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Guidelines & Recommended Practices

Selection of Artificial Lift Systems

for Deliquifying Gas Wells
Prepared by Artificial Lift R&D Council
3.2 Use Artificial Lift Selection Tools
This section presents specific guidelines and recommended practices for using the artificial
lift selection tools to select a reasonable method or type of artificial lift for a particular well.

Choose the most likely candidate(s) with the qualitative screening tools
Map these systems on the depth vs. rate charts for your wells
Map your wells on the artificial lift performance envelope charts
Map your wells on the inflow vs. outflow charts
Check your choice(s) with the decision trees

Summary of Selection Tools: Methods of Deliquifying Gas Wells:

Selection of Artificial Lift Systems for Deliquifying Gas Wells

This chart is labeled as Coiled Tubing but it is not. It is for

regular tubing:

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Selection of Artificial Lift Systems for Deliquifying Gas Wells

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Plunger Lift:
How High a GLR is Required for Plunger Lift to be Feasible?
Plunger Gas Requirement:

400 scf/(bbl-1000)

Example: Well is 5000 feet deep and has GLR of 2500 scf/bbl
400 scf/ (bbl-100) X 5 = 2000 scf/bbl required
Actual GLR is 2500 scf/bbl so well has enough GLR for Plunger Lift

How High a Casing Operating Pressure if Required for Plunger Lift to be

Plunger Pressure Requirement:
CP is casing operating pressure or casing pressure build up during plunger cycle.
TP is tubing pressure during build up portion of plunger cycle
LP is the pressure top of tubing sees when plunger valve opens at surface.
CP must be 1 times the LP
If LP = 100 then CP must be 1 x 100 = 150 psi
More Conservative Gas Requirement to for Plunger Lift to be Feasible:
More Conservative Gas Requirement:
Require 1000 scf/(bbl-1000)
For slim hole or with packer in the well:

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Require 2000 scf/(bbl-1000)

Plunger: less than about 200 or 300 bbls liquid per day.
For below, the net operating pressure is the casing operating pressure (what casing pressure
builds to in approximately two hours) minus the line or separator pressure that is seen by the
well at the surface when the value opens.
Liquid production must be measured to see if the GLR required from the graph is more
(plunger works) or less (plunger predicted not to work). In general if this chart predicts that a
show plunger is OK then it probably is, and if it predicts that it may be marginal, the plunger
may still OK. Note this does not distinguish in what casing size is present.
400 Mscf/D and 50 BPD
GLR actual is 400000/50 = 8000 scf/bbl
Depth: 8000
Casing Operating Pressure: 300 psi
Line pressure : 50 psi
Read from graph: 4500 scf/bbl needed and 8000 actual so Plunger Should Work!

Plungers in Deviated Wells

25-35 degrees no problems.

Beyond 45 degrees may still be no problem.
Avoid build rate of more than 3 degrees per hundred feet.

Selection of Artificial Lift Systems for Deliquifying Gas Wells

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Application of Surfactants
For operation in the red zone at the bottom of the plots, surfactants will not work. For operation
below the regular Turner critical and above the dark or red zones, then Surfactants that will foam
water only will allow operation. (From Weatherford)

7/8s below:

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More reliable with cap string down tubing or chemicals down backside
However many applications use soap sticks down the tubing . This can be automated.
This is more reliable if water only
Initial cost Is not inexpensive, but is likely less than beam pumping.
Reduces required critical rate or velocity by ~2/3s for foaming water.
This figure is approximate and should be evaluated on case by case basis.

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Electrical Submersible Pumps (ESPs):


Conventional ESPs - use for 400 bpd or more.

For disposable ESPs may be used at 1000-2000 ft and lower cost.

Disposable ESPs can be less expensive than PCPs for shallow wells.
Variable Frequency Drives are outlawed in some areas due to harmonics.

Solids: can cause wear

ESPs can gas lock if gas present above the perforations.

ESPs are somewhat less energy efficient than sucker rod pumping or PCPs.
Normally it is necessary to pull the tubing to service an ESP.

ESPs are subject to electrical transients that may result in downhole failures.
Cables are subject to light end liquid and gasses, H2S, failures.

It is necessary to avoid starts and stops.

There are new low volume stages from Centrilift and Schlumberger ~100 bpd.

