Jay Miller, Production Lift Companies
Kenneth Estrada, Concho

The purpose of this paper is to discuss the history of different gas lift design methods and the theory behind a new design method.  In January 2019, Production Lift Companies and Concho Resources ran a new gas lift design method in two unconventional wells in the Permian Basin.  This new method is designed to exploit the initial high bottom hole pressure in unconventional wells to produce higher rates that, before now, were only possible with an ESP.  This life of well design will also follow the well’s decline and efficiently produce the well at lower rates.  When completed correctly, the well can be switched to PAGL, Plunger Lift or GAPL without pulling the tubing.  

The traditional gas lift design method for unconventional wells is to run unloading valves until you reach a minimum spacing of 500’ (Fig. 1) and then continue the 500’ spacing to the packer.  The 500’ spacing was adopted by the industry in the late 80’s as “Best Practice” and has remained the standard today.