure 7 .

Figure 7

This dynagraph clearly indicates that we have a worn-out pump which is leaking at the traveling valve, at the
standing valve, and probably has excessive plunger slippage. It is time to replace this pump.

The Synthetic Dynagraph

The dynagraph of a well provides a valuable diagnostic tool for analyzing a pumps performance. The difficulty, of
course, is that it requires that we take measurements of pump load versus displacement, say, 3,000-5,000 ft
underground. Gilbert (1936), working in the thirties, developed the procedure for obtaining a dynagraph card at the
pump. The procedure turned out to be very useful and was a forerunner of the well testing procedures used today;
however, it was too cumbersome and time-consuming to run. The alternative procedure that is followed today is
either (a) to make load displacement measurements at the surface -dynamometer cards - and use them to interpret
what is occurring in the subsurface; or, (b) to use the surface measurements and mathematical procedures published
by Gibbs (1963), and later Gibbs and Neely (1966), to develop mathematically derived dynagraphs synthetic
dynagraphs (often referred to as "pump cards").
In developing the second alternative, the authors made it possible to measure loads and displacements at the surface,
and then, by solving the appropriate non-linear partial differential equations, to calculate the required synthetic
Obtaining a synthetic dynagraph is rather direct. The polished rod load versus time ( Figure 1 )

Figure 1

and the polished rod displacement versus time ( Figure 2 ) during a pumping cycle are measured.

Figure 2

These two graphs are then coupled to give a polished rod load versus polished rod displacement profile ( Figure 3
upper right profile). This load-displacement information is called a dynamometer card.

Figure 3

Using the data collected at the surface, the general solution to the appropriate partial differential equations, and a
computer, we are now able to transform the measured surface information to yield the load-displacement profiles at
any point along the rod-pump system. In their paper, the authors showed the load-displacement diagram at the two
points along a tapered rod string where the rod sizes changed ( Figure 3 ).
The first such chart is at a depth of 1,475 ft. The transformation of the dynamometer card to this depth shifts the
position of the curve to lower loads and shorter displacements as expected.
The second transformation gives us a load-displacement at a depth of 3,125 ft.
The third transformation is made for the pump depth of 8,525 ft. This, in essence, is the synthetic dynagraph.
In Figure 4 the scale of the dynagraph has been expanded.

Figure 4

It can be seen that the fluid load is 3,200 lb. The buoyant force on the rods is given by the magnitude of the negative
load on the dynagraph. In this case it is 1,400 lb. Looking at the displacement dimensions, you will notice that the
gross pump stroke is 7.1 ft, but that the net liquid stroke is 4.6 ft.
We observe, then, that the pumping efficiency, based on the relative displacements, is approximately 65% and that
some gas compression is taking place on the downstroke. We also observe that the tubing anchor holds the tubing
quite well during the upstroke. With a knowledge of the pump diameter and the pump speed, we calculate the
displacement at the pump to be 200 B/D . The surface production rate was measured at 184 B/D and 50 no serious
tubing leaks are evident.
With the dynamometer cards, calculated at the top of each tapered rod section, we are able to measure the load on
the top rod of each section, divide it by the rod cross-sectional area, and estimate the respective rod stress. In doing
so we find a peak rod stress of about 30,000 psi, a value which is below rod limitations. For the balance of the
analysis we must use the dynamometer card. Before doing so, we should take a moment to learn how a typical
dynamometer card is interpreted.

The Dynamometer Card and Its Interpretation

In Figure 1 we see a dynamometer card as it may appear shortly after it is recorded at the surface.

Figure 1

In its interpretation we must be concerned with a number of measurements made on the card. The first is C, the
calibration constant in pounds per inch of card height. Each inch of height, then, refers to some calibrated load on
the polished rod. This is determined in the field. D1 is the maximum deflection in inches. D2 is the minimum
deflection in inches. CB is the counterbalance line which is obtained by drawing a line through the dynamometer
card at the point which represents the static load on the polished rod when the crank arm is horizontal. This means
that the unit is stopped and the load on the polished rod is measured with the crank arm at an angle of 90 or 2700
from the 12 oclock position. A1 is the lower area of the card, that is, the area between the lower boundary and the
zero line; A2 is the area within the card shape. Both areas are measured in square inches. Finally, L is the length of
the card, in inches, measured along the horizontal axis from one end of the dynamometer shape to the other. The
left-hand extreme of the card is the bottom of the stroke, and the right-hand extreme is the top of the stroke.
With a dynamometer card for a given rod pump and these definitions, we may make the following diagnostic
Peak polished rod load:


Minimum polished rod load:



Polished rod load range:

C(D1 - D2)
Counterbalance effect:
Actual CBE = CD3


Polished rod horsepower:


The final term to be calculated is the peak torque that exists, under operating conditions, on the gear box. The
approach normally taken in this calculation, is to make use of a term referred to as the torque factor. The torque
factor, TF, is equal to the torque that must be applied at the crankshaft to offset a one pound weight hanging on the
horsehead. Thus, if you must apply a 25 lb torque at the crankshaft to offset a 1 lb weight hung on the horsehead, the
torque factor is 25. The torque factor will differ with different crank angles.
With a value for TF, the net torque calculation, which is a function of the crank angle, can be made by using the
following equation:
Net torque = TF(W-B) - M Sine


W = well load for a given crank angle, lb
B = structural imbalance of pump unit (supplied by manufacturers), lb
N = torque provided by the counterweights, ft-lb
TF = torque factor

= crank angle
Knowing this equation, we may now return to the dynamometer card, insert the crank angle on it for a number of
different values of W and TF, and, by using Eq. 15, make net torque calculations. Note that W is a function of the
crank angle and is measured from the dynamometer card. The torque factor, TF, is supplied by the manufacturer for
a given unit in 150 angles of the crankshaft.
This net torque calculation should provide a curve similar to that shown in Figure 2 .

Figure 2

With it we can read off the peak torque at the maximum point on the curve. It suggests that an adjustment of
counterweights is called for in order to even out the net torque curve. With an adjustment of counterweights, for
example, the second curve is obtained ( Figure 3 ). It is obvious that this is now a more balanced unit.

Figure 3

With the dynagraph, the downhole condition of the pump and its pumping action can be analyzed. With the
dynamometer, those terms that have an
effect on the surface operating condition can be calculated and necessary adjustments to the unit can be made. If the
operation of the subsurface pump and the surface unit are satisfactory, then we must still ask whether production can
be improved by changing the pump stroke length, its speed or its surface control system. Generally, a unit that runs
intermittently is controlled either by a timer, with 15 minute on-off adjustments, or with a pump-off controller. To
maximize production, without damaging the unit, will require careful adjustments in the field. By using the
information available from dynamometer tests taken both before and after pumping changes are introduced, you
should be able to determine whether improved operating conditions have been obtained.
It should be noted that although field units for obtaining synthetic dynagraphs at the well site have now become
available to the industry, this type of test is not yet enjoying widespread use. The alternative, one which has been
followed for many years, is to use the dynamometer card to interpret both the surface and subsurface operation of
the pumping system. As a guide to this type of interpretation the API, in Bulletin l1L2, has published an extensive
set of typical dynamometer cards, categorized according to the dimensionless variables used in the pump design


Figure 1

The dynamometer cards, shown in Figure 1 were obtained during texts on five problem wells. State the most
obvious cause of poor performance in each case.

ANS: Dynamometer cards obtained during tests on five problem wells.

Figure 1


Major Advantages of Hydraulic Pump Systems
Before completing this portion of the module, it should be helpful for us to list the major advantages and
disadvantages of hydraulic pumping systems. The advantages are:

Hydraulic pumps can produce from relatively small to large rates, typically
135 to 15,000 B/D, from great depths. The deepest recorded installations at a
depth of 18,000 ft.
Unlike the rod pump system, the hydraulic pump system can be used
effectively in crooked or deviated wells.
Pump speed can be easily varied to accommodate changing inflow
With a free pump, we can retrieve the pump easily. Maintenance, therefore,
is easily accomplished and new pumps of the same or different size may be
installed as needed.
Because wellheads and surface facilities are compact, hydraulic pumping
systems are ideal for offshore or urban production sites.
Chemicals may be added to the power fluid, especially in OPF systems, to
protect tubing and casing from corrosion.
If very limited volumes of free gas are pumped, the hydraulic pump system
has the highest efficiency of any of the artificial lift systems.

Some of the major disadvantages of this pump system include:

Power oil systems are a fire hazard.
High solids production is troublesome.
Oil inventory required for power oil system reduces profitability.
Where gas is not vented there is a loss of efficiency difficult for field personnel to troubleshoot.
Some installations require two strings of tubing.
Treating scale below packer is difficult.
Problems may develop in treating power water.
With the procedures that we have covered so far, you are now in a position to prepare your own system design,
whether it be for a single- or multi-well system. The next step is for you to undertake such a design.

Operation of the Subsurface Hydraulic Pump

In its simplest form, the subsurface hydraulic pump consists of a closely coupled, reciprocating engine and pump
( Figure 1 ).

Figure 1

The unit is installed below the working fluid level in a well. High-pressure power fluid flows from the surface to the
hydraulic pump through one conduit and the spent power fluid and production are returned to the surface through
one or more additional conduits. The high-pressure power fluid causes the engine-end of the pump to reciprocate
much like a steam engine. The pump-end of the pump, which is driven by the engine, pumps the fluid to the surface.
There are many different types of hydraulic pumps. Each is unique in its design and operation. For simplicity, we
shall show how the Kobe Type A pump operates. Figure 2 is a schematic of this subsurface hydraulic pump with the

engine-end of the pump shown above and the pump-end of the pump shown below.

Figure 2

Although both ends of the pump operate in tandem, it will be easier to understand how it operates if we first
understand the operation of the engine-end of the pump.
In Figure 3 we see the engine-end of the pump at the beginning of its downstroke.

Figure 3

Fresh power fluid is beginning to enter the cylinder above the piston and spent power fluid is beginning to be
exhausted from the lower part of the engine cylinder.
The piston is at the top of the cylinder and the downstroke is beginning. Note that there is a rod attached to the
piston which extends above it into the power fluid and below it to the pump-end of the pump. The upper end of the
rod is designed to control the direction of flow of power fluid, while the lower end of the rod causes the pump-end
of the unit to pump fluids to the surface.
In Figure 4 we see that the piston has moved downward within the engine cylinder.

Figure 4

Note that the rod above the piston, referred to as the valve rod, has two smaller diameter sections. One is just above
the piston, the other is at its upper end. These two sections provide the control for both the power fluid movement
and the stroke length of the pump. Stroke length, for example, is accurately determined by the distance between the
reduced diameter sections on the valve rod.
In Figure 5 the piston has reached the bottom of its travel within the engine cylinder and the upper, reduced diameter
section of the valve rod allows power fluid to be ported below the engine valve.

Figure 5

The engine valve now has the same pressure applied to both its top and bottom surfaces. However, because the
bottom of the valve has the larger area, a larger force is applied to the bottom of the valve and it begins to move
upward. In doing so, it opens and closes ports, thereby reversing the direction of the flow of the power fluid within
the engine ( Figure 6 ). This causes the piston to reverse direction and begin its upstroke.

Figure 6

In Figure 7 we see that the piston has moved upward in the cylinder.

Figure 7

The reduced diameter section of the valve rod, just above the piston, is about to enter the engine housing. As the
piston reaches the end of its upstroke ( Figure 8 ), the reduced diameter section of the valve rod provides a fluid
connection from a point beneath the engine valve to a lateral port within the engine housing.

