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World Oil

Originally appeared in the Digital edition of MAY 2014 issue, pages D141-D144. Used with permission.


Hydraulic jet pumps prove worth

for lifting early production
full production potential. Libertys Bak-
ken oil wells share a similar profile, con-
sisting of 10,000-ft vertical sections and
10,000-ft laterals and, on average, 35 frac
stages per well. These stages are stimulat-
ed, using a plug-and-perf method, versus
sliding sleeve technology, and with frac-
turing fluids composed of 100% slickwa-
ter and a ceramic proppant.
Like many shale operators in the Bak-
ken and elsewhere, Liberty experienced
high initial production (IP) rates from
these wells, ranging from 1,500 to 4,500
barrels of fluid per day (bfpd). However,
these rates are not sustainable for long,
and, within the span of three to nine
months, a wells production rate may drop
off quickly to one-sixth of its initial rate.
This steep production decline means that
operators have to be ready with some type
of artificial lift solution within months of
a wells first production.
Rod pumping represents, perhaps,
the most-established, well-understood
Although they were once The continued global demand for oil artificial lift method in North Americas
relegated to frac flowback and gas compels operators to keep search- onshore market. The vast majority of ar-
operations, jet pumps are ing for new means of boosting production tificial lift wells under production in the
now showing potential from their wells. Whether a field has been Bakken employ rod pumping, largely due
in production for only a few months, or to the institutional knowledge and reli-
as an artificial lift method several decades, maximizing production, ability of the system.
to maximize production typically, means employing one of several However, these systems suffer from
potential. One Denver-based artificial lift methods. operational challenges that limit their
operator has recorded While a wide variety of well-established ability to help a well reach its full pro-
a first-year incremental artificial lift methods existssucker-rod duction potential. The advent of long
cash flow improvement of pumping, electrical submersible pump- laterals, and many frac stages per lateral,
ing (ESPs) and gas lift are but a fewthe places unique demands on any artificial
approximately $850,000
choice of which type to deploy depends lift systemdemands that change too
per well by using jet pumps on several factors, including the remaining quickly for sucker rods to keep pace with.
instead of rod pumps. production potential of the field, operat- The typical production profile for a shale
ing costs, and the level of complexity with well follows a trend of rapid decline from
a given system. In many onshore regions, IP rates in the first year or two, followed
CHRIS CLARK, Liberty Resources, and such as the Bakken shale in the U.S., the by a more gradual production decrease
RYAN KOSMICKI, Weatherford choice often boils down to cost and confi- through later years, Fig. 1.
dence, with well-established methods win- In general, rod-pump systems are not
ning the vast majority of the work. designed to optimize production during
Liberty Resources has, however, taken rapid rate decline. Rod-pumped wells
a different approach to selecting an artifi- may have a fluid-over-pump level of be-
cial lift solution for its oil wells in the Bak- tween 3,000 ft and 5,000 ft for sustained
A Liberty Resources production site in the
ken, focusing on a less-established system periods, during the early production stag-
Bakken shale play. that helps the companys wells reach their es of Bakken wells. This scenario leaves a
World Oil/MAY 2014D141

Fig. 1. A representative production decline curve for a shale well. Fig. 2. A jet pump building in the Bakken shale (image courtesy of
Operators are challenged with finding the best artificial lift solution Liberty Resources).
that will adequately handle the transition between the steep and
plateau sections of the decline curve, in a way that optimizes

