MTUs reverse declining well production | SLB

Mobile testing units enable downhole jet pumps to reverse declining well production

South America, Offshore

A surface pressure boosting service designed with Production ExPRESS™ rapid production response solutions delivered cost-effective reservoir evaluation and revitalized mature wells experiencing rapid depletion in a South American oil field.

A consortium of oilfield operators needed a rapid response for declining production in a giant field of mature wells. Like many wells in the region, they produce from multizone reservoirs and rely on artificial lift solutions. Increasing production in mature wells that require artificial lift can involve complex and time-consuming methods, such as workover rig intervention. Because each well has its own unique surface characteristics, determining the best lift solution is critical. Adding to the challenge, the consortium had multiple contractors working on the same job and needed to improve efficiencies such as standardized reporting, consistent documentation, and centralized communications.

With its expertise in monitoring and assessing well behavior in complex environments, SLB helped coordinate, design, and execute a cost-effective solution that would enable the most efficient fluid recovery. Serving as the focal point of the operation, SLB experts also designed a solution to increase service quality, ensure improved reliability, and enable more productive time.

The team used third-party mobile testing units (MTUs) to rapidly evaluate the wells' reservoir potential. For more than 30 years, mobile testing units (MTUs) installed with hydraulic jet pumps have performed efficient heavy oil recovery in the region. These downhole pumps require fluid circulation to effectively push hydrocarbon to the surface. This production boosting technique uses an MTU to receive the fluid at surface and then separate and inject water back into the jet pump to activate the lifting mechanism. The produced oil is then stored in tanks and transported to production lines or facilities.

The team's objective was to obtain timely valuable data to determine whether a well could produce permanently using the MTU setup or an installed ESP. MTUs provide a clear picture of a well’s reservoir potential and deliver rapid evaluations within a matter of days. If a well is determined to require an ESP, the well data is analyzed to aid in designing the optimal pump for each specific well. ESP design optimization improves the well production, and thus is one of the key results of the data review and consulting process. 

Mobile testing unit installed by SLB to apply surface pressure boosting in South America.
Within a matter of days, the surface pressure boosting technique using advanced surface well test equipment on MTUs enabled rapid evaluation of the well’s reservoir potential.

Based on its evaluations, SLB proposed two solutions:

  • MTU installation: For low-flow-rate-producing wells where high-rated ESPs are not suitable or are unnecessary. Thus, the wells produce permanently and cost effectively with the support of jet pumps.
  • ESP pump installation: For assessing well behavior using the MTU package. The most suitable parameters are determined for the potential future ESP design and installation.

This work involved operations for up to 12 MTUs (one per well) and ESP design evaluations of approximately 25 wells per year. The MTUs enabled the continuity of permanent producing wells that would have otherwise experienced shut down or further decline, and as a result, enabled production by approximately 2 million bbl over a three-year period.

The team increased service quality, safety, and reliability and delivered consistent support after merging criteria among MTU contractors and streamlining communications through a single management focal point. Constant support is delivered with standardized documentation, processes, reports, and operations—delivering faster, efficient, and personalized service for evaluation and production jobs.

Products Used