Victoria Pons, Pons Energy Analytics
Anne Marie Weaver, Lightning Production Services
L.J. Guillotte, Lightning Production Services
Andrew Wlazlo, Triple Crown Resources
Unconventional wells are drilled in shale formations to produce oil and gas utilizing horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing. Many think fracturing creates a ‘rubble zone’ around the wellbore allowing the free oil and gas to be produced.
Unconventional wells are generally drilled “vertical” and then “kicked-off”, building the curve and then continuing to drill horizontally at a targeted distance through the layer of oil-bearing rock. Due to the intentional and unintentional dogleg severity that occurs throughout the drilling process, extreme side loading conditions are created when rod pumping. S curve wells are common unconventional wellbore trajectories that present challenges when rod pumping.
Due to the rock properties of shale formations, wells with long laterals through the pay zone are completed. This results in large production volumes with exponential decline. As these wells begin to decline, artificial lift is needed to continue to effectively lift fluid to the surface. Rod pumping is usually the preferred artificial lift method for liquid rich wells.
This paper focuses on the sucker rod string as it delivers the energy created at surface to the downhole pump. The sucker rod string typically consists of steel sucker rods, connected by couplings every 25 feet, to mechanically lift the fluid from the downhole pump.
Unfortunately, the complex trajectories of unconventional wells create mechanical friction between the rods and tubing resulting in extreme side loading conditions. This leads to rod parts or tubing leaks from extensive wear of the contact area between the couplings/rods and tubing. The force or side load is often concentrated on conventional rod’s couplings, increasing the pressure between the rod and tubing string. This leads to an increase in failure rates.
Continuous rod is a viable solution for deviated wells because of the lack of couplings, the side load is distributed over an increased area of contact. This results in longer run times.
This paper presents results from five high failure rate wells that were converted from conventional sucker rod to continuous rod due to failures caused by downhole deviation.