Figure 8

This lateral port is connected to the low-pressure side of the engine. Because the power fluid below the engine valve
is now at a lower pressure than at the upper end of this valve, the forces are such that the valve moves downward
and, once again, reverses the flow of the power fluid ( Figure 3 ). With the valve in its new position, the piston once
again begins its downstroke. The cycles are repeated so long as power fluid, under appropriate pressure, is pumped
into the well.
As the piston in the engine-end of the pump reciprocates, the connecting rod causes the piston in the pump-end of
the pump also to reciprocate ( Figure 2 ). This rod movement, in turn, causes produced fluids to be pumped to the
surface. Let us focus, for a moment, on what occurs during the cycle in the pump-end of the pump.
We see in Figure 9 that the pump-end of the pump has a set of intake and exhaust valve balls at each end of the

Figure 9

On the downstroke, formation fluids enter the cylinder above the piston through the upper intake valve and are
pumped out of the cylinder, below the piston, through the lower exhaust valve.
On the upstroke ( Figure 9 ), the valve positions are reversed and produced fluids now flow into the lower part of the
cylinder and are exhausted from the upper part of the cylinder. Pumping of produced fluids, then, takes place during
both halves of the cycle. The opening and closing of valves and the pumping of produced fluids continues cycle
after cycle with the engine-end and pump-end of the pump acting together.

Free and Fixed Type Pumps

Most hydraulic pumps are installed in the well as free pumps. That is, the pump is circulated into the well by
pumping power fluid down the normal power fluid conduit, and retrieved from the well, when required, by reverse
circulation of the power fluid ( Figure 1 ).

Figure 1

The unit is pumped into the well with the standing valve closed. It seats on the bottom, with the standing valve held
open by a magnet, ready for operation. To retrieve the pump, power fluid is reverse-circulated down the return line,
causing the pump to unseat and travel to the surface.
In addition to a free pump, we may also have a fixed pump. In this case the pump is connected to the power fluid
tubing and lowered into the hole. The power fluid tubing must be pulled in order to retrieve the pump.

Down hole Installations

There are several downhole installations possible for a subsurface hydraulic pumping system. We should point out,
at the outset, that hydraulic pumps may be adapted to almost any tubing arrangement. If the tubing will fit into the
casing, then a pump can be found for the well. Pumps, for example, are available to fit inside tubing ranging in size
from 1 1/4-inch ID to 4 1/2-inch OD.
There are four basic types of downhole tubing arrangements that are commonly used: for the fixed pump, there is the
fixed inset pump and, the fixed casing pump; for the free pump, there is the parallel free pump, and the casing free
pump. Each may have either an OPF or CPF system. Let us look at an example of each.
In Figure 1 we see the tubing arrangement for a fixed insert pump with an open power fluid system.

Figure 1

Note that the power fluid enters the pump through the power fluid line and that the spent power fluid and production
are commingled and produced up the annulus between the power fluid line and the tubing. Gas is vented up the
casing-tubing annulus.
In the fixed casing pump ( Figure 2 ), the spent power fluid and production travel upward between the power fluid
line and the casing.

Figure 2

In this arrangement, any formation gas must be handled by the pump, or a separate tubing string must be installed to
vent the gas from beneath the packer. Venting is normally required for wells with high GORs producing below the
bubble point ( Figure 3 ). Large pumps, say with an OD of 3 13/16 inches, are normally installed in this type of
casing pump.

Figure 3

In Figure 4 we see the parallel free pump arrangement with a closed power fluid system.

Figure 4

There are three parallel conduits within the pump: one for delivering power fluid, one to deliver the spent power
fluid back to the surface, and one to deliver the production to the surface. Gas is vented through the casing. Because
this is a free pump, the pump is unseated for retrieval by reverse-circulating raw production. This causes some
produced fluids to contaminate the power fluid system but normally not enough to cause serious operating problems.
Installation of multiple strings can be made by running strings simultaneously clamped together using a vertical set
packer or running strings separately in. the casing-tubing annulus and stabbing into a suitable connecting bowl
socket. The size of free pump that may be installed depends on the casing size and the tubing combination used.
Table 1 gives some typical downhole arrangements.

Table 1

In Figure 5 we see an example of a casing-free pump with an open power fluid system. The commingled power fluid
and production are produced up the casing-tubing annulus.

Figure 5

Because of its low cost, this is the most common form of hydraulic pump installation. Note that all free gas must be
handled by the pump unless a special vent line is installed to vent the gas from below the packer. The pump is
retrieved by reverse-circulating the commingled production and spent power fluid. This will contaminate some of
the fresh power fluid but, because it is soon commingled with production anyway, it does not pose an operating
These, then, are the four common hydraulic pump arrangements. Note that it is possible to have two pumps
operating in tandem. This doubles the capacity of the equipment while using a single power fluid source.
Alternatively, it is possible to have tandem engines with a single pump and tandem engines with tandem pumps. It is
also possible to hydraulically pump both zones of a dually-completed well. In such a case, we normally use two
separate power fluid tubes because each will probably require different operating-speeds and power fluid surface
pressures. Finally, we should add that, where a downhole safety valve is needed, it is possible to install one between
the packer and the pump ( Figure 6 ).

Figure 6

The actuating pressure for the safety valve is the high-pressure line of the power fluid. If a critical event occurs at
the surface, the power fluid pressure will drop and the safety valve will close, preventing any further production.

Surface Facilities
Let us now turn to the surface facilities. We shall begin with the power fluid system. The least complicated surface
system will be one that has a closed power fluid system ( Figure 1 ).

Figure 1

In this case, the spent power fluid returns from the various hydraulically-pumped wells and enters the power fluid
tank at its base. Power fluid going to wells is drawn off near the top of the tank. A tank inlet for power fluid makeup, very likely coming from the surface processing facilities, would also be a part of the system.
It should be realized that the power fluid in a closed system does become contaminated over time from the collection
of solid particles within the system and from the products of corrosion. For this reason, the returning power fluid, for
an oil system, must be allowed to settle in the power fluid settling tank. To be effective the upward velocity of power
fluid oil in the tank should be less than one foot per hour. This provides a form of continuous cleaning. From time to
time, the tank bottoms are removed. When water is selected as the power fluid, filters, rather than a settling tank,
may be used for the cleaning process.
In the case of an isolated well or temporary operations, it is possible to have a single well installation ( Figure 2 ).

Figure 2

The simplest system consists of a small surge tank with sufficient volume to allow settling, sufficient pressure to
charge the surface pump (20-100 psi), and a make-up pump to maintain a fluid level. If the well has a free pump,
then the tank should contain 2-3 times the tubing volume to permit retrieving and running the pump.
For the open power fluid system ( Figure 3 ), the settling tank arrangement is somewhat different because produced
crude oil is normally used as the power fluid.

Figure 3

It enters the power fluid system from the separator or treater and usually flows first into a gas boot. The gas boot
removes the last traces of gas from the treated oil. Gas flows out the top of the boot to the gas collection system and
dead oil flows from the bottom of the boot into the power oil settling tank. Production, going to the stock tanks, is
drawn off at the vertical mid-point of the settling tank, through an outside riser that is designed to keep the tank full.
The power oil is drawn off near the upper part of the settling tank. Thus, most of the settling takes place between the
point where production is drawn off and the point where power oil is drawn off. Some lighter solids, then, may be
drawn off with the production, and heavier particles settle to the bottom of the tank, where they must be removed
from time to time. In order to be effective, the power oil tank should be sized to allow the upward velocity in the top
half of the tank to be less than two feet per hour. This velocity should be lower for heavier oils. As we mentioned
earlier, if brine is used as the power fluid, chemicals must be added in order to provide for lubrication of the pump,
corrosion inhibition, and oxygen scavenging.
The next component of our surface system is the surface pump. Surface pumps normally used for power fluid
operations are supplied by the hydraulic pump manufacturer. Most pumps are skid-mounted and have either an
electric motor or gas engine as the prime mover. In Figure 1 , for example, we see a Kobe Triplex pump. Other types
of pumps, including the duplex, quintuplex units, may also be used.

Figure 1

Units normally range in size from 12-180 hp.

In addition to the surface pump, the pump system will include a relief valve, pressure gauges, and safety switches.

Figure 1c

The next item in our surface system is the control manifold ( Figure 1a , Figure 1b , and Figure 1c .). These multiwell distribution manifolds are normally supplied by the pump manufacturers. Typically they are made in modular
header sections that can be added to as needed. This type of manifold usually contains pilot-operated control valves
that maintain a constant volume of power fluid going to each well regardless of pressure changes in the system. A
backpressure regulator is also used to maintain a constant pressure at the surface. Meters and pressure gauges for
each well are usually installed at this point. It is at the control manifold that we normally undertake downhole pump
speed control, pressure checks, engine-end efficiency checks, and other troubleshooting activities.
The last component in our surface system is the wellhead itself.
The wellhead for the fixed pump must be designed to accommodate the power fluid and return lines. The wellhead
for the free pump, on the other hand, is a little more complicated. It must allow for the power fluid movement during
pump installation and retrieval, a means of catching and holding the pump and safety device to prevent highpressure from being applied to the casing. The four-way valve ( Figure 2 ) at the surface will meet all of these needs.
A high pressure lubricator is placed on top of the four-way valve for circulating the pump under pressure.

Figure 2

Before we discuss a specific application for the design of a hydraulic pump system, please take a few minutes to be
sure you understand what we have covered so far.

1: Describe, with illustrations, how the subsurface hydraulic pump operates.

ANS: A subsurface hydraulic pump is a closely coupled reciprocating engine and pump. In the engine-end of
the pump, high-pressure power fluid is directed to the engine through one conduit. The high-pressure power fluid
causes the engine to reciprocate much like a steam engine except that the power fluid is oil or water instead of
steam. A rod, which runs from the engine-end to the pump-end of the pump, in turn, causes a piston in the pump-end
to reciprocate, thereby causing produced fluids to be pumped to the surface. Both pump-ends are double acting. The
power fluid returns to the surface either separate from or commingled with the produced fluids.
Figure 1 Subsurface Hydraulic Pump.

Figure 1

2: Draw the surface and subsurface components of a hydraulic pumping system with an OPF system and a casingfree pump.


Figure 1

Figure 1 - Open Power Fluid (OPF) System - is a schematic diagram of the surface and subsurface components of a
hydraulic pumping system.
Figure 2 - OPF Casing-Free Pump Installation - shows the installation of a casing-free pump with an OPF system.

Figure 2


Design Applications
Now that we understand the make-up and operation of the hydraulic pumping system, let us turn our attention to the
design of such installations for specific applications. There are seven basic considerations:

whether we should have an OPF or a CPF power fluid system;

whether we should vent or pump any produced gas;
the downhole tubing arrangement to be used;
the downhole pump will fit the selected tubing arrangement and satisfy the wells expected inflow
performance characteristics;
whether to install a central or wellsite power plant;
the size and type of power fluid surface pump required;
the power fluid cleaning system to be installed

Selection of Power Fluid System

Let us discuss each in order. The first consideration is whether we should have an open or closed power fluid
system. It seems clear that we would use a closed power fluid system if the surface space at a townsite location or an
offshore platform, is limited, or if ecological or cosmetic factors are important. The use of water as the power fluid
will minimize the hazards of leaks, reducing environmental pollution or fire problems. Water will most likely require
more expensive pumps and the addition of chemicals to the power water. If none of these factors is important, then
an open power fluid system should be selected. Unless there are other considerations, oil will generally be selected
as the power fluid in order to avoid the cost of continuously adding chemicals to the water.

Whether to Pump or Vent the Produced Gas

Out next consideration is whether to vent or pump the produced gas. When we analyze this option, we observe that
the lowest cost downhole installations are those where the gas is pumped along with the liquid production. Unless it
seriously reduces the subsurface pump efficiency, then, we prefer to pump the produced gas. As you might expect, it
is not efficient to pump produced fluids where there is both a low bottomhole pressure and a high gas-liquid ratio.
For example, if a well has a flowing bottomhole pressure of 400 psi, a GOR of 500 scf per barrel, a water cut of
20%, and an API gravity of 40, then we find in Figure 1 that the pump efficiency is 30%.