Produced fluid


great deal of production in the well, at any exposed to solids or gas. Gas lift methods Because of these benefits, jet pump
given time, and a tremendous amount of are, typically, not suitable for early-stage usage is expanding beyond production
cash flow downhole. production, because newer fields, or sin- operations. They are finding increased
The option of simply using a larger rod gle-well pads, may not produce sufficient acceptance for frac flowback operations,
pump to lift more fluids out of the well is volumes of the gas required. to remove frac fluids, proppant and frac-
not possible for the operators field appli- This prompted Liberty to investi- tured formation rock from the newly cre-
cations, which include ambient downhole gate the feasibility of using hydraulic jet ated fracture network.
temperatures as high as 250F, and highly pumps, for artificial lift needs, in the early When installed and operated properly,
brackish formation water, with a density production stages of various wells. This jet pumps efficiently optimize production
of roughly 10 lbm/gal and chloride con- method works by pumping power fluid during early well life, thus improving well
tent of 120,000 ppm. These conditions typically oil or water produced from the economics at an operating cost compa-
place a great deal of stress on rod pump reservoirdown the tubing, via a sur- rable to other forms of lift. The pumps are
systems, which are challenged with trying face triplex pump. The fluid then travels then, sometimes, but not always, replaced
to lift a high-density fluid up a 10,000-ft through the downhole jet pump, which with other lift technologies.
vertical section to surface, at rates suffi- is equipped with a nozzle-throat Venturi Operators will be able to effectively
cient enough to pump off the well. combination. The fluid travels through walk down the production decline
The continual up-and-down move- this nozzle, creating a low-pressure Ven- curve, as seen in Fig. 1, and more closely
ment of the sucker rods in these challeng- turi effect at the discharge of the nozzle. match the wells true production capabil-
ing wellbore environments, typically leads This low pressure allows the produced ity. To periodically resize the throat and
to fatigue failure scenarios, increasing the fluid to enter the jet pump. The pro- nozzle combination, a jet pump is eas-
frequency of workovers to replace pumps, duced fluid and power fluid both enter ily cycled out of the well. The modified
rods and tubing. This problem is further the throat, where they are mixed together. pump can then be cycled back down the
compounded by the heavy-brine formation The mixed flow then goes to the diffuser, well, with a configuration that optimizes
water, which deposits substantial quanti- where sufficient static pressure is recov- well deliverability, in short periods of
ties of salt and scale on the tubulars and ered, such that the combined fluids can time, without the need for an intervention
sucker rods, further shortening the time be lifted to the surface, Fig. 2. or a different artificial lift mechanism.
between interventions. Early in a wells rod Like other hydraulic systems, such as Once IP rates have dropped and stead-
lift application, up to four workovers per reciprocating piston pumps or downhole ied into a plateau phase, there is less eco-
year can be required, at an average cost of turbines, jet pumps work effectively in nomic incentive to continue fine-tuning
$100,000 per workover. The operator was both shallow and deep wells (well depth the artificial lift system to optimize pro-
eager for a less-costly artificial lift solution, ranges of 500 ft to 20,000 ft are not un- duction. The operator may then decide
with increased production results. common). They also have a wide operat- to transition to a rod-pump system with
ing range, in terms of flowrate, working smaller units, which are more than ad-
JET PUMP POTENTIAL reliably in wells producing as little as tens equate to handle ongoing production de-
A number of other artificial lift op- of bfpd to more than 35,000 bfpd. These clines at a cost-effective price point.
tions, such as ESPs and gas lift, can move pumps have no downhole moving parts
fluid out of the wellbore more effectively (i.e. no mechanical wear), and allow for READY FOR THE FIELD
than sucker rods. However, these meth- more effective and efficient addition of Liberty worked with the service pro-
ods have their limitations. ESPs are prone freshwater and production chemical treat- vider to field-trial jet pumps in 14 Bak-
to limited operability, or outright failure, if ments into the wellbore. ken oil wells, beginning in mid-2012. Ini-
D142MAY 2014/

tially, each well followed the same general

installation and operational protocols. Fig. 3. Individual cumulative production curves for each of the 68 rod-pumped wells
Once all stages in the lateral were stimu- (red curves) in one of Libertys Bakken assets. A type curve (in black) represents the
mathematical average of the individual production curves.
lated, and the frac plugs were drilled out,
the initial completion hardware was run 160,000
in-hole, consisting of an 18-ft seal assem-
bly with two bonded seals to land in the 140,000
700 MBOE
polished bore receptacle of the liner top type curve
packer. This hardware also consisted of a

