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Technical Paper: Case Studies of Optimizing the Artificial Lift Strategy for Reactivating Abandoned Wells in a Mature Field

Society: SPE
Paper Number: 187363
Presentation Date: 2017
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Abstract

At a time when oilfield economics preclude new drilling, one way to achieve economic goals is to strategically reopen abandoned wells. Choosing the artificial lift strategy that best suits the economic constraints for the reactivation of abandoned wells is a challenge. This paper uses real-world field data examples to introduce a new methodology that replaces opinion and guesswork with objective and quantifiable comparisons to drive strategic decisions that balance technical and economic concerns. A new method to simplify and quantify the development of that strategy can have wide-ranging impact for mature fields around the world. The study uses a sample of 10 wells initially completed with electrical submersible pumps (ESPs) with different production characteristics and well profiles from a mature field in South America.

Reactivating abandoned wells is particularly challenging because the reasons for abandonment are complex; production challenges ranging from deep installations, low production rates as well as flow assurance related problems lead to premature equipment failures and final well abandonment. As economic conditions change and new technology is developed, the abandoned wells' value potential may also change. This paper uses the sample wells to demonstrate a new method of selecting optimal artificial lift systems for highly complex projects.

A new method of artificial lift system selection provides a quantifiable, objective means of studying well and field economic and technical potential. The method balances economic factors with specific well application considerations to optimize performance to suit an operator's strategic plan. The data in the paper demonstrate that the method can give a solution for a challenging environment of previous abandoned wells by selecting the artificial lift method that maximizes reliability and performance under specific operating conditions. After the workflow implementation, the sample data was classified into two groups where:

  • Group 1: Wells where the ESP systems are the best strategy—with to special design considerations and equipment configuration to manage production challenges.
  • Group 2: Wells where hydraulic pumping units are the best solution—with special attention to rod design and downhole equipment to meet the production challenges.

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    A workflow was designed for selecting the optimal type of artificial lift for reactivating abandoned wells.
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