Figure 1

This is a very low efficiency. In general, we may conclude that if the pressure is below 400 psi and the GOR is 500
or above, we should plan to vent the gas. Expressed in a different way, if the pump efficiency, because of the
pressure of gas, is low (30%-50%), the gas should be vented. The only alternative is to determine whether we can
meet the desired production rate by increasing the bottomhole pressure, thereby holding more gas in solution. The
IPR must be consulted.

Selecting the Pump

Once we have decided upon an open or closed power fluid system and whether or not to vent the gas, we must turn
to the pump manufacturers catalogs to select a pump which will satisfy the expected inflow performance of the
well. If the tubing has already been purchased or is otherwise available (its size is known), the downhole pump must
be selected to fit this tubing size. If the tubing has not yet been purchased, then we have a greater flexibility in
specifying the downhole pump size.
Many pumps have single engine and single pump-ends, while others have tandem engines with single pumps,
tandem pumps with single engines, and tandem pumps with tandem engines.

In Figure 1 , for example, is a schematic and in Table 1 are the specifications for Kobe Type A pumps.

Figure 1

The Kobe Type A pump has a single engine and single piston.

Table 1

Let us define a few of the terms in the table. In the first column is a description of the pump size. It consists of three
numbers. The first refers to the nominal diameter of the pump, the second to the engine piston diameter, and the
third to the pump piston diameter. For example, the first pump listed in the table has a nominal diameter of 2 inches,
an engine piston diameter of 1 inch, and a pump piston diameter of 1 3/16 inch. Remember that a nominal diameter
indirectly specifies the tubing diameter. For example, a nominal pump diameter of 2 1/2 inches will fit a 2 7/8-inch
OD tubing.
The second column in Table 1 is the P/E ratio. Values range from about 0.5 to 1.5. This ratio is, in effect, the net
cross-sectional area of the piston in the pump-end of the pump divided by the net cross-sectional area of the piston
in the engine-end of the pump. It is a pump design ratio which will vary according to pump size and type. We shall
soon see that a design factor that must be taken into account when we determine the required volume and pressure of
the power fluid. Generally, we limit the surface pressure of our power fluid to a maximum of 5000 psi, and, under
these conditions, the following "rule of thumb" equation may be used:

For example, if the net lift for our fluids is 7000 ft, then:

If we were to select a pump, then, which has a P/E that is larger than this value, we would be violating the 5000 psi
limitation on the power fluid surface operating pressure and not have the right pump for the specific application.
Bear in mind that the value of P/E for a pump depends on the design of the pump. The maximum P/E for our
installation is determined by the design of the power fluid system. We shall discuss this ratio again shortly.
For the first Kobe Type A pump listed in Table 1 we see that P/E = .545. It does not violate the maximum P/E ratio
for a 7000 ft net lift. The next three columns all refer to displacement volumes. The first is the displacement of the

pump, operating continuously at 100% efficiency, in B/D. For this pump it is 139 B/D. The next two columns
specify the displacement volumes of both the engine-end and the pump-end of the pump in barrels per day per stroke
per minute (B/D per SPM). Thus, the engine-end of the pump has a displacement of 2.15 B/D per SPM and the
pump-end of the pump has a displacement of 1.15 B/D per SPM. If both ends of the pump are operating at 100%
displacement efficiency, we see that approximately twice the volume of power fluid is needed to pump a given
volume of produced fluid. For this specific pump (single engine and single pump) it turns out that the ratio of the
pump-end displacement divided by the engine-end displacement is equal to the P/E ratio.
The last column represents the maximum rated speed for the pump in strokes per minute. For the first pump in the
table, this value is 121 SPM. If we multiply this value by the pump-end displacement in B/D per SPM, we obtain the
displacement of the pump, that is, 139 B/D.
Let us use what we have just learned to select a pump to satisfy a specific application. We are asked to find a pump
which will satisfy the following conditions:

Required displacement = 450 B/D

Net lift = 7000 ft
Tubing size = 2 7/8-inch OD

We first note that, using Eq. 1:

For this example, we will use the Kobe Type A pump specifications given in Figure 2 .

Figure 2

To do so we enter the table at a nominal pump size of 2 1/2 inches which will fit our 2 7/8-inch OD tubing.

We see that there are six possible pumps which might be used. None of them has a value of P/E ratio exceeding
1.43, although one of them is just at this value. Looking at the displacement column, we see that the capacities of the
first two of the six pumps do not meet the desired displacement rate and so we are left to select a pump from the
lower four. Under these circumstances, we normally select the pump with the lowest value of P/E ratio, because it is
the pump that should require the lowest surface operating pressure for the power fluid. We would select the fifth
pump in the table. It has a 1 7/16-inch engine-end piston diameter, a 1 1/4-inch pump-end piston diameter, a value
for P/E of 0.7, a maximum displacement of 492 B/D, an engine-end displacement of 7.13 B/D per SPM, and a
pump-end displacement of 4.92 bbl per day per SPM. Its maximum rated speed is 100 SPM.

Estimating the Required Power Fluid Volumes and Actual Pump Displacement
Once we have selected our pump, there are several more design decisions that must be made. First, we must ask
whether the pump selected, operating at an efficiency which will certainly be less than 100%, will cause the
produced fluids to be pumped at a rate equal to the inflow performance of the well. If not, we must select another
pump. Second, we must design the power fluid system so as to provide power fluid at the engine-end of the pump at
a rate and pressure sufficient to cause the pump to operate under the desired conditions. In essence, then, we must
calculate the actual pump-end and engine-end displacement volumes.
We begin by making estimates of the pump-end and the engine-end efficiencies. When a pump is new, the pump-end
efficiency is typically 90% and the engine-end efficiency is about 95%. This is usually the case, assuming that we
are not pumping a large fraction of free gas.
As the pump becomes used, the pump-end efficiency, Ep, can drop to 70% or lower, and the engine-end efficiency,
Ee, to about 80%.
Using the 2 1/2-inch Kobe Type A pump from our sample exercise and two assumed values of efficiency, we may
calculate the actual production that will be pumped to the surface and the required power fluid volume needed to
accomplish such pumping. We know that the pump-end displacement at 100% efficiency is 492 B/D. The
displacement rate at the engine-end of the pump is 7.13 B/D per SPM; at the pump-end it is 4.92 B/D per SPM. We
shall assume an engine-end efficiency, Ee, of 90%, and a pump-end efficiency, Ep, of 80%. If gas is being pumped,
then the pump-end efficiency value determined from Figure 3 should be incorporated into an overall pump-end

Figure 3

With these efficiency values, we may first calculate the actual production passing through the pump. We see that it is
equal to:
q = Ep (PD)
Ep = pump-end efficiency, fraction
PD = pump-end displacement at 100% efficiency
q = 0.8 (492) = 393.6 B/D


This, then, is the upper limit on the ability of the pump to produce fluid. If our inflow performance indicates that
more than this volume should be produced, then a larger pump should be selected. If, however, a lower volume is
expected, then the selected pump can be operated at less than maximum speed.
Let us assume, based on our inflow performance calculations, that the expected production rate is 325 B/D. The
required speed of our pump will be:

S = required speed, SPM
Smax = maximum pump speed, SPM

With this information, we can now calculate the volume of power fluid that will be required to produce this level of
production. The power fluid volume required will be equal to:

qpf = actual throughput of power fluid, B/D
ED = engine-end displacement of 100% efficiency, B/D per SPM
S = required pump speed, SPM
Ee = engine-end efficiency, fraction
ED = 7.13 B/D per SPM
S = 82.6 SPM
Ee = 0.9

This means that, in using this pump, we shall need 654 B/D of power fluid in order to displace through the pump
325 B/D of production.
So far we have considered whether we should have an open or closed power fluid system, whether to vent or pump
the produced gas, how to select a pump which will meet our expected inflow production rate and, for the selected
pump, how to estimate the volume of power fluid required. We must still specify the power fluid operating pressure
and the surface design. Before doing so, please work an exercise that will allow you to become familiar with the
different types of pumps available from suppliers.

Power Fluid Operating Pressure

The next step in the system design procedure for a hydraulic pumping system is to calculate the pressure required at
the surface for our power fluid system. This pressure specified must be so as to deliver sufficient pressure and
volume at the pump-end of the pump to meet design conditions. In order to calculate this surface operating pressure,
pS, we must perform a force balance around the flowing system. Figure 1 is a schematic of an OPF system showing
the various terms that are necessary to undertake a pressure analysis.

Figure 1

Beginning at the surface and moving around the system, we identify the following pressure terms:
ps = surface operating pressure, psi
F1 = frictional pressure losses in power fluid tubing, psi
G1 = hydrostatic gradient in power tubing, psi/ft
p1 = inlet pressure at engine-end, psi
p2 = pressure at outlet of engine-end, psi
Fp = frictional pressure losses in pump, psi
p4 = inlet pressure at pump-end, psi
p3 = pressure at outlet of pump-end, psi
G3 = hydrostatic gradient in production tubing, psi/ft
F3 = frictional pressure loss in production tubing, psi
pFL = backpressure on produced fluids, psi

h1 = pump setting depth, ft

h4 = pump submergence (i.e. depth to which it is submerged in liquid), ft
G4 = hydrostatic gradient of liquid in well, psi/ft
We may now begin our analysis. First, we note that:
p1 = ps + h1G1 - F1
Second, we note that:
p2 = p3
Third, we observe that:
p2 = pFL + h1G3 + F3
Fourth, we observe that:
p4 = h4G4
Alternatively, of course, p4 is the bottomhole pressure at the pump under operating conditions.
In looking at these relationships, we realize that, in order to calculate the pressure at any point in our system, we
must have a relationship which relates p1 to p2 and another which relates p3 to p4. To obtain such a relationship, let
us look at the forces acting on the pistons of a Kobe Type A pump during the downstroke. We see in Figure 2 , the
cross section of the engine- and the pump-ends of the pump with the area of each section and the pressure applied to
each during both the upstroke and downstroke.

Figure 2

The forces on the various parts during the downstroke may be calculated as follows:

p1AR + p1(AE - AR) - p2(AE - AR)

At the pump-end of the pump, because of the valve port system, the following downward forces exist:
p4(AP - AR) - p3(AP - AR) - p1AR
AR = area of rod, sq in
AE = area of engine piston, sq in
Ap = area of pump piston, sq in
Note that because the diameter of the pistons are the same at both ends of the Kobe Type A pump, the net areas are
the same. Also, because the rod has a hollow tube passing through it, which connects to a balance tube below the
pump, the area of the rod at its lower extremity is exposed to pressure p1, and therefore an upward force equal to
p1AR is imposed. To these pressure terms, we must also add the pressure losses caused by pump friction, F p.
For the downstroke of the Kobe Type A pump, then, we may incorporate Eqs. 9 and 10 and end up with the
following relationship:

We observe that the ratio of areas is actually equal to the net pump-end area divided by the net engine-end area. This
happens to be our familiar P/E ratio and so we substitute it into this equation.
p1 - p2 - (p3 - p4) (P/E) - Fp = 0
Because of the design of the Kobe Type A pump, the equation for the upstroke will be identical to this one. The
magnitude of Fp, the pressure losses due to friction within the pump, will depend upon the type of pump being used,
the viscosity at pump depth, of both the power fluid and the produced fluid, and the densities of these fluids.
The viscosity (in centistokes) to be used for the power fluid may be obtained from Figure 3 if the power fluid is
water, or from Figure 4 if crude oil.

Figure 3

Figure 4

We may now combine Eqs. 5 to 8 and 12. Through suitable substitution we end up with the following expression for
ps, the pressure required at the surface for an OPF system:
ps = (h1G3 + F3 + pFL)(1 + P/E) - h4G4 (P/E) + Fp + F1 - h1G1
All of the terms in this relationship have been defined earlier.