Centrilift and Schlumberger has published low volume applications even below 100 bpd
o High temperature motor trim with the pump set below the perforations.
o Recirculating systems with the pump below the perforations.
o Shrouds with unit below perforations when clearances allow.
Centrilift has ESP through tubing installation, but for larger tubing sizes.

See http://www.polyflowinc.com/
They have a pretty good case study for CBM ESP using the flexible conduit with ESPs.
(informed by L Rowlan, Echometer)

Velocity Strings

Thermoflex velocity strings are lined with Fortron polyphenylene sulfide, which reduces
friction to gas flow, lowers pressure drop, and provides resistance to acids and hydrocarbons.
They also contain polyaramid fiber layer with Nylon 6 extruded over it and have smooth
surface that lessens paraffin build-up. Inert products withstand brines, condensates, and
hydrocarbons; come in 1 to 2 3/8 in. dia; and withstand temperatures to 250F.

Use Nodal Analysis.

Calculate flowing BHP from tubing/properties/rate.

Check to see if the flow rate is above critical over entire string?

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Is it intersecting the IPR or flowing above the minimum in the tubing curve?

Is the end of the velocity string set near perforations?

Will the beneficial effects of the velocity string last long enough to be economical?

Velocity strings in the range of 1.5 diameter are somewhat common and they work,
but do their benefits last as long as plunger for instance.
If the liquid rate is OK for use of a plunger it could be better.

For plunger perhaps need less than 10-20 bpd.

If the liquid rate is greater then perhaps consider velocity string on case by case


Use Nodal Analysis.

Calculate rate and flowing BHP from Nodal Analysis.

Can the producing wellhead pressure (Pwh) be lowered to value so the wells flow rate is
above critical?
Can production rate be substantially increased with lower a Pwh?
Will it last?

Once production ceases, adding compression may not bring well back without special kick-off
procedures such as swabbing , etc.
Surface compression helps plunger lift, velocity strings, and gas-lift, and helps the flow of gas
up the annulus with pumping systems.
It may also it may work as a standalone method for a long period.
Compression helps keep liquids in the vapor state and can evaporate all free water in
Evaporation works only with fresh water.
Compression can be for a single well or field wide.
Because of the difficulty of getting low pressures to all wells in field wide compression, some
single well compressors may be added in a field wide application.

Beam (Sucker Rod) Pump:


Strong candidate if the pump can set below the perforations.

If not, then not so good.

If the pump can be set below the perforations, it may be possible to produce 90% of max rate
if within depth/rate envelope.
This is more costly than many other method, both CAPEX and OPEX for energy.
More energy consumption.

Poor performance if well gassy and the pump must set above the perforations.
Run program such as Qrod (www.Echometer.com or www.alrde.com) to evaluate design.

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For smaller casing, shut in casing before starting pump-off control (POC) cycle and then open
casing later in pumping portion of cycle.
For small casing, use small rods, perhaps no anchor for small pumps and shallow depths.
Small pump can be used that translate to smaller surface pumping units and lower initial
For maximum production, use a surface compressor to compress annulus to low pressure or
the production will not be as much as desired, even with low fluid levels in the annulus.

Progressing Cavity Pump (PCP):

Can get 90% of possible rate if the Depth/Rate values are within the published depth
Production may be better if the depth less than 4000-5000 ft.

PCPs handle some sand.

They have good energy efficiency.

Compare to other methods, they may be somewhat lower cost than other pumping systems.
They have a low profile.

They are poor with high temperature (above 200 oF)

They are poor with high aromatics in the liquids.

In many fields run lives are lower than beam units but perhaps can be improved with good
They work better and last longer if a constant fluid level is maintained over the pump intake
and there is no pumping off.


Input a total gas rate of critical rate x ~1.4 into a Nodal Program and observe flowing BHP
possible for gas-lift feasibility.
Gas-lift handles some sand.

Can inject gas below the packer (Schlumbergers Perflift, Weatherford, and others have
system for this)
Gas-lift will not liquid load

Must have a gas supply available, or a single well compressor.

For larger liquid rates, designs are similar to those for conventional oil wells.

Inject Water:

Must have a disposal zone below for water only.

The disposal zone must take water without too much injection pressure.

This method must meet the requirements of regulatory agencies

Eliminates water hauling and disposal charges.

Selection of Artificial Lift Systems for Deliquifying Gas Wells

CBM Lift Comparisons:

This chart is a coal bed methane (CBM) lift method comparison from Weatherford..

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