The artificial lift strategy of an asset is driven by technical and economic factors. Production challenges associated with the exploitation of unconventional plays have become a key factor when planning for a life time solution. Inherent flow instabilities associated with the production of unconventional shale wells should be taken into consideration during the production and optimization of the well. Transient simulation is adopted to gain insights into dynamic flow mechanisms and consequently design for a customized tail pipe system for the life of the well.

This paper describes a case study where a Horizontal Enhanced Artificial Lift (HEAL) System is implemented together with a rod pump as the artificial lift strategy for an unconventional shale asset in the US. Dynamic transient simulation was conducted to demonstrate the efficiency of the system in significantly suppressing slug flow by conditioning flow through a regulating string and separating gas from the well stream before it reaches the installed artificial lift system. Comprehensive engineering scenarios are set up to analyze the effect of production parameters on the HEAL System design against conventional production approaches, where equipment run life is compromised due to unstable flow conditions and consequently the amount of gas and/or solids that are produced through the pump.

The combination of transient simulation with artificial lift demonstrates that the HEAL System is a suitable solution for the production challenges associated with unconventional reservoirs. Extending the life of the equipment allows the well to produce at a lower bottomhole pressure and manage slug flow. The solution can be extended to unconventional places where unstable production due to reservoir pressure depletion is a dominant factor.

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