American Oil and Gas Reporter - September 2020 - 79

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SpecialReport: Permian Powerhouse

New Technologies Improve Artificial Lift
By Danny Boyd
Priority one for operators during the
summer was restarting wells that had
been shut in last spring during the depths
of the COVID-19 shutdown. With those
wells now back on line, the focus for
Permian Basin operators is shifting to
incrementally restarting drilling programs,
as evidenced by Texas Railroad Commission data. In August, the RRC says, it
issued 228 permits to drill new wells in
Permian counties, which was a consecutive
stairstep up from 205 issued in July, 180
in June and 139 in May.
Like never before, Permian operators
are relying on their producing assets to
generate the cash flows to drill and complete news wells (for August, RRC reports
793 new oil and gas well completions,
up from 576 in May). The focus on operating within cash flow and the need to
drill and complete new wells to offset
depletion in Midland and Delaware basin
tight oil plays are putting a premium on
technologies that can reduce production
costs or optimize production volumes, or
preferably both, to maximize revenues.
Fortunately, new artificial lift solutions
are being introduced that accomplish the
twin goals of lowering per-barrel cost
while increasing daily production outputs
and recovery rates over time. Examples
include smart downhole electric submersible pumps and monitoring technologies, compression units purpose-engineered for high-pressure gas lift, and
high-capacity long-stroke beam pumps
and high-rate gas lift systems.
Smaller-Diameter ESP Motors
With the Permian Basin accounting
for the lion's share of ChampionX Corporation's electrical submersible pump
business, the company is busy helping
operators get production up to speed and
optimize output through smaller-diameter
ESP motors and cutting-edge surface
monitoring systems, says Senior Technical
Manager Chuck Wheeler.
While he says Permian operators will
continue to require ongoing innovations
in ESPs and other artificial lift methods
to meet production optimization goals
in a down market. Wheeler adds that the
overall resilience of many unconventional
Permian wells has been a very pleasant
surprise as operators and service compa-

nies have brought shut-in wells and equipment back to life.
"In some cases, wells have come back
on and actually produced more oil than
expected," he points out. "Often, surprises
in the oil field are negative, but this one
happened to be positive. I think we are
still learning about idling and restarting
wells, but the experience has reinforced
a lot of things that were already considered
best practices."
The blocking and tackling of ESP service remains vital, with acute interest placed
on proper pump sizing, installation and
startup to ensure a long run life from
initial production through the early decline
phase before operators have to consider
changes down hole, according to Wheeler.
Permian horizontal wells decline rapidly over their first several months on
production, requiring operators to switch
out artificial lift systems as rates decline.
Although commodity prices are weighing
heavily on operational and economic considerations in deciding when to switch
one form of artificial lift with another,
decline rates continue to dictate when a
change must be made, Wheeler says.
Some operators tend to shift from ESP
to rod pump without an intermediate lift
method to take advantage of existing
electrical infrastructure at the surface. In
other cases, he explains, operators who

have opted for gas lift initially often go
to some type of gas-assisted plunger lift
to utilize the gas infrastructure in place.
"ESP is still the workhorse during the
initial production phase, when rates are
at their peak," Wheeler says. "High
amounts of sand and free gas, as well as
keeping the systems operating through
rapidly changing well conditions, continue
to be the primary concerns for ESP run
life in the Permian."
Because of customer demands, advances will continue in pump technology
through computer modeling of pump
stages, he suggests. Continued improvements in centrifugal pump stages already
allow for the pumping of larger amounts
of free gas while resisting gas locking,
Wheeler continues. Additional improvements have been developed in variable
speed drive software that quickly and automatically control pump systems with
the use of algorithms that read and digest
data from the downhole sensor and adjust
performance, especially during periods
of high gas production or slugging.
ChampionX's latest offerings include
the AFFIRMED™ PowerFit small-diameter ESP motor and LOOKOUT™ monitoring and optimization service, Wheeler
announces. "Because of innovation, operators no longer need to trade off ESP
horsepower for downhole space in the
casing." he says. "They also have new

ChampionX's AFFIRMED™ PowerFit small-diameter ESP motor is designed to provide
the same horsepower output as larger-diameter motors, but fit easily in wells completed
with 51⁄2-inch casing, eliminating the need to install multiple 33⁄4-inch motors in tandem to
generate the required horsepower and ensuring sufficient clearance for a capillary tubing
string to deliver treatment chemicals below the motor.

SEPTEMBER 2020 79



American Oil and Gas Reporter - September 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of American Oil and Gas Reporter - September 2020

Contents
American Oil and Gas Reporter - September 2020 - Intro
American Oil and Gas Reporter - September 2020 - 1
American Oil and Gas Reporter - September 2020 - 2
American Oil and Gas Reporter - September 2020 - 3
American Oil and Gas Reporter - September 2020 - 4
American Oil and Gas Reporter - September 2020 - Contents
American Oil and Gas Reporter - September 2020 - 6
American Oil and Gas Reporter - September 2020 - 7
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