Explainer | Three Artificial Lift Methods for Aging Wells

Upstream oil and gas producers are often looking to get increased efficiency and make their operations leaner, and never more so than in our current climate. One proven way to do this is to maximize production on the wells they currently have open through well stimulation. The more these existing assets produce, the better.

There are three primary ways to stimulate an aging well: Electric Submersible Pump, Gas Lift, and Plunger Lift.

Artificial Lift

Electric Submersible Pump (ESP) is a pump sent down directly into a well hole. Once submerged, the pump sits at the bottom of the hole and pumps fluid up. The disadvantages of this option are that it is more expensive and more fragile than the other two, so not many producers are using this option.

Gas Lift works by sending the low-pressure gas that comes out of a well through a compressor to be pressurized, then sending it back down into the well hole, usually through the annulus, to pressurize the well and send liquids back up. This is accomplished through the use of gas lift valves placed at calculated depths to inject the high pressure gas into the tubing, which lifts the liquids from that zone. The gas and liquid that comes out is separated and the gas is then returned to the compressor again to be recirculated back to the annulus.

Plunger Lift sytems use a piston as a mechanical interface between formation gas and produced liquids. During high flow rate, the plunger rests in the lubricator. As production decreases, liquids accumulate and the well begins to load. When the valve closes this stops the flow and the plunger drops through emulsion from its starting position to rest on the bumper. With the well shut in, the pressure builds in the annulus. When the casing pressure reaches its optimum pressure, the plunger lift controller tells the valve to open, allowing the plunger to return to the lubricator while removing the liquid from the tubing.

A key component of these stimulation methods is the control valve, and the Kimray R2L Adapter is a terrific option for this application. The Kimray R2L attaches to a quarter-turn actuator and can be used to control downhole flow. When combined to a flow meter it allows proportional control to achieve your desired flow rate.


Chris Mencor

Distribution Account Manager

Kimray, Inc