Let us apply this relationship to our sample exercise in order to learn what the surface operating pressure of our
power fluid must be. We have calculated or have been provided the following data:
Flow rate data:
q = 325 B/D
S = 82.6 SPM
qpf = 654 B/D
water cut = 10%
P/E = 0.7
Fluid properties:
oil gravity = 40 API

sg = 0.825
= 0.357 psi/ft
produced water
specific gravity = 1.07
= 0.463 psi/ft
Subsurface and Pressure Data:
h1 = 7000 ft
h4 = 2000 ft
pFL = 50 psi
bottomhole temp = l60 F
installation = Kobe Type A Pump with 2 7/8-inch OD power tubing
and 2 3/8-inch OD production tubing.
We are told that the produced oil is used as the power fluid. Thus, we know that the gradient of the power fluid, G1,
will also be equal to 0.357 psi/ft. The gradient of the wellbore fluids, G4, is assumed to be the weighted average of
the produced oil and water. In this case, because we have a 10% water cut, we calculate G 4 to be equal to 0.368
psi/ft. Because we have an OPF system, we assume the pressure gradient of production, G3, to be equal to the
weighted average of the power fluid gradient and the produced fluid gradient. The power fluid, produced at the rate
of 654 B/D, has a gradient of 0.357 psi/ft and the wells production of 325 B/D has a gradient of 0.368 psi/ft. This
yields a weighted average of 0.361 psi/ft. Thus:
G1 = 0.357 psi/ft
G3 = 0.361 psi/ft
G4 = 0.368 psi/ft.
With this known data, we may now substitute values into Eq. 13 and obtain:
pS = 1366.7 + 1.7 F3 + F1 + Fp
We see that there are still three unknowns: F3, the pressure loss caused by friction in the production tubing; F1, the
pressure loss caused by friction in the power fluid tubing; and Fp, the frictional pressure losses in the subsurface
pump. We need to calculate values for each of these.
The correlations given in Figure 4 may be used with crude oil as the power fluid, having a gravity of 40 API. We
estimate its viscosity at downhole conditions from Figure 4 to be 1.8 centistokes. For the Kobe Type A pump
operating at 82.6% of its rated speed:
F = (580 psi) (spec. grav. of crude) (580)(.825) 478 psi
Correlations for calculating the frictional pressure losses during the vertical flow of power fluid in the power fluid
tubing and the production in either tubing or annular conduits may be used to estimate values for both F1 and F3
provided the GOR is low. If the GOR is high, two-phase flow correlations should be used. With these correlations
and information on the size of tubing or annulus used for both power fluid and production, the rate of flow through
each and the viscosity of the fluids flowing, we may calculate both frictional pressure loss terms.
For this specific example, we assume that we obtain friction pressure losses of F1=12.6 psi and F3=63 psi from
published flow correlations.

With these values, we can return to Eq. 14 to calculate the power fluid surface operating pressure, pS.
pS = 1366.7 + 1.7(63) + 12.6 + 478 - 1964 psi
We note that this is significantly less than the maximum recommended value of 5000 psi. We now know that for our
OPF system, the power fluid must be injected at a surface pressure of 1964 psi and at a rate of 654 B/D.

Calculation of the Surface Operating Pressure for a Closed Power Fluid System
Calculation of the Surface Operating Pressure for a Closed Power Fluid System
The calculation of the surface operating pressure, ps, for the CPF system is calculated in a manner similar to that for
the OPF system.
A schematic of a CPF system is given in Figure 1 .

Figure 1

Note that there are separate lines for the power fluid injection, power fluid return and production. The variables
referenced in the Figure are defined as follows:
ps = surface operating pressure, psi
F1 = frictional pressure losses in power fluid tubing, psi
G1 = fluid pressure gradient in power fluid tubing, psi/ft

pPR = surface pressure of power fluid return line, psi

F2 = frictional pressure losses in power fluid return line, psi
pFL = surface backpressure on produced fluids, psi
F3 = frictional pressure losses in production tubing, psi
G4 = fluid pressure gradient in production tubing, psi/ft
p1 = pressure at inlet to pump-end of pump, psi
p2 = pressure at outlet of pump-end, psi
p3 = pressure at outlet of engine-end, psi
p4 = pressure at inlet of pump-end, psi
h1 = pump setting depth, ft
h4 = pump submergence depth, ft
Fp = frictional pressure loss in pump, psi
We may now write the equations that govern the flowing system:
p1 = pS + h1G1 - F1


p2 = pPR + h1G1 + F2


p3 = pFL + h1G4 = F3


p4 = h4G4


From the above equations, we note that the pressure available to drive the engine is p1, the total pressure that the
engine must discharge against is p2, the pump end is filled by p4 and discharges against p4.
In order to obtain an equation that will relate the four different pressures, we undertake a force balance, during the
upstroke and downstroke, over the specific pump that is to be used. Using the Kobe Type A pump, for example, we
developed in the manual, Equation 12 which is applicable for both the up- and downstroke! It is reproduced below
as Eq. C-S.
p1 - p2 - (p3 - p4) (P/E) - Fp = 0


P/E = ratio of the net pump-end piston area to the net engine-end piston area
Substitute the expressions for p1, p2, p3 and p4 for Eqs. C-l to C-4 into Eq. C-S and then solving for pS gives:
pS = F1 + F2 + pPR + Fp + [(h1 - h4) G4 + F3 + pFL] P/E
Solving Eq. C-6 for a specific example will give the required power fluid surface operating pressure, P S, required to
drive the pump under design conditions for a CPF system.
We should apply this equation to an example substantially similar to that used in the manual for the OPF system.
The specific data given is:
Pump Data:
Power fluid rate = 654 B/D
Production rate = 325 B/D

Production = 10% water cut

Pump Speed = 82.6 SPM
P/E = 0.7
Fluid Data:
Oil (power fluid + production) = 40 API
= 0.357 psi/ft (G1)
Water specific gravity = 1.07
= 0.463 psi/ft
Produced fluids (10% water) = 0.363 psi/ft (G4)
Depth to pump = 7000 ft (h1)
Pump submergence = 2000 ft (h4)
Pressures and Temperature:
Backpressure in power fluid = 25 psi (pPR)
Backpressure on production = 50 psi (pFL)
Bottomhole temperature = 160 F
Power tubing: 2 7/8-inch OD
Production: 1 1/2-inch OD
Substituting these data into Eq. C-6 yields:
pS = F1 + F2 + 25 + Fp + [(5000)(0.368) + F3 + 50](0.7) =F1 + F2 + Fp + 0.7F3 + 1348
Using the correlations given in Figure 2 and Figure 3

Figure 3

, we obtain the following frictional pressure losses:

Figure 2

From the example appearing in the manual:

F1 = 12.6 psi
F2 = 12.6 psi
Fp = 478 psi
For F3:
viscosity of oil (at reservoir temperature) = 1.8 centistokes
viscosity of water (at reservoir temperature) = 0.4 centistokes
average viscosity (production) = (1.8)(0.9) + (0.4)(0.l) = 1.66 centistokes
Frictional pressure losses for throughput of 325 B/D through 1 1/2-inch tubing gives:
F3 = 3.4 psi/1000 ft = (3.4)(7000/1000) = 23.8 psi
Substituting these values gives:
pS = 12.6 + 12.6 + 478 + 0.7(23.8) + 1348 = 1867.9 psi
The pressure required at the surface for the CPF system, then, is less than that for the OPF system. Of course, this is
obtained at the expense of a separate return line for the power fluid.

Estimating the Surface Pump Size

In order to complete our system calculations, we must estimate the size of the surface pump needed to provide
power fluid at the required pressure and volume. A useful hydraulic horsepower equation for oil field operations is
the following:
hp = qpf

_p (1.7 x l0-5)


hp = pump hydraulic horsepower
qpf = power fluid throughput rate, B/D
p = pressure difference between the suction and discharge sides of the pump, psi
For our example, then, qpf equals 654 B/D.
qpf = 654 B/D
_p = 1964 - 14.7 = 1949.3
hp = (654)(1949.3)(1.7 x 10-5) = 21.67 hp
Of course, we would order the pump in available units to meet this need plus any additional horsepower needed to
overcome pressure losses in surface controls units. If a larger surface pump is installed than that required by design
conditions, we must be sure that it is not used in such a way as to impose an overload condition on the subsurface
pump. Such an overload may be caused by delivering power fluid to the engine-end of the pump so that it operates:
(a) at greater than its rated maximum speed, (b) at a speed that more than satisfies the inflow performance of the
well, or (c) in the case of viscous crudes, at a speed that is greater than approximately one-half of its rated speed.
The latter condition is a "rule of thumb". Pumps are normally tested using a hydraulic fluid with a specific gravity of
about 30 API. For more viscous crudes, the rated pump speed, and therefore capacity, must be reduced to
accommodate the reduced rate at which the fluid moves through the pump-end of the pump.
In some cases, we might choose not to install a single pump for a given well but instead to design a single pump to
handle the power fluid requirements for a group of wells. In such cases, the pump design must be sufficient to
satisfy the total power fluid volume required by all of the wells and be able to deliver that volume at a pressure equal
to the highest pressure required of any single well, plus about 200 psi to account for the pressure drop which occurs
in surface flow control valves and other surface equipment. Here, for example, if we add 200 psi to the 1949.3 psi
estimated pressure drop across the pump, the revised power requirements would be 23.9 horsepower. In this case,
then, we might order a 30 hydraulic horsepower wellsite power plant.

Subsurface Pump Specifications

Figure 1 . Johnson-Fagg Pump (single engine, single pump end)

Figure 1

Figure 2 . Sargent Pump (single engine, single pump end)

Figure 2

Figure 3 . Fluid Packed VFR Pump (single engine, single pump end)

Figure 3

Figure 4 . Fluid Packed VFR Pump (tandem engine, single pump end)

Figure 4

Figure 5 . Fluid Packed V-11 Pump (single engine, single pump end)

Figure 5

Figure 6 . Fluid Packed V-21 Pump (tandem engine, single pump end)

Figure 6

Figure 7 . Fluid Packed F, FE & FEB Pumps

Figure 7

Figure 8 . Kobe Type A Pump (single engine, double pump end)

Figure 8

Figure 9 . Kobe Type B Pump (single engine, single pump end)

Figure 9

Figure 10 . Kobe Type B Pump (single engine, double pump end)

Figure 10

Figure 11 . Kobe Type D Pump (double engine, single pump end)

Figure 11

Figure 12 . Kobe Type D Pump (double engine, double pump end)

Figure 12

Figure 13 . Kobe Type E Pump

Figure 13

Power Fluid Surface Facilities

We now turn to the last design consideration for a hydraulic pumping system -- the power fluid surface facilities.
Fundamentally, we need to know how much tank capacity is required so that, for our OPF system, the power fluid
will be adequately cleaned before being reinjected. The tanks normally used are 24-feet high, with available
capacities of 300, 750, 1500, and 3000 bbl. These provide adequate settling times for power fluid requirements of
600, 1500, 3000, and 6000 B/D, respectively. If more than a single tank is needed, then two may be ordered and
connected in parallel. For our example, the power fluid needed is 654 B/D, so we have a choice. We may select the
first tank, with an estimated capacity of 600 B/D, slightly less than our expected power fluid volume or, the second,
which would more than meet our expected needs. Very likely, we would accept the first unless other considerations
dictate the purchase of the larger tank.

Summary of Design Application

We are now in the position to summarize the design for our specific application. The type of installation is an OPF
system and, because we expect very little gas in our produced fluid, we will plan to pump rather than vent the gas.
The tubing arrangement is a parallel free system with a 2 7/8-inch OD power fluid tubing and 2 3/8-inch OD
production tubing. The downhole pump is a Kobe Type A, 2 1/2 by 1 7/16 by 1 1/4. We expect a production rate of
about 325 B/D with a 10% water cut. The power fluid needs are 654 B/D at a surface wellhead pressure of 1964 psi.
Our surface pump will consist of a 30 hp wellsite power plant and, unless other considerations dictate differently, we
shall install one 24-foot high, 300 bbl tank for cleaning our power fluid. Because this is an OPF system, we will
install additional surface equipment, such as a gas boot, to complete the power fluid system.
With the information we have covered so far, you are now in a position to prepare your own system design, whether
it be for a single- or multi-well system. Remember to start by collecting available data. Then, in sequence:

specify the power fluid system,

decide whether to vent or pump any free gas,
specify a tubing arrangement,
select a downhole pump,
calculate the required power fluid volume and pressure,
specify the needed surface equipment including pump, tanks, and control equipment.


