Novel Design for Recovering Hydrocarbons for Deviated and Horizontal Wells

Physical Sciences : Petroleum

Available for licensing

Inventor

  • Paul Bommer , Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering

Background/unmet need

During the production of hydrocarbons from a completed well, the natural pressure of a reservoir eventually decreases to the point that it becomes too low to force fluid from the producing zone to the surface. To address this inevitability, artificial lift is used, most commonly done through pumps.

Artificial-lift methods that use pumps have a surface power source to drive a downhole mechanical assembly to generate a pressure gradient between the exit point of the pump and the surface to enable the transport of fluids to the surface. Various types of downhole pumps can be inserted into the wellbore to increase the differential pressure between the reservoir and the wellbore and thereby increase the rate of fluid flow into the wellbore. However, there is currently no existing technology that allows for the combination of two lift types and potentially improved efficiency.

Invention Description

Researchers at the Center for Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin have created a simple yet functional design that connects a downhole electrical submersible pump (ESP), located at the toe of the wellbore, with a beam pump or progressive cavity pump (PCP) working from the surface. The use of two pumps reduces the wear on a single pump, eliminating adverse effects that would require additional maintenance and costs. The design not only connects one pump to another, but also allows for the more efficient separation of gas and liquid fluids than current methods.

Benefits/Advantages

  • Simple connector design that is low-cost and low-maintenance
  • More efficient separation of liquid and gas flows than current methods
  • Eliminates need for additional equipment, such as a tubing anchor

Features

  • Artificial-lift design that combines an ESP and a beam pump or PCP
  • Allows for enhanced fluid flow from horizontal wells that are pressure-depleted
  • Pumps low-volume and low-pressure liquids to produce an economic quantity of oil/gas
  • Connector structure can be modified to suit wellbore properties

Market potential/applications

According to Markets and Markets Research, the global artificial lift market is worth $7.62 billion as of 2016 and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 4.91% until 2021. Suppliers of downhole pumps can utilize the proposed pump connector design to offer a more productive method of artificial lift to oilfield service companies.

Development Stage

Lab/bench prototype

IP Status

  • 1 U.S. patent application filed