Artificial lift systems are used to increase the pressure of the reservoir when the bottomhole pressure is not sufficient enough to push the crude oil or natural gas to the surface of the well. Artificial lift systems can also be used to generate flow from a well, which does not have any flow. They are also used to increase the flow from a well to produce fluids at a higher rate. Majority of the oil wells require artificial lift systems at one point or other in the entire life of the reservoir. Large number of gas wells has benefitted from artificial lift systems to separate the liquids from the formation, so that gas can easily flow at a higher rate. Approximately 10% of the total oil and gas wells in the world posses the natural reservoir drive to bring crude oil to the surface, while the rest depend on artificial lift systems. Artificial lift systems are also employed in wells which have sufficient pressure in the beginning, but with the passage of time, the pressure in the well decreases, thereby generating demand for artificial lift systems.
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Artificial lift systems are broadly segmented into two types: pump systems and gas systems. Pump systems consist of electrical submersible pump, sucker rod pump or rod lift and progressive cavity pump. Gas systems include gas lift and plunger lift. Electrical submersible pump is one of the oldest types of artificial lift systems and is used for deepwater, subsea, offshore and onshore wells. The selection of artificial lift systems depends on numerous parameters such as geographic location, production flexibility, operating cost and capital cost. It also depends on operating practices, economic considerations, and site-specific conditions.
Presently, electrical submersible pumps are widely used artificial lift systems for producing wells owing to their high extraction rate and low operational costs. These pumps can be easily operated by field workers due to their simpler design. Electrical submersible pumps have the potential to lift large volumes of crude oil. They are easily available in different sizes, and presence of scale and sludge formation does not hamper its work performance, hence high operational efficiency can be maintained. They can work efficiently in wells with crooked or deviated holes.
Rod lift or sucker rod pump is the oldest type of artificial lift system utilized for the extraction of crude oil. They have the potential to lift heavy viscous crude oil at high temperatures, thereby incurring low operational expenditures. The applications of rod lift include multiple completions, down-hole pressure wells and lifting of heavy viscous oil.
With the increase in number of offshore reserves, demand for gas lifts is expected to increase at a significant rate. Low operational cost, longer life span and high efficiency and are some of the key drivers that boost the demand for gas lifts in the artificial lift systems market.
North America is projected to be the region with the highest potential for the artificial lift systems market by 2020. With the advent of shale gas discoveries, demand for artificial lift systems is projected to rise at a substantial rate in the near future in North America. Countries in North America such as the U.S. and Canada have large reserves of shale gas that present enormous opportunities for the artificial lift systems market. Plunger lifts are commonly used artificial lift systems for horizontal shale wells. Plunger lifts utilize the well’s own energy, pressure or gas to lift the accumulated fluids from wellbore to wellheads.
Baker Hughes, Inc., Borets Company LLC, Dover Artificial Lift, Flotek Industries, Inc., Halliburton Company, Kudu Industries, Inc., National Oilwell Varco, Inc., Schlumberger Limited, Superior Energy Services, Inc., and Weatherford International Ltd. are likely to dominate the artificial lift systems market in the coming future.