When I came into the oil and gas industry in 1999, one of my first assignments as an ESP Field Engineer focused on optimizing challenging assets in remote locations. The process back then involved hours of driving from well site to well site to troubleshoot and stabilize ESP operation. Most assets had amp charts and switchboards, and a small percentage had variable speed drives (VSDs) and downhole monitoring tools. One of the most important lessons I learned during this period was making sure that control parameters for each asset were set for stable operation over time, because the next asset could be hundreds of miles away, which meant additional hours of travel if a previously visited asset faulted.
Much has changed over the years with the introduction of unconventional assets. VSDs and downhole monitoring tools are now standard equipment. Remote monitoring and control allows us to diagnose changes in system performance in real-time to fine-tune the ESP system for maximum production and reliability. What once took days of driving to reach a group of assets for performance analysis and optimization can now be accomplished remotely in a fraction of the time.
While these advancements have allowed us to drastically improve efficiency, they haven’t changed the fact that well performance is in constant flux and ESP parameters must be monitored and adjusted to match constantly changing conditions.
Nowhere is this more apparent than in unconventional assets where system performance must be aligned with decline curves, increasing gas oil ratios (GOR), and higher gas volume fractions (GVF). It is extremely important to achieve initial stable operation by starting up at an optimum speed, which keeps the ESP within the recommended range of operation, and controls the rate of drawdown. At Summit ESP, we accomplish this by working remotely with the technician on location at the initial start-up, and then by closely monitoring production data and draw down over time.
Part of the Summit ESP Gold Standard of Service is working with the operator to ensure optimum ESP operation at all times. This collaborative approach yields increased production and run time. Motor cooling, pump load, and casing/tubing pressures in real-time provide information to adjust the system to optimize asset performance.
Figure 1 trend data illustrates stable operation achieved using this approach. Key performance indicators (KPI) include production data analysis, system uptime evaluation, and stable system operation.
In summary, Digital Oilfield capabilities like remote monitoring are improving our ability to maximize production from unconventional assets. However, careful trend analysis and good old-fashioned fine-tuning of the ESP system over time are still required to ensure optimal operation 24/7. That’s why at Summit ESP, we’ve adopted the mentality that “optimization never sleeps”.
Mr. Harryman’s experience includes work as field service manager, applications engineer, and artificial lift optimization specialist at Schlumberger (Reda), Borets-Weatherford and now with Halliburton Artificial Lift.