Some Operating Considerations
Once you have designed and installed a pump system, it should operate effectively for a good number of years.
However, there are several operating considerations that should be mentioned. For example, in an open power fluid
system, where the power fluid returns are commingled with production, it is often difficult to measure accurately the
volume of produced fluids that constitute actual production as opposed to the volumes that represent power fluid. A
similar problem can arise in a closed power fluid system if the power fluid is lost during use. Accurate
measurements, then, may be difficult.
Another consideration is the control of pump speed. The speed of the pump, which relates directly to the volume of
fluid produced, is controlled by the power fluid injection rate and not by the power fluid pressure. The operating
pressure may change because of downhole conditions but the control of pump speed is maintained by the rate at
which the power fluid passes through the pump. The power fluid should be injected at a rate sufficient to meet
design conditions. Injecting at a rate above this level may cause an overload.
More than 75% of hydraulic pump failures occur in the engine-end of the pump and most of these are caused by
dirty power fluid. For this reason, one of the prime methods of analyzing the behavior of a pump system is to
observe the increases and decreases that occur in the operating pressure of the power fluid system. For example, by
observing pressure fluctuations we will learn whether the pump is stuck or stalled, has suffered some mechanical
problems (i.e., not on seat), whether there is a leak in the power tubing or production line, whether the fluid level is
increasing or decreasing, and whether the quality of production is changing (i.e., more water, emulsion).
The lifting of viscous crudes should be approached with caution. Pumps are rated using a test fluid that has
approximately a 30 API gravity. As a "rule of thumb" the power oil viscosity should not be greater than 200
centistokes, and the pumped crude should not be greater than 1000 centistokes. Even under these conditions, when
pumping viscous crudes, the pump should be operated at about one-half its rated speed. This condition may require
that a larger pump be installed in order to sustain a given pump rate. Specific guidance should be sought from the

1: What are the major advantages of hydraulic pumping systems?
ANS: The major advantages of hydraulic pumping systems are listed as follows:

1. Hydraulic pumps can produce from relatively small to large rates, typically 135 to 15,000 B/D, from
great depths. The deepest recorded installation is at a depth of 18,000 ft
2. Unlike the rod pump system, the hydraulic pump system can be used effectively in crooked or deviated
3. Pump speed can be easily varied to accommodate changing inflow conditions.
4. With a free pump, we can retrieve the pump easily. Maintenance, therefore, is easily accomplished and
new pumps of the same or different size may be installed as needed.
5. Because weliheads and surface facilities are compact, hydraulic pumping systems are ideal for offshore
or urban production sites.
6. Chemicals may be added to the power fluid, especially in OpF systems, to protect tubing and casing from
Finally, it should be pointed out that, if very limited volumes of free gas are pumped, the hydraulic pump system has
the highest efficiency of any of the artificial lift systems.

Major Advantages and Disadvantages of Electrical Submersible Pump Systems
The major advantages of electrical submersible pump systems include:

wide application in oil and water wells, pumping at rates from 200-60,000 B/D to depths of 15,000 ft;
crooked or deviated wells cause few problems;
applicable offshore and at urban sites;
simple to operate;
lifting cost for high volumes are generally low; and
corrosion and scale treatment are easy to apply.

The major disadvantages include:

not applicable to multiple completions;
only applicable where electric power and high voltages are available;
expensive to change equipment to match declining well productivity;
handling tubulars is difficult with cable;
gas and solids product ion are troublesome;
performance is not easily analyzed;
lack of production rate flexibility exists because of problems (to date) with multiple stop/starts; and
cable may deteriorate under high temperature operation.

Let us now explain each of the components of the system in more detail. We begin again with the bank of
transformers. The transformer system is used to step-up or step-down the primary line voltage to the voltage
required by the motor of the submersible pump. It may consist of banks of three, single-phase transformers, a threephase standard transformer, or a three-phase autotransformer. Because, as we shall see shortly, we may select from a
range of operating voltages for the motor of our submersible pump, the design of a transformer must go hand-inglove with the selection of the voltage for the motor. For example, we may have a primary voltage of 12,500 volts
and require that the transformer step it down to 2400 volts. In another situation, the primary voltage may be 440
volts and we may require that the transformer step up that voltage to 880 volts. In general, you will find that the
manufacturers of electrical submersible pumps also manufacture and sell the necessary transformers. An example

page from a manufacturers catalog showing transformer specifications is given in Table 1 .

Table 1

The electrical line from the transformer goes to the switchboard. Standard switchboards are available in a broad
range of sizes and models to accommodate electrical submersible pumps. They are also sold by the pump
manufacturer ( Table 2 ).

Table 2

The primary purpose of the switchboard is to control the pump motor and provide overload and underload
protection. Protection during underload, a condition where the pump is not displacing its design volumes, is needed
because low flow rates will not allow adequate cooling of the motor. Protection against overload, a condition where
excessive amperage flows through the motor, is needed to prevent the burning of the motor windings. In addition to
these key functions, the switchboard may be used to record amperage on a continuous basis using typically a 24hour chart. As we shall see shortly, this chart provides a good diagnostic tool for measuring the pumps performance.
The switchboard can also be used as an adjustable time, automatic restart control. If a pump, for example, shuts
down because the well is pumped off, you may set the control to begin pumping again in a fixed number of hours.
This control will provide automatic restart as needed. Note that the pump should not be restarted until you are
assured that previously pumped fluid is no longer back-flowing through the pump thereby causing the impeller to
reverse circulate. Locating a standing valve in the tubing will normally eliminate this concern. The switchboard may
include such additional features as signal lights and automatic remote control. Switchboards are sold by pump
manufacturers in ranges from 240 to 4800 volts.

Junction Box
The next component of our system is the junction box. As we mentioned earlier, this component provides a point at
which to connect the power cable from the switchboard to the power cable from the well ( Figure 1 ).

Figure 1

As such, it should provide an explosion free vent to the atmosphere for any gas that might migrate up the power
cable from the wellbore. The junction box should be located at least 15 ft from the wellhead and should be locked at
all times for security reasons. A typical manufacturers specification for a junction box is given in Table 3 .

Table 3

Wellhead and Power Cable

The cable from the junction box then runs to the wellhead. A special wellhead must be used to pack off the power
cable so it enters the wellbore without leaks ( Figure 1 ).

Figure 1

A power cable is available in both flat and round styles and has, within it, three insulated conductors ( Figure 2a and
Figure 2b ).

Figure 2a

These conductors are available in a number of sizes and are usually made of either copper or aluminum.

Figure 2b

The proper selection of the cable and the conductors depends upon the expected amperage that will flow through the
cable to the motor; the calculated voltage drop in the line from the surface to the pump; and the space that exists
between the tubing collar and the casing. Even though the cable is banded to the tubing at selected points, we must
assure ourselves that there is ample space to install and pull the pump without damaging the cable or getting it hungup in the well. A final consideration in the selection of cables and conductors is the operating environment, that is,
the operating pressure and temperature at pump depth.
Our first consideration in selecting cables, then, is amperage. The limitations on amperage for cables containing
copper conductors are shown in Table 1 .

Table 1

Note that the cable with the smaller number has the larger diameter. Thus, we see that cable #1 can carry a
maximum amperage of 115 amps.
Our second consideration in selecting a cable is the voltage drop that will occur between the wellhead and the pump.
Normally, the maximum voltage drop for an electrical cable is about 30v/1000 feet. In Figure 3 we see a graph of
amperage versus voltage drop per thousand feet of cable length.

Figure 3

The performance of a number of different conductors are represented. For example, if 60 amps is flowing through
the cable, then the voltage drop per thousand feet in a #1 copper conductor will be about 16 volts, in a #4 copper
conductor will be about 31 volts, and in a #6 copper conductor will be near 45 volts. It seems clear that the larger
conductor, with the lower voltage drop, will be more desirable, especially in deep wells. A counter-argument to this
is that the larger cable will cost more money, and might not fit with accepted tolerances between the tubing collars
and the casing. A balance must be struck in our design.

The Submersible Pump

Now that we understand the surface components of our electrical submersible pumping system, let us consider the
submersible pump itself. In most circumstances, the pump is installed on the tubing; however, one manufacturer
offers a submersible pump which is suspended on the power cable. This allows the pump to be retrieved without
pulling tubing. We shall limit our attention here to downhole pumps suspended at the bottom of the tubing.
The Pump
Let us first consider the pump. Electrical submersible pumps are multistaged centrifugal pumps. Each stage consists
of a rotating impeller and a stationary diffuser ( Figure 1 ).

Figure 1

As the shaft of the pump moves in response to the work being done by the motor, the impeller rotates causing a
rotating motion to the fluid. The diffuser changes the direction and velocity of flow and directs fluid from the
impeller of one stage to the impeller of the next stage. The type of stage used determines the volume of fluid to be
produced. The number of stages contained in a pump determines the total pressure or head generated. The
horsepower required by the motor is determined by both the volume displaced and the head generated. Pumps are
manufactured in a broad range of capacities to satisfy almost all well conditions.

For any given pump, the impellers are designed to operate efficiently over a specific capacity range ( Figure 2 ).

Figure 2

If the pump is operated at too low a capacity, there is a downthrust of the impeller against the diffuser causing wear
on the bearings and washers. Conversely, if the pump runs at higher than design capacity, an upthrust of the impeller
against the upper part of the diffuser will occur causing similar wear. Ideally, then, the impeller should float freely
during operation and it will do so over its recommended operating range. As we see in Figure 2 that range is where
the pump has the highest efficiency.
The length and diameter of a pump are limited by manufacturing and wellbore conditions. The length of a single
section of the pump, because of assembly and handling difficulties, is limited to about 20 to 25 ft, however, it is
possible to join pump sections together adding successive stages to develop the required head.
Pump diameters are limited by the size of casing in which they are to be run. Table 1 , for example, lists the
suggested pump diameters recommended for various size casings.

Table 1

Thus, we see that the 3 3/8-inch OD pump will fit very nicely within the 4 1/2-inch OD casing. If our casing is 8 5/8
inches, or greater, in diameter, then we could use 4-, 5 1/8-or 6 3/4-inch pumps.
The number of stages that can be added to a pump is not unlimited. There are three principal variables which must
be considered when adding stages to a pump:

the horsepower rating of the shaft that turns the pump;

the pressure rating of the pump housing; and
the capacity of the thrust bearing. Each of these is considered by the manufacturer when specifying the
capacity range for a pump.

1: List and explain the purpose of each component of the electrical submersible centrifugal pump system.
ANS: Pumping System Components

Figure 1

The individual components of the electrical submersible centrifugal pumping system ( Figure 1 ) are listed as
The electrical submersible motor is usually a 3-phase, induction type, which is oil-filled for cooling and
lubrication. A high starting torque enables the motor to reach full load operating speed of approximately
3500 RPM in less than 15 cycles thus reducing drag on the power supply. The well fluid serves as the
cooling agent. Therefore, the unit is installed above the perforations.
The protector is located between the pump and motor. Its main purpose is to isolate the motor from the well
fluid. The protector is designed to allow pressure equalization between the intake pressure and the motor's
internal pressure. The unit will permit expansion or contraction of the motor oil due to thermal expansion.
Two mechanical seals provide dual protection as a barrier against fluid migrating along the shaft. The
protector also houses a marine-type thrust bearing which absorbs axial loading from the pump.
Intake (and perhaps a Gas Separator):
The pump intake is a bolt-on section between the protector and the pump. It may also have a gas separator
which is designed to separate a greater portion of any free gas in the produced fluid.
Submersible pumps are multi-staged centrifugal pumps. Each stage consists of a rotating impeller and a
stationary diffuser. The type of stage used determines the volume of fluid that the pump can deliver. The
number of stages determines the total head generated and horsepower required. Each stage contributes its
share of the total head developed.
Power Cable:
Power to the motor is transmitted by an electrical cable especially designed for oil field application. A
range of conductor sizes permits efficient matching to motor requirements. Round and flat cables are
available, and flat cable is usually used where clearance is a problem.

