Frequent ESP stoppages are common in unconventional play
With about 365 ESP wells in the Permian Basin, an operator has long
experience with the challenges of maintaining oil production in unconventional
wells. Company engineers are accustomed to frequent ESP downtime caused by
issues such as power shortages, gas lock, insufficient speed, and stuck
For ESP events involving high temperatures, vibration, electrical load,
or a combination of these factors, rapid intervention is critical to reduce
stress on ESP components and maintain the system's run life. When shutdown is
necessitated by flowline or production concerns, stopping the ESP as soon as
practicable is necessary for minimizing the undesirable operating period.
However, mobilizing field service personnel to the remote wells (100 to 180
miles from the nearest field service experts) incurs risks and takes
time—about 7 hours per event. Even for planned shutdowns, service hours
and deferred production can accumulate rapidly.
To minimize the costs and risks of wellsite visits, the operator sought
an alternative means of intervening in ESP operations.
Surveillance and remote control protect equipment
Schlumberger proposed the Lift IQ service, which provides 24/7
surveillance of all artificial lift systems, preventing or resolving downtime,
undesirable operations, and failures. Experienced engineers at an Artificial
Lift Surveillance Center (ALSC) monitor and analyze data and can intervene in
real time through proprietary hardware. Four levels of service enable operators
to select the options that best suit their operations and economics.
Level 1 service was proposed for most of this operator's wells,
providing data visualization to inform its engineers' decisions about ESP
performance, maintenance, and improvements.
For the most critical, high-performing wells and for some wells known to
experience frequent shutdowns or require frequent trips, Level 2 services were
proposed, incorporating 24/7/365 monitoring and control. This higher service
level is designed to ensure rapid identification of problems and remote control
to enable immediate intervention and protect ESP equipment from potentially
damaging conditions. At this level, when surveillance engineers see data
indicating an artificial lift issue, they immediately e-mail recommendations to
operations personnel. For critical events requiring immediate action,
surveillance engineers are empowered to remotely intervene to avoid damage or
shutdowns, and follow up with operations personnel afterward.