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Oil & Gas Forum: ARC lifts well performance

Nov. 15, 2017
Canadian oil & gas company ARC Resources uses ConectedProduction Well Manager to optimize artificial lift

"I was able to put in ConnectedProduction Well Manager myself. We started it out on five wells and then added four more." ARC Resources’ Charlie Kettner on the company’s easy implementation of Rockwell Automation’s solution for managing artificial lift on its production assets.

How do you recover when your industry's revenue drops by half—as oil and gas producers experienced when prices plummeted from $120 per barrel to $60 and less in recent years? Very carefully and efficiently—and that means automation.

End users presenting at the Oil & Gas Industry Forum today at the Automation Fair event detailed a variety of ways that they've come up with to simplify and streamline their operations and wring some much-needed profit out of their applications and processes.

"The crash in prices during and after 2014 resulted in dramatic reductions in capital and operating expenditures of 70-80%," says Luis Gamboa, heavy industries market development manager, Rockwell Automation. "However, owner/operators have to keep running, and so they've had to find ways to greatly increase efficiency, especially during the past three years. This can be done with automation, optimization and centralized operations."

Uplifted by artificial lift

For instance, instead of pumping indiscriminately as was done often in the past, ARC Resources reported that it recently undertook a continuous improvement program, which encouraged it to evaluate and implement the Rockwell Automation ConnectedProduction well manager solution to determine when and for how long to employ artificial lift at its multi-well pads in Alberta and northeast British Columbia. The ConnectedProduction solution was designed to maintain efficient production even from aging and otherwise depleted assets.

"We're always looking for new ways to keep going and continue production on these older wells," said Charlie Kettner, PLC programmer and control system manager, ARC Resources. "It was also important for us to automate because we can have up to 32 wells per pad with different combinations of horizontal and directional drilling, and are subject to different pressures and other forces. We wanted one controller to handle all these scalable systems, but we had problems with our older controls. They could measure gases and handle one or two wells, but they weren't so good when we went to eight or 13 wells per pad."

After consulting with Rockwell Automation, Kettner decided to use its ConnectedProduction Well Manager program, which enabled ARC to increase its I/O point count, expand its SCADA system, and adopt ControlLogix PLCs and ProSoft support modules.

"I told our production engineers to test this solution on a well while I checked it in our lab, and we found it was plug-and-play out of the box," explained Kettner. "I was able to put it in myself, and we started it out on five wells and then added four more. We've also got more space to expand our I/O, but we didn't have to replace or rewire our existing hardware."

Kettner added that ConnectedProduction Well Manager's valve-open and valve-close criteria are more adjustable by ARC's operators, which lets them pick and more easily implement the setpoints they want to run. "These decisions are based on the operating philosophy the team has for each well," he said. "Previously, we might hit a button, but then forget to close that valve later. Now, it's done automatically, which saves on operating expenditures. ConnectedProduction is also more standardized, so we can move operators around more easily. Plus, there's no more custom code, so we don't have differences in programming."

About the Author

Jim Montague | Executive Editor

Jim Montague is executive editor of Control.