Artificial lift’s importance highlighted in oil and gas publication

Artificial lift solutions such as the hydraulic jet pump will be increasingly vital for oil and gas producers as horizontal wells continue to become more common.

For the cover story of its June 2013 issue, the American Oil and Gas Reporter took an in-depth look at the extent to which the importance of artificial lift will increase as horizontal wells continue to become more central in domestic energy production.

The piece was authored by Cem Sarica, a professor of petroleum engineering at the University of Tulsa, and Cleon Dunham, president of the Artificial Lift Research and Development Council. In the article, the two experts explained that as more horizontal oil and gas wells are drilled to tap into unconventional plays, producers will face a growing need to make use of artificial lift solutions.

This need reflects artificial lift's importance for both actual production of hydrocarbons and gas well dewatering. Dunham and Sarica asserted that in an average hydraulic fracturing operation, only about 25 percent of the fracturing fluids injected downhole are recovered to the surface as the well begins producing, with the remaining liquids allowed to spread into the reservoir.

Fracturing activity may also bring a well into contact with water-bearing formations, resulting in water being produced continuously alongside fossil resources. Either of these situations can be problematic for a well operator.

Another complication stems from the fact that wells tapping into shale formations tend to be deep and have long horizontal sections with numerous fractures, which makes the task of pumping hydrocarbons to the surface highly energy intensive. Deploying the right artificial lift solutions can help ensure that production operations remain efficient, even in the face of geological obstacles.

The hydraulic jet pump offers an effective solution for producers facing challenges related to frac flowback or drill stem testing. The unit's versatile design allows it to be inserted into vertical, horizontal or deviated wells.

Maintenance needs are minimal because the jet pump has no downhole moving parts and retrieval for optimization can be performed through manipulation of surface valves and reverse circulation of fluid, which means there is no need to use a wire line or work over unit.

Jet pumps can even be deployed at sites where problems with the completion of well casing would cause other artificial lift solutions to be less effective.