Definition - What does Artificial Lift mean?
Artificial lift refers to the use of mechanical devices (artificial methods) to increase the flow of fluids; generally crude oil from oil producing wells.
During the early production stage of an oil well, the reservoir pressure should be high enough to push hydrocarbons up the wellbore to the surface. When a reservoir lacks sufficient pressure for producing oil and gas from the wells, artificial lifting methods are employed.
Petropedia explains Artificial Lift
Artificial lift is needed in wells when there is insufficient pressure in the reservoir to lift the produced fluids to the surface. The lifting process transfers energy to the downhole or decreases fluid density in the downhole so as to reduce the hydrostatic load on the formation, which makes the formation to flow. Classification of lifting methods:
Artificial lift methods categorized into two groups, ones that use pumps and others that use gas.
A) Pump system Types
- Beam Pumping / Sucker Rod Pumps (Rod Lift)
- Progressive Cavity Pumps
- Subsurface Hydraulic Pumps
- Electric Submersible Pumps
B) Gas system involves injecting compressed gas.
Each method has its own advantages and disadvantages. So, it is important to choose the best method for the well, considering its location, reservoir properties, depth, estimated production and other factors. Artificial lift considerations should ideally be part of the well planning process.