Osman Nunez-Pino, Liberty Lift Solutions, LLC
During the hydraulic fracturing age, hydraulic jet pumps have seen an increase of installation numbers across the most prolific unconventional well fields in the United States of America, as well as in overseas oil and gas fields. Its simplicity, reliability, robustness, and adaptability have made the jet pump one of the known artificial lift systems on the production of unconventional wells, specially on the early stage of production. During this stage production rates are high, and solids (proppant) are produced; this can be a challenging combination to deal with. When correctly operated, jet pumps can be a useful and effective solution for this unconventional well production cases. Jet pumps can and it have been used to continue to produce an unconventional well through its producing life to depletion, until a transition to a different method is needed, mainly because of the minimum required pump intake pressure that a jet pump needs to operate. Jet pumps require a minimum suction pressure to function, otherwise a phenomenon called “power fluid cavitation” or “low intake pressure cavitation” will occur. When the down-hole pressure of an unconventional well that is operated with jet pump declines to lower levels, specific operating and optimization strategies have to be implemented, in order to maintain acceptable production rate levels, and to optimized the usage of the available surface equipment capacity. During the late stage of production of an unconventional well , a successfully operated jet pump strategy includes several good practices that include: Well completion configuration, surface equipment selection, suction and discharge piping, production data processing and analysis, nozzle and mixing tube resizing and power fluid pressure schedule. The correct application of the previously mentioned actions, increase the possibilities to approach to a trouble free operation, and to a continuous jet pump system implementation from its installation, on the early production stage, to a point where the well flowing pressure is too low that a change of system is required, to a low rate – low pressure production system. This paper presents a straightforward discussion on the operation of jet pump systems during the late production stage of unconventional wells, recommended practices, troubleshooting and procedures to keep the well producing, even when the pump intake pressures are relatively low.