Cumulative oil production, bbl

crossover, a standing valve seat nipple and 100,000
WXO sliding sleeve.
After the completion assembly was 80,000
set, the well was produced under natural 60,000
reservoir pressure, until loading occurred.
At this point, the well was placed on jet- 40,000
pump lift by first rigging up and deploy-
ing slickline to open the sliding sleeve,
dropping a standing valve and, finally, 0
dropping the jet pump downhole and ac- 0 60 120 180 240 300 360 420 480 540 600
Cumulative producing days
tivating it.
During the initial installations, the
operator and Weatherford discovered 160,000 Fig. 4. A
some challenges with the jet pump de- comparison of five
140,000 jet-pumped wells
ployment that prevented the artificial with their type
lift system from operating at its opti- 120,000 curve counterparts
Cumulative oil production, bbl

mal potential. These issues included a 100,000

(grey curves),
which represent
50% success rate in opening the sliding the expected
sleeves, due to the presence of debris in 80,000 production, if the
the annulus, and a misalignment of the wells had been
60,000 Incremental oil above type curve on rod pump.
jet pump discharge ports with the slid- Berger 7-6: 7,700 BO in 188 days on jet pump Once jet pumping
40,000 Cornabean: 14,000 BO in 167 days on jet pump
ing sleeve holes. Additional challenges Sylte 10-3: 10,800 BO in 207 days on jet pump commences, each
arose from a hole in the tubing above the 20,000 Sylte 15-22: 12,900 BO in 208 days on jet pump well experiences
Berger 9-4: 17,105 BO in 257 days on jet pump an incremental
pump caused by erosional wear; solids in 0 increase in its
the power fluid (which was not filtered) 0 30 60 90 120 150 180 210 240 270 300 330 360 390 420 production rate over
Cumulative producing days the expected rod
that caused plugging of the nozzle; and
Berger 7-6 before jet pump Sylte 10-3 before jet pump pump rate (dashed
well slugging that yielded large pressure Cornabean before jet pump Sylte 15-22 before jet pump curves).
swings at the pump. Decline curves Berger 9-4 after jet pump
Solutions included snubbing into the Berger 7-6 after jet pump Sylte 10-3 after jet pump
Cornabean after jet pump Sylte 15-22 after jet pump
tubing open-ended and producing un- Berger 9-4 before jet pump
til well output declined, and pulling the
tubing to install a standard, ported subJet
Pump BHA, in place of the sliding sleeve. COMPARING RESULTS keeping the other parameters the same.
A heavy-wall tubing sub and blast joint To gain a better understanding of just Figure 4 shows such a comparison for five
were installed above the ported sub, and how much additional production uplift jet pump wells versus the type curves gen-
inline filters were installed on the surface was achieved with the jet pumps over the erated, if these same wells had been run on
pump discharge. Finally, a 23/8-in. dip- sucker rod systems, Liberty Resources rod pump. In each case, the jet pump wells
tube was run into the curve to an inclina- conducted a type-curve analysis. Type exhibit an incremental oil production im-
tion of approximately 55. curves, which plot cumulative oil produc- provement above their type curves, rang-
These solutions were in place by the tion (y-axis) against cumulative produc- ing from 7,700 bbl to more than 17,000 bbl
ninth installation, thus ensuring that ing days (x-axis), were plotted for each of of additional oil produced.
all subsequent jet-pumped wells were the 68 wells. A mathematical average type Of the 14 wells placed on jet pump to
brought online with minimal running curve of all 68 wells was then obtained, date, 10 have generated sufficient data to
and tripping time. The majority of the with an initial (30-day) production rate compare the base production levels to
first nine wells were also worked over, to of 925 bopd, a b factor of 1.57, an initial the incremental uplift. Liberty recorded a
change their BHAs to the new design. Af- decline of 80% and an exponential tail of first-year incremental cash flow improve-
ter the workovers, each well demonstrat- 6.5%, Fig. 3. ment of approximately $850,000 per well,
ed measurable and sustained production The analysis continues by compar- by implementing jet pumps instead of rod
increases over previous assemblies. Upon ing the cumulative production of wells pumps. This is a net value, assuming a
pulling and inspecting the tubulars, little- on jet pumps to the shape of type curves 100% working interest, and 80% revenue
to-no salt or scale was observed. obtained by adjusting the 30-day IP rates, interest for the company and $95/bbl oil.
World Oil/MAY 2014D143

