Real-Time Surveillance Saves One of Apache’s Biggest Producers in the Forties Field from Critical ESP Damage | Schlumberger
Case Study
Forties Field, United Kingdom, Europe, Offshore

Challenge: Maximize efficiency and minimize NPT for all ESP wells in the North Sea Forties field.

Solution: Use LiftWatcher real-time surveillance service to quickly identify performance issues, prevent equipment damage, and minimize downtime.

Results: Averted ESP damage from a critical deadheading event in the field’s biggest producer, restoring flow within 3 hours.

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Real-Time Surveillance Saves One of Apache's Biggest Producers in the Forties Field from Critical ESP Damage

Timely intervention enables production to resume within 3 hours

Maximize operational efficiency of ESP wells in Forties field

With 22.4 million barrels of oil equivalent produced in 2009, the North Sea Forties field accounted for approximately 11% of Apache’s worldwide production and comprised 7% of its year-end estimated proven reserves. The field uses ESPs for artificial lift; in June 2010, Apache announced that its new discovery, Maule reservoir, had commenced production at approximately 11,750 bbl/d of oil from Forties Alpha 5-4 (FA 5-4)—Apache North Sea’s biggest producer—with ESP at the time. Over the preceding few years, the company had actively sought opportunities to invest in facility upgrades and integrity-related projects to increase production efficiency and minimize unplanned downtime for the Forties field.

Monitor artificial lift systems round the clock

LiftWatcher real-time surveillance service was initiated as part of these upgrades to provide continuous monitoring of all ESP operating parameters in this field. Experienced engineers monitor alarms and alerts 24/7, 365 days a year, at one of many Schlumberger Artificial Lift Surveillance Centers (ALSCs). Data is streamed to the ALSC and the engineers review alarm events for all wellsite measurements, from motor temperature to continuous flow. They analyze data summaries, poll data on demand, identify probable causes of any performance drop, and quickly report remediation options for rapid implementation.

Restored flow from biggest producer within 3 hours

On August 12, 2010 at 16:00, an ALSC engineer noticed that the ESP on FA 5-4 was running below its target frequency and the well was not flowing. The engineer informed the Apache platform control room that a deadheading event had been observed and recommended increasing the pump frequency to 42 Hz. Platform personnel were also advised to check for possible restrictions above the ESP, at the wellhead or on the surface. When increasing the frequency from 39 Hz to 42 Hz produced no change, the ESP was manually shut down after consultation with the DESC design and evaluation services engineer for Apache. Further investigation revealed that the hand-actuated lower master valve on the wellhead was closed. Once the valve was reopened, the pump was restarted and the well resumed flowing at 19:00.

With the help of such successful real-time monitoring interventions and improved technology, Apache’s North Sea ESP operations had 64% fewer unplanned downtime events in 2010 and 91% fewer in 2011 compared with the best year before LiftWatcher service commenced.

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Surface data (above) and downhole data (below) recorded from well FA 5-4 in the North Sea Forties field.
"Unplanned downtime events continue to be reduced from 64% fewer in 2010 to 91% fewer in 2011." —Jeff Thomson, Apache UK North Sea, Operational Supervisor for Production
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