Figure 1 Submersible Centrifugal Pumping Unit.


Pump Performance Curves
In selecting a pump for a particular application, we look carefully at its performance curves. There are three such
curves: head versus pump capacity, motor horsepower versus capacity, and the pump efficiency versus capacity.
These test curves, published by various manufacturers, are obtained by running a pump in water at a constant speed
and varying its throughput by throttling the discharge side of the pump. During the test, pressure difference across
the pump, brake horsepower, and pump efficiency are measured at a number of different pump throughput rates. The
pressure increase is then converted to head. With this information, performance curves, showing head, pump
efficiency, and brake horsepower, for a specified number of pump stages, are drawn as a function of pump
throughput rate. Typical performance curves for a 100 stage, TRW-Reda D1350 pump is shown in Figure 1 .

Figure 1

Fresh water, with a specific gravity of 1.0, is the fluid used in rating electrical submersible pumps. It is important to
note that even though water is the standard liquid used in developing performance curves, we usually use the same
values of head when selecting a pump to pump a liquid with a different specific gravity, provided the viscosity of the
liquid is close to that of water. We shall see shortly that, unlike head, brake horsepower requires a specific gravity
correction term.
Pump performance curves are normally published for either 1 or 100 pump stages. The one shown in Figure 1 , for
example, is for 100 stages. The performance curve, then, is a standard reference which is used for design purposes.
The four largest manufacturers of pumps publish a series of these curves for each type of pump they sell. A sampling

is to be found in Table 1 ,

Table 1

Table 2 ,

Table 2

Table 3 ,

Table 3

Table 4 ,

Table 4

Table 5 ,

Table 5

Table 6 ,

Table 6

Table 7 ,

Table 7

Table 8 ,

Table 8

Table 9 ,

Table 9

Table 10 ,

Table 10

Table 11 ,

Table 11

Table 12 ,

Table 12

Table 13 ,

Table 13

Table 14 ,

Table 14

Table 15 , and Table 16.

Table 16.

Table 15

It is important that we learn to use performance curves. Assume that we need a pump that will provide a pressure of
1725 psi and that the desired pump capacity is 1250 B/D. From the pump performance curve given in Figure 1')
It is important that we learn to use performance curves. Assume that we need a pump that will provide a pressure of
1725 psi and that the desired pump capacity is 1250 B/D. From the pump performance curve given in Figure 1 , at a
pump capacity of 1250 B/D, we note that the head generated, for 100 stages, is equal to 2280 ft, the brake
horsepower required is 32.5, and the pump efficiency is 64%. We may restate the head as being equal to 22.8
ft/stage, and the required brake horsepower as being 0.325 hp/stage. The number of stages required, then, will be
equal to:

The brake horsepower required will be equal to the horsepower per stage, and multiplied by the number of stages,
and multiplied by the specific gravity of the fluid being pumped.
hp = (hp / stage)(stages)(spec. grav.)
We may substitute into this equation remembering that water, with a specific gravity of 1.0, is being pumped.
hp = (0.325)(l75)(1.0) = 56.9
The procedure to be followed, then, requires that we first specify the operating conditions for a pump, that is, the
required capacity, in B/D, and the required fluid head. Then we turn to the performance curves supplied by the
manufacturer to select a pump. In doing so we look for a pump that, at the required capacity, will be operating in its
optimum capacity range at the highest pump efficiency. We remember that the capacity of a pump depends on the
design of the impeller and not on the number of stages. With the selected performance curve and pump capacity, we

look up or calculate the head/stage and horsepower/ stage. Knowing the required head, we calculate the total number
of stages needed, and with that value, the horsepower required for the motor.

Total Dynamic Head

As mentioned above, the starting point in the pump selection procedure is the specification of the required capacity
of the pump and the total dynamic head that the pump must provide. The required capacity of the pump is based on
our estimate of the wells inflow performance. The performance curves are actual test curves. Assuming that very
little gas is to be pumped, no pump efficiency factor need be applied. The pump should be selected to provide the
desired capacity assuming that it will operate continuously.
The total dynamic head is the total head required when pumping at the desired rate. It is the difference between the
head at the pump discharge and the head at the pump intake. Its calculation is straightforward.
Let us assume that we are pumping a liquid without free gas, and that all pressures are converted to head in feet
using the specific gravity of the produced fluid. The total dynamic head (TDH) is equal to the head caused by the
backpressure in the tubing, minus the frictional losses generated by flow in the tubing, plus the head contributed by
the presence of the liquid column in the tubing, minus the head caused by the operating liquid column in the
annulus, minus any head caused by a backpressure being imposed on the annulus. Generally the annulus
backpressure is negligible and so the liquid columns may be netted out to give a single term for the net lift. Note that
as a "rule of thumb" the pump should have at least 500 ft of fluid over it when in the operating mode. Lets look at a
specific example.
We are told that the tubing backpressure is 75 psi, that the pump depth is 8500 ft, the operating fluid load depth is
700 ft above the pump, the tubing size is 2 7/8-inch OD, the casing size is 7-inch OD, the desired pump rate is 1400
B/D, and that the fluid being pumped is a 250 API oil with a specific gravity of 0.904 and a hydrostatic gradient of
0.392 psi/ft. For this example, assume that there is no packer in the hole. Because there is no backpressure on the

TDH = Tubing Backpressure "Head" + Frictional Head Losses + Net Lift


tubing backpressure "head" =

The frictional losses during flow in the tubing are obtained using the viscosity correlations given in Figure 1 and
Figure 2 (Kobe) and the frictional pressure losses that we used for hydraulic pumping.

Figure 1

Note: Centrilift uses a different figure based on Hazen Williams Formula:


Figure 2

C=120 constant
V=fluid velocity ft/s

R=hydraulic radius
S=frictional head loss ft/ft
(expt .001)-.04 =1.3183 constant
(solve for S)
For this flow rate, tubing size, and produced fluid, the losses are found to be approximately equal to 9 psi/10O0 ft of
tubing. This converts to:
The net lift, again assuming that there is no packer in the hole, is simply the depth to the pump minus the height of
the fluid level above the pump:
Net Lift = 8500 - 700 = 7800 ft
We see, then, that the total dynamic head is:
TDH = 191.3 + 195 + 7800 = 8186.3 ft
This is the value that we would use in selecting a pump.

Presence of Excessive Free Gas

You will note that the calculation we just completed is accurate provided we are not pumping significant volumes of
gas or have gas coming out of solution as production rises in the tubing. The selection of a pump is significantly
more complicated if gas is present. We may make several initial observations about the effect of free gas on
submersible pump operations:

Normally the pump is installed on the tubing without a packer. This means that free gas is easily vented up
the annulus. (Note, however, that many ESP well installations--especially offshore--do include packers.)
It is no longer feasible to vent the annulus gas to atmosphere, it must be collected in flow lines. However,
we must be careful to control the annulus backpressure and any surface venting so that the pump is under
an acceptable level or liquid submergence. If not, the pump may become locked with gas.
Manufacturers provide downhole gas separators to assist in preventing gas from entering the pump.
If the pump is set at a point where the pressure is below the bubble point, any free gas that is not separated
is pumped. The pump will perform normally if the volume of free gas is below 10%.
Otherwise, the presence of gas will result in the need for a higher capacity pump. Offsetting this is the fact
that the presence of gas in the tubing will reduce the TDH and, thus, the required motor horsepower.

The design procedure for wells that pump gas is more difficult because of the need to estimate the pressure-volume
effects that take place between the pump intake and discharge pressures. The effect may be shown by the example
given in Figure 1 .

Figure 1

Note that the initial pump stages perform a substantial amount of gas compression. Between an intake pressure of
500 psi and a discharge pressure of 1215 psi, the fluid volume is almost cut in half. It is the calculations of the
number of stages needed that makes these calculations tedious. The procedure generally followed involves:
estimating the pump intake pressure from inflow data; estimating the pump discharge pressure from
multiphaseflow correlations

dividing the range of pressure between the inlet and discharge valves into discrete increments and then
calculating the pressure-volume changes that occur from increment to increment;
and calculating the average volume throughput and average fluid gradient, from the pump intake to
discharge points, and, with this data, selecting a pump and then specifying the number of stages required
using the pumps performance curves.

Because many companies and most manufacturers have computer programs that can quickly carry out the
appropriate calculations, we refer the reader to those sources for further details.

Selection of Motor
Once we know the required capacity of a pump and its TDH, we turn to the various manufacturers performance
curves. We select a pump that optimally meets our capacity needs, calculate the number of stages required, and then
specify the required motor horsepower. Let us assume for the present example, that, after reviewing the performance
curves, we select a TRW-Reda series 400 D1350 type pump ( Figure 1 ). The 400 series pump has an OD of 4 inches
and will fit within our 7-inch casing. At a throughput rate of 1400 B/D, a TDH of 8186 ft and the performance
curves, we find:
Head = 2100 ft / l00 stages

Figure 1

hp = 34 hp/100 stages
The number of stages and motor horsepower required, then, are:

hp = (hp / stage) (stages) (spec. grav.) = (0.34) (390) (0.904)

120 hp

The pump is now specified, but we must still select the type of motor to be installed. If the bottomhole temperature
is greater than 180F, we would increase the horsepower required by up to 20%. It is not, in this case, so we look to
TRW-Redas catalog for a 120 hp motor that will fit into a 7-inch 0D casing. In this case, it would be series 456
motor ( Table 1 ). The 456 Series has an 0D of 4.56 inches and there is a selection of four 60-Hz motors, each with a
different required voltage, that will provide the required 120 hp. We note that the higher voltage motors require lower

Table 1

Now we must select one motor for our application. In general, the choice of motor voltage is a function of line
voltage losses, capital costs, and the electric power cost. Let us consider the line losses first.
The required surface voltage is the voltage required by the motor, plus voltage losses between the motor and the
surface including losses in the cable, other system components, and the transformer. The cable losses are the most
significant. As an upper limit, cable losses should be less than 30 v/ 1000 feet. If we select, for example, the 1000
volt, 77 amp motor ( Table 1 ), we would turn to Figure 2 ; here we would see that an ideal conductor is the #2
copper conductor which, at this amperage, has a voltage drop of 25 volts/l000 ft of cable.

Figure 2

On the other hand, if we select the 2300 volt, 34 amp motor, we could select a smaller #6 copper conductor and have
the same voltage drop along the cable. Because the #6 copper conductor is smaller than the #2, we conclude that the
higher voltage motor allows for a lower cable capital cost. At a higher voltage, of course, the switchboard will be
more expensive than a lower voltage one.
Instead of the #6 copper conductor cable, we might select a larger conductor cable, say the #2 copper one, to use
with the 2300 volt motor. The voltage loss in the cable will drop from 25 to 11 volts/1000 ft. The larger conductor
cable will require a higher capital cost, but lower operating costs. Within limits, then, a larger, more expensive cable
will allow for lower line losses and, thus, lower operating costs.
Motor selection, then, requires an economic analysis of voltage and cable alternatives; however, the following
recommendations should serve as a guide:

For low horsepower motors and shallow depths use a 440 volt system.
For less than 70 hp at intermediate depths, use a 830 volt system.
For 70 to 200 hp in deep wells, use a 1500 volt system.
For motors of 200 volts and greater, use 1500 or 2400 volt systems. The choice of the latter two voltages
will depend on economics.

