In todayís environment of low oil prices, optimization of your rod pumping systems equals survival. If you donít optimize your systems you risk having them become uneconomic and you also risk not having a job.
However, there is something you can do about this situation with intelligent use of the software tools you have available.
Rod pumping system optimization must start when the rod pumping system is first designed. It is important to get the right unit type and size, rod type and rod string design, the best combination of pump plunger size and stroke length, and the correct motor size. To make the right decisions you need to consider not only what the well conditions are now, but what will happen in the future. Do you expect production to increase or decrease? Do you expect excessive rod-tubing friction due to paraffin or scale? Do you expect to have fluid pound or gas interference?
Also, the maintenance costs are very important. Sucker rod parts are expensive but trying to eliminate them completely is very difficult and very expensive. For example, you will get very few rod parts if you design the rod string with a 45% loading, but of course the cost will be much higher than if the loading is 85%.
Ideally, you want to design a rod pumping system that will give you the maximum profit. However, this is very difficult to achieve in practice because of the many possible combinations of system components and also because you do not have the data you need to decide what is best. For example, do you know what the rod part frequency will be if the rod loading is 95% versus 75%?
In practice, you can get close to optimizing a rod pumping system by selecting the cheapest rods and pumping unit that will not be overloaded, and best possible system efficiency (the closer it is to 50% the better).
But what if you have an existing system that you or someone else designed? How do you optimize the performance of this system? After all, the well conditions since the system was designed may have changed significantly, not to mention that the pump may be worn out.
The following five-step optimization approach allows you to improve any existing system, or at least verify that it is running at close to an optimum condition.