the fresh water is more likely to sit on top of pump to run at 90% or greater of its capac-
Fig. 5. Porpoising of the long lateral the fluid column, rather than mixing with it ity, while maintaining a constant pressure
sections in Libertys wells creates slugs of
gas and water that periodically enter the to dilute the salt content. by making real-time adjustments to the
pump, which causes variations in pump Jet pumps offer a similar mixing effi- pump rate. By running the pump closer
pressure discharge of up to 2,000 psi. ciency in the downhole addition of pro- to its potential, without fear of large and
duction treatment chemicals, as treatment potentially damaging pressure swings, the
formulations, such as corrosion inhibi- well should experience higher production
tor, biocide and oxygen scavenger, can be rates and increased cumulative output.
pumped downhole and into the jet pump The service provider has run jet pump
with the power fluid. One can easily verify units with PLC systems in North Ameri-
that the right amount of treatment chemi- can wells to address this specific issue.
cal has been introduced, or if changes to The solution has significantly decreased
the injection rate are required, by analyz- downtime, due to the high/low-pressure
ing fluid samples pulled from the separa- discharge kills, thereby reducing non-
tors. In rod-pumped wells, these chemicals productive time while simultaneously in-
Due to further refinements in the installa- are slowly introduced down the backside creasing production rates.
tion and operation of these jet pump sys- of the tubing from the surface. While all installations to date have
tems, the operator expects the systems to Liberty is also investigating the feasi- been in individual wells, Liberty envi-
achieve an incremental revenue increase bility of using jet pumps to counteract the sions employing a larger surface pump
of $900,000 per well in the second year. effect of slug flow that arises from the por- system to lift multiple wells on a pad for
poising of the 2-mi-long lateral sections in greater CAPEX savings.
FINE-TUNING OTHER FUNCTIONS these wells. The buildup of fluids at the
The use of jet pumps provides addition- low points of the porpoising wellbore CHRIS CLARK is a production
al operational benefits, beyond improving results in wide variations in water cut, manager at Liberty Resources,
a wells production capacity. Due to the gas-to-liquids ratios, and, ultimately, the LLC. He has been with Liberty
for two years, but he has over
high brine content of the produced water, intake pressure at the pump, Fig. 5. 17 years of industry experience
these wells are treated daily, with up to 50 Overcoming this problem in the past as a petroleum engineer. Mr.
Clark graduated from the
bbl of fresh water to dilute the salt and re- meant running the pumps at a much lower Colorado School of Mines in 1996 with a BS
duce the risk of salt and scale deposition rate, which translated to a lower-than-pos- degree in petroleum engineering.
downhole. In a jet-pumped well, this water sible production rate. This problem can be
can be added downhole easily, by mixing it remedied by linking the surface pumping business development
at the surface with the fluid used to power system to a process logic control (PLC) manager, has been with
the pump. Contrast this to a rod-pump sce- system. The PLC system programs the in- Weatherford since 2008. He
started in Tulsa, Okla., in ALS
nario, which requires adding 50 bbl of fresh jection pump to run at a constant pressure, sales and then accepted a
water down the backside of the tubing, and rather than a constant rate, which is the typ- hydraulic sales position in 2010,
hoping that it will mix efficiently with the ical means of running this lifting method. in Denver, Colo. He spent a little over three
years in hydraulic sales in Denver and then
produced fluids downhole. Because many Instead of pumping at a safety margin accepted the position of hydraulic U.S. business
rod-pump wells contain 3,000 ft to 5,000 ft of 50% of pump capacity, to avoid wide development manager in 2013.
of produced water sitting above the pump, swings in BHP, the PLC would allow the

Article copyright 2014 by Gulf Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Not to be distributed in electronic or printed form, or posted on a website, without express written permission of copyright holder.
D144MAY 2014/