Selecting Surface Voltage

We must still determine the required surface voltage for our system in order to select a switchboard and transformer.
The required surface voltage is equal to:
Vs = Vm + _Vc + _Vcom + _Vt
Vs = required surface voltage, V


Vm = motor voltage, V
_Vc = cable voltage losses, V
_Vcom = system component losses, V
_Vt = transformer voltage losses, V
Let us select the 2300 volt motor for analysis. With the 2300 volt motor, the voltage loss in the cable, _Vc, if we use
the #1 copper conductor and have a pump depth of 8500 ft, is 76.5 volts. We shall assume the surface component
losses, _Vcom, to be negligible. The transformer losses, _Vt, are usually suggested as being 2.5% of the required
voltage. In this case the required surface voltage, without significant electrical component voltage losses, and using
the #1 copper conductor, would be:
Vs = 2300 + 76.5 + 0 + 0.025(2376.5) = 2436 V
Operating voltage is flexible within a 50-volt range, thus we might select a standard 2400-volt transformer system to
meet this system voltage need. In most cases, it would be better to have a required surface voltage below 2400 volts.
For this reason, we would analyze the other motor and cable options to find one that will provide a surface operating
voltage somewhat below that of the transformer system. Our further analysis of this specific pump system would
show that the 1170-volt motor with a #4 copper conductor cable will require a surface voltage of 1495 volts. With
this pump and cable a system voltage of 1500 volts may be specified.
The switchboard would also be purchased from the manufacturer and would have a maximum voltage rating of 1500
volts and a maximum amp load or at least 66 amps.
The transformer size is expressed in kilovolt-amps and is given by the expression:
KVA = 0.00173 Vs Am


KVA = transformer size, kV-amps
Vs = system voltage, V
Am = motor amperage, amp
For our example, Vs is equal to 1495 volts and Am is equal to 66 amps. So the transformer size is:
KVA = 0.00l73(l495)(66) = 171 KVA
If three single-phase transformers are used, each would require one-third of this value, or about 57 KVA. Other
specifications of the transformer would be determined in consultation with the manufacturer and would include
consideration of the primary line voltage available in the operating area ( Table 1 ).

Table 1

Example Design: Electrical Submersible Pump

The following design procedure is adapted from an internal publication of TRW-Reda, Inc. In addition to the design
of the ESP, a cost comparison for a comparable hydraulic pump installation is also provided by Kobe, Inc.
Step 1. Determine the average specific gravity of the produced fluids and the bottomhole pressure at the pump. The
average specific gravity, assuming a gas-free oil specific gravity of 0.876, is:
0.876 x 0.90 = 0.79
1.05 x 0.10 =
The pump is placed 200 ft above the perforations. This represents a bottomhole pressure reduction of:
p = (200) (.433) (0.9) = 78 psi
Therefore, the bottomhole pressure at the pump is estimated to be
2250 - 78 = 2172 psi.
Step 2. Calculate the wells inflow rate using the productivity index (PI) or Vogels method.

The inflow performance relationship for solution gas drive reservoirs may also be obtained using Vogels method.
With a fluid level 900 ft above the pump, we estimated the pump intake pressure to be approximately 350 psi. With
this information we may calculate the inflow rate to be:
Test Conditions
q = 650 B/D
pwf = 1600 psi

= 2250 psi


= 0.71

q/qmax = 0.45
650/qm = 0.45
qm = 1444 B/D
Pumping Conditions
pwf = 350 + 78 = 428 psi


= 428/2250 = 0.19

q/qm = 0.935
q = (O.935)(l444 B/D) = 1350 B/D
Available drawdown is:
2250 - 428 = 1822 psi
Step 3. Determine total dynamic head, TDH.
a) Net vertical lift = 5400 ft
b) Frictional pressure losses
Given: 6300 ft of 2 3/8-inch tubing and a flow rate of 1350 B/D
Frictional pressure losses, calculated using correlations for 2 3/8-inch tubing, is approximately 70 psi/1000 ft
multiplied by the fluid specific gravity. The total pressure losses converted to head is:

We will use 500 ft for frictional losses so as to include check and bleeder losses.
c) Surface wellhead pressure
pFL = 200 psi
pFL = flowing tubing pressure, psi
Using a 0.90 average fluid specific gravity, this value may be converted to feet of head

Total Dynamic Head

TDH = 5400 + 500 + 513 = 6413 ft
Step 4. Select the type and size of pump.
Since this unit is to be installed in 5 1/2-inch OD casing, a 400 series pump could be selected ( Figure 1 ). At 1350
B/D rate the 01350-60 Hz is the most efficient TRW-Reda 400 series pump for this application.

Figure 1

Step 5. Determine the number of stages necessary.

At 1350 B/D, the head per stage on the 01350 Reda pump is approximately 22 ft. Therefore, the required number of
stages is:

A 01350 pump from Reda comes in a 160 housing with 294 stages and so we would order the 294 stage unit.
Step 6. Determine motor horsepower.
hp = no. of stages x (hp/stage) x specific gravity
= 294 stages x 32.7 hp/100 stages x 0.90 = 87 hp
87 hp is the required hydraulic horsepower. If the well is drilled with brine or heavier fluid, a 10% overload will be
added so that the kill fluid may be pumped. Therefore at least 100 hp will be installed. A 456 series Reda motor
(4.56-inch 0D) can be used with the 400 series pump. A 100 hp Reda motor is available as follows:










Step 7. Select the cable.

To select the cable, note that the bottomhole temperature is 170F and 6300 ft of cable are required to reach the
pump. As a "rule of thumb," a cable length 100 ft longer than the pump setting depth should be used. Therefore we
would order 6400 ft of cable.
Step 8. Determine voltage loss in cable and surface voltage.
We assume that Redas No. 4 Redalene cable is selected for the l70 F environment and that the 1120 volt, 57 amps
motor is to be installed. 6400 ft of No. 4 Redalene copper cable with 57 amps flowing through, will give a voltage
loss of 30 volts/1000 ft. The required surface voltage, then, can be calculated using Eq. 9:
Vs = Vm + _Vc + _Vcom + Vt =1120 + (30 V) (6.4) + 0 + 0.025 [(30 V x 6.4) + 1120]= 1345 V
Surface voltage of 1500 volts will be a proper voltage for this application.
Step 9. Calculate required KVA (see Eq. 20).
1500 volt surface voltage
57 amps (normal operations)
KVA = 1500 V x 57 amps x 0.00173
150 KVA
Three single-phase transformers may be used (standard domestic operation). The KVA value required per single
transformer is:

The recommendation would be to use three 50 KVA single-phase transformers.

Step 10. Select the proper accessories.
In addition to the other surface and subsurface equipment, a properly sized wellhead, check valve, and bleeder valve
will be required.
Step 11. Estimate costs.
The following cost of the required electrical submersible pump system is based on a 1982 TRW-Reda price
catalogue. It is provided here only as an example of the price determination.


Cat. #

Unit Price


D1350-60 Hz Pump, 400 series (two

80 housing, 147 stages each)


$ 4,524

$ 9,048

Bolt-on Discharge Head




Intake section with gas separator (400

series 65GS)




456 Series Motor (1500 V)




Protector (66L type)




Flat cable extension (40 ft extension

from motor to cable)




#4 Redalene Cable (6400 ft)




MDFH size 3-150 hp 1500 V





Single-phase 60-Hz transformer




HHS wellheads 5 1/2-inch casing




Check valve 2 3/8-inch 0D 8 RD EUE





Bleeder valve 2 3/8-inch OD 8 RD

EUE tubing






Comparable Hydraulic
Pump Design

The same well design problem was presented to Phil Wilson at Kobe, Inc, and he recommended the following
design and capital cost elements to satisfy a production rate of 1350 B/D. At the outset he suggested that the tubing
size be increased to 2 7/8 inches to accommodate the ideal pump for this rate.

Subsurface Equipment
2 1/2 x 1 3/4 Kobe Type E pump


Bottomhole assembly


Standing valve


Packer and nose assembly


Wellhead Equipment
Four-way valve


Surface Equipment
Surface pump (100 hp with electric


Wellsite power fluid supply unit (4 x

10 with cyclone de-sanders)




Note that the surface equipment capital cost allocated to this well would be reduced substantially if a multi-well
design were being undertaken. In effect, the capital costs of the two artificial lift methods would become quite
comparable. It seems clear from this brief analysis that the actual cost of artificial lift is a function of:

capital investment
operating and maintenance expenses
equipment life
size of installation/number of wells

Figure 2 , prepared by Spears and Company, shows the optimum capital cost range for the three principal methods of
artificial lift: hydraulic, electrical, submersible and rod pumping.

Figure 2

To this cost, of course, must be added the three other cost items in the above list.


Downhole Failures and Their Causes
There are a number of other operating ammeter charts that could be shown. Those discussed are the most typical.
Downhole failures may occur at the motor, at the pump, or in the cable. The following list gives the potential causes
of such failures.
Motor failures may occur for a number of reasons. They include:

excessive motor overload

a leak in the protector caused by worn or defective seals

insufficient fluid movement to cool the motor

motor housing corrosion
faulty installation
switchboard problems
an unbalanced electrical system

The pump section may fail because of:

downthrust or upthrust wear on the pump bearings
wear caused internally by the pumping abrasives
plugged or obstructed stages caused by deposition, corrosion
a twisted shaft caused by starting a pump, after shut-down, while the fluids are still moving downward in
the pump
The cable may fail because of:
mechanical damage caused during running or pulling operations
deterioration caused by the downhole environment
high temperatures caused by amperage loads
Remember that when there is a down hole failure, a workover rig is normally needed to pull and re-run the tubing.
There is the cost, then, of the replacement part, the workover operation and the production downtime. Even if there
has not been a failure (e.g., when a pump is to be re-sized because the wells inflow performance has changed) the
cost of the workover operation and production downtime must be incurred. On the one hand, if the wells inflow has
been increasing, the newly installed pump will pay for itself with the higher production rate. On the other hand, if
the inflow is decreasing, you might ask, why change the pump, just cycle its operation daily as you would a rod
pumping unit. "Whats the problem?" The problem is that large current surges occur during start-up of a high
voltage, high horsepower induction motor when it is separated from its starter at the surface by five or ten thousand
feet of cable. These surges are typically five to eight times the normal operating current. This type of starting is
referred to as "across-the-line" starting and the large current surges during start-up for a pump are shown in Figure

Figure 1

Here we see that the current, normally at 32 amps, surges to 141 amps at start-up. Not only starting but also stopping
the motor causes these amperage and voltage spikes. These spikes can damage or burnout the motor. Only a limited
number of stops and starts are normally Possible and so most operators are reluctant to stop and start a submersible
pump unless it is absolutely necessary. But all is not lost. There are a few options that may be pursued.

Varying Pump Rate

There are four alternatives that may be followed if a wells inflow performance is decreasing and a pump, running
continuously, is oversized. The first is to change the pump, a condition that requires pulling the tubing, losing some
production, and purchasing and installing a new pump. We avoid this option. The second is to increase the
backpressure at the wellhead so as to reduce the capacity of the pump. This is undesirable because of the waste of
energy and because of potential thrust problems in the pump. The last two alternatives require modifications to the
electrical submersible pump system. One possibility is to eliminate the current surges during start and stop
operations. This would allow us to cycle the pump and its motor as we would the motor of a rod pumping system.
The other option is to reduce the speed of the motor and, thus, the speed of the pump. Varying motor speed is the
preferred method of changing the pump capacity.

Soft Start/Soft Stop

The surges in current during start and stop operations may be limited by using silicone-controlled rectifiers at the
surface starter to provide controlled levels of power at the pump. With these rectifiers at the surface, the voltage and
amperage are allowed to "ramp up" or "ramp down" at acceptable rates and levels over a prespecified period of time.
This type of start and stop control, which provides smooth power flow to and from the motor during stop/start
operations is referred to as "soft start" and "soft stop" ( Figure 1 ). Commercial stop/start controllers are now
available and have been used under field conditions. They have demonstrated that pumps may be cycled an
extensive number of times without damage (Neely, 1982).

Figure 1

Variable Frequency Generator

The last alternative for changing the capacity of an electric submersible pump is to install a variable frequency
generator, or VFG, in place of the standard 50- or 60-Hz motor controller at the surface (Kelley, 1980). For example,
a VFG may be rated at 300 KVA with a frequency range of 36 to 90 Hz. Because. the motor speed is proportional to
frequency, and the pump speed is equal to the motor speed, a variable speed generator allows the pump to operate at
a rate above or below its rated capacity at 60 or 50 Hz. There is an upper limit, though, on pump rate variability. It is
at the amperage overload condition of the downhole motor. Subject to this limit, then, a variable frequency generator
may be used to increase or decrease pump rate, by say 20% to 30%, so as to satisfy the wells changing inflow
performance. If larger changes are required, a resizing of the pump will be necessary.
We see, then, that there are a number of operating options that are being developed to make the electrical
submersible pump more versatile in its application to a specific well or field. Keep in mind, though, that your best
approach is to consider the design and selection of a pump for each well on its own merits and under conditions
where the pump will be called upon to operate continuously.

1: (a) Draw an ammeter chart for an electrical submersible pump (ESP) to show: (1) normal operations, (2) gassy
production, (3) overload condition, (4) over-sized pump.
(b) What options are available for handling a well that has an ESP installed and its inflow performance is
decreasing? increasing?

ANS: Part (a)

1. Normal operation: In Figure 1 , a normal operation is shown on the ammeter chart.

Figure 1

Within these normal operating conditions, the total dynamic head and producing rate can vary from actual
to design by only approximately 5%, therefore, the curve should be a smooth symmetrical one.
2. Gassy production: The unit represented by Figure 2 is operating in the gassy condition.

Figure 2

The fluctuation is caused by entrained free gas in reservoir fluid production. The pump attempts to pump
whatever is present at the pump intake and at the Redesigned number of barrels. However, one barrel of gas
represents a relatively smaller stock tank contribution, but it represents a substantial volume through the
pump. Therefore, this condition is usually accompanied by a reduction in total fluid production.
3. Overload: Figure 3 shows a unit having a shutdown due to overload (high current) conditions.

Figure 3

In Section I of the chart, the curve shows start up at some amperage below nameplate and then it gradually
rises to normal. In Section II, the curve shows the unit running normally. However, the curve in Section III
shows a gradual rise in amperage until the unit finally drops off line due to overload. The common causes
of this condition are increases in fluid specific gravity or viscosity (such as heavy brines or muds); sand
production; emulsions; or mechanical problems such as lightning, motor overheating or wearing
4. Oversized pump: This ammeter chart ( Figure 4 ) is a typical recording of a unit oversized for the

Figure 4

The curve shows a normal start-up followed by a decline in amperage due to the no-load idle amperage of
the motor.

Part (b)
There are four options available for handling a well that has a decreasing ESP inflow performance.
1. The pump may be changed. This option requires pulling the tubing, losing some production and
purchasing a new pump. We avoid this option.
2. We may reduce the capacity of the pump by increasing the backpressure at the weliFead. This is
undesirable because of the waste of energy and potential thrust problems in the pump.
3. We may eliminate the current surges during start and stop operations ("soft start/soft stop"). This would
allow us to cycle the pump and its motor.
4. We may reduce the speed of the motor and the speed of the pump by varying the frequency of the power
A number of technical problems can cause decreasing production including tubing leaks, plugged pump intake,
obstructed inflow line, and a broken pump shaft. These problems must be corrected before the pump will operate
If a well's inflow performance is increasing the option available is to install a new pump provided the newly
installed pump is shown to pay for itself with the higher producton rate. A variable frequency generator may also be
used to increase the production rate by up to 20% without changing the pump.


Summary of Other Subsurface Pump Systems
Before ending this Module, we should list a few of the other rodless pump systems. First there is the jet pump, a
special class of hydraulic pump which achieves its pumping action by means of momentum transfer between the
power fluid and the production ( Figure 1 ).

Figure 1

There are no moving parts -- only the Bernoulli effect of fluid passing through a nozzle at the bottom of the well,
changing pressure to velocity, that causes the fluid production (Brown, 1980; Chapter 6).


Figure 1

Plunger lift production relies on a piston which travels the entire length of the tubing string in a cyclic manner to
cause production ( Figure 1 ). Usually the piston lifts liquids that build up periodically in the tubing to the surface.
With this assistance, the well continues to flow.

API Specification for Sucker Rods, API, Spec 11B, (1982).
API Specification for. Subsurface Pumps and Fittings, API Spec 11AX. (1979).
API Recommended Practice for Design Calculations for Sucker Rod Pumping Systems (Conventional Units), API
RPllL, (1977).
API Recommended Practice for Design Calculations for Sucker Rod Pumping Systems (Conventional Units),
Supplement 1, API RP11L, (1979).
API Bulletin Containing Curves for Selecting Beam Pumping Units, API BUL11L4, (1970).
API Recommended Practice for Care and Use of Subsurface Pumps, API
RP11AR, (1968).
"Artificial Lift - Sucker Rod Pumping", Atlantic Richfield Company Manual.
Brown, K.E., 1980, The Technology of Artificial Lift Methods, Vol. 2a, Pennwell Books, Tulsa, OK.

_____ , 1982, Overview of Artificial Lift Systems, Journal of Petroleum Technology, Vol. 34, No. 10.
Coberly, C.J., 1961, "Theory and Application of Hydraulic Oil Well Pumps," Kobe, Inc., Huntington Park, CA.
Craft, B.C., Holden, W.R., and E.D. Graves, Jr., 1962, Well Design: Drilling and Production, Prentice-Hall Inc.,
Englewood Cliffs, N.J, p. 280-367.
DeMoss, E.E., 1982, Gas Lift Increases High-Volume Production From Claymore Field, Journal of Petroleum
Technology, Vol. 34, No. 4.
Gibbs, S.G., 1963, Predicting the Behavior of Sucker-Rod Pumping Systems, Transactions of SPE-AIME, Vol. 228,
p. 769-778.
_____ , 1975, Computing Gear Box Torque and Motor Loading for Beam Pumping Units with Consideration or
Inertia Effects, JPT, Vol. 34, SPE-AIME, p. 1153-1159.
Gibbs, S.G., and A.B. Neely, 1966, Computer Diagnosis of Down-Hole Conditions In Sucker Rod Pumping Wells,
Transactions of SPE-AIME, Vol. 237, p. 91-98.
Gilbert, W.E., 1936, "An Oil-well Pump Dynagraph." API Drill. Prod. Practice, p. 94.
Kelley, Robert S., 1980, "Productivity Determination and Pump Resizing Using Variable-Speed Electric
Submersible Pumps", Trans. AIME, 1503-1508.
Kramer, M.J.G., Martin, J.D., and A.B. Neely, 1982, Onsite Analysis of Sucker Rod Pumping Wells, SPE 11037,
paper presented in 5-7th Annual Fall Meeting at New Orleans, LA.
Lufkin Engineering Manual, Lufkin Industries, Inc., Lufkin, TX.
Neely, A.B., and M.M. Patterson, 1982, "Soft Start of Submersible Pumped Oil Wells", Paper Presented at Annual
Fall Technical Meeting of the Society of Petroleum Engineers, New Orleans.
Petroleum Extension Service, 1979, Fundamentals of Petroleum, The University of Texas at Austin.
Treadway, R.B., and K.R. Facazio, 1981, Fiberglass Sucker Rods A Futuristic Solution to Today's Problem Wells,
SPElO25l, paper presented in 56th Annual Full Meeting at San Antonio, TX.
Wilson, P. M., 1976, Introduction to Hydraulic Pumpinq, Kobe, Inc., Huntington Park, CA.
Zaba, J., 1968, Modern Oil Well Pumping, PennWell Publishing Co., Tulsa, OK.

The following two papers provide an opportunity to learn the recent developments in sucker rod pumping unit
computer modelling and sucker rod applications in heavy oil recovery.
1. Doty, D.R., and Z. Schmidt, 1983, "An Improved Model for Sucker Rod Pumping", SPEJ, Vol. 23, SPEAIME, p. 33-41.
2. Mourleval, J., 1982, "Long-Stroke Pump Boosts Heavy Oil Recovery", World Oil, Vol. 195, No. 6, p. 8390.
The following two API bulletins provide detailed information on dynamometer card interpretation and sucker rod
pumping systems design.
1. API Bulletin Containing Catalog of Analog Computer Dynamometer Cards, API BUL11L2 (1970).
2. API Bulletin Containing Sucker Rod Pumping System Design, API BUL11L3 (1970).


A = area of plunger, sq ft
B = structural imbalance, 1b
Br = buoyancy of rods in fluid, 1b
CLF = cyclic load factor
D = diameter, in
ES = pump efficiency, fraction
Er = elastic constant for rod string
Et = coefficient of elasticity for the tubing, in/1b ft
Ep = pump efficiency, fraction
Fo = weight of fluid, 1b
Fo/Skr = dimensionless rod stretch in air
F1 = weight of produced fluids, 1b
F1/Skr = dimensionless rod stretch in fluid
F3 = polished rod horsepower factor
F3/Skr = dimensionless polished rod horsepower
Fc = tapered rod frequency factor
G = specific gravity of the produced fluid, dimensionless
H = fluid level, ft
HPnp = nameplate horsepower, HP
I = effects of inertial and acceleration forces, 1b
L = tubing length, ft
M = torque provided by the counterweights, ft-lb
MPRL = minimum polished rod load, 1b


= dimensionless pump speed

PPRL = peak polished load, lb

PT = peak torque, 1b-in

PRHP = polished rod horsepower, HP

PD = pump displacement, B/D
S = polished rod stroke length, in
SA = maximum allowable rod stress, psi
SF = service factor
Smin = minimum rod stress, psi
Sp = stroke length, in
Sp/S = dimensionless plunger stroke
T = minimum tensile strength, psi
Ta = torque adjustment factor, traction
TF = torque factor, dimensionless
W = weight of rods in air, lb
Wrf = weight of the rod in fluid, lb

= crank angle, degree

= density of produced fluid, lb/cu ft


AE = engine-end piston area, sq in
Am = motor amperage, amps
AP = pump-end piston area, sq in
AR = rod cross-sectional area, sq in
CPF = closed power fluid system
Ep = pump-end efficiency, fraction
ED = engine-end displacement, B/D per SPM
Ee = engine-end efficiency, fraction
FOP = fluid operating level, ft
F1 = frictional pressure losses in power fluid line, psi
F2 = frictional pressure losses in power return line, psi

F3 = frictional pressure losses in production tubing, psi

Fp = frictional pressure losses in subsurface pump, psi
GLR = gas liquid ratio, scf/bbl
GOR = gas oil ratio, scf/bbl
G1 = hydrostatic gradient in power fluid tubing, psi/ft
G3 = hydrostatic gradient in commingled production tubing, psi/ft
G4 = hydrostatic gradient in production tubing, psi/ft
h1 = depth of the pump, ft
h4 = pump submergence depth, ft
KVA = kilovolt-amp
OPF = open power fluid system
PD = pump displacement, B/D
P/E = ratio of pump-end net area to engine-end net area
pFL = surface backpressure on the produced fluids, psi
pPR = surface pressure of power fluid return line, psi
PSD = pump setting depth, ft
pR = average reservoir pressure, psi
pwf = bottomhole flowing pressure, psi
ps = surface operating pressure, psi
p1 = pressure at inlet to pump-end of pump, psi
p2 = outlet pressure, psi
p3 = pump-end outlet pressure, psi
p4 = pump-end inlet pressure, psi
q = production rate, B/D
qm = maximum production rate, B/D
qpf = power fluid injection rate, B/D
S = pump speed, SPM

SPM = strokes per minute

TDH = total dynamic head, ft
Vs = surface voltage, volts (V)
Vm = motor voltage, volts (V)
Vc = cable voltage losses, volts (V)
Vcom = surface component voltage losses, volts (V)
Vt = transformer voltage losses, volts (V)