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Gas Lift method and ESP Method (Research Proposal)





Introduction and Topic

The development in science and technology has greatly enhanced the way production processes are carried out in both large and small scale firms. Through technological advancements, high level of competition and emphasis on products’ quality, many organizations has found it necessary to deploy various methods of production engineering. The engineering methods are diverse and complex with a lot of emphasis on processes quality management and need for efficiency. As such, many firms have found it necessary to have Research and Development departments with a view to scan the environment, come up with viable opportunities and develop products that are specially customized to suit the identified user needs. The relevance of scientific methods of production and need to choose the best method to employ for a given process emanates from the fact that, there is always resource constraints, need for products’ quality, timeliness in production and fusion of cost-benefit analysis in each stage of production. As such, firms will go for a value additive production engineering method if the application of the same is in line with its strategic plans and product specifications.

In this regard, two engineering methods that are largely used by petroleum engineers are Gas lift method and Electric Submersible Pumped (ESP) Method. Electric Submersible Pumped Method is mainly applied in the process of analyzing the ways through which a well’s output values can be maximized. To ensure that the desired results are achieved, the engineers are required to gather relevant data relating to the wells under study while at the same time carry out field analysis. The motivation would be to evaluate the pressure of a well’s pump intake with a view to evaluate its performance. The data is then related with that obtained from the well bottom pressure. In the process, the engineers will come up with a mathematical correlation between the data so as to determine the pressure of a pump’s intake and the pressure at the oil is flow.

The Gas lift method on the other hand entails use of air to pump oil to the surface. The process entails use of lift gas concept where the gas is allowed to move through a well network in a cyclic flow. As such, the vacuums created allows for a sucking kind of process where the fluids are sucked up from the well while the gas is allowed to circulate in the network as the oil is harvested. The major engineering work is to create a system that allows for scientific and optimal separation of oil, water and gas. The system should also allow for recycling of the gas within the reservoir to enhance the net returns. The role of the engineers here is to ensure that the compressors are working as well as the suction pressures rate so that the maximum pressure is generated to enhance oil flow. As such the engineers need to come up with optimal lifting capacity for the individual wells. This way, a mathematical model would be developed to help determine the net revenues and the contribution margins for each well, based on the lifting rate. Based on the above analysis, the emergent issue relates to the problems and benefits that come with the application of any of the two engineering methods.

Study Approach

Qualitative research design/approach will be adopted to evaluate the application of the two engineering approaches in real cases. Acciodring to Frankel & Devers (255), this approach can be effectively applied in research in situations where there is already well structured “theoretical and conceptual frameworks, and much is already known about the topic”. It is suggested that the two methods will be studied over a three month period, depending on the type of access granted, allowing the researcher sufficient time to develop a reasonable familiarity with each, and generate sufficient and trustworthy data. It should be stressed, however, that this study aims to explore the pros and cons of each of the methods with a view to give analytical and objective explanation on the popularity and application of each.

Ethnographic techniques will be utilized with the researcher employing participant observation of the wells. The participant observation will be conducted by looking at the application of the methods by two drilling companies. This will enable the researcher to develop an in-depth understanding of the methods, their cost implications and applications. As such the approach will be to compare the Gas lift method and Electric Submersible Pumped (ESP) Method based on their cost implications, popularity, pros and cons.

Research Questions.

The questions to be addressed include:

What is the general description of Gas lift method and Electric Submersible Pumped (ESP) Method?

The information relating to this question will help the researcher to have an overview and insightful understanding of the topic under review. As such, it would be possible to carry out the research and write a report from an informed perspective.

Based on past studies for example, give a diagrammatic description of the ESP. The method is described as having perforations at the bottom which allow fluids flow through the pressure exerted by electric energy (Kirvelis & Davies, 342). To ensure that enough and powerful energy to push the oil up the well is generated, the ESP has a centrifugal pump which pumps the oil up, through the mechanical energy that is converted from electric energy.

How do the engineers come up with the cost benefit analysis under Gas lift method and Electric Submersible Pumped (ESP) Method?

This information is very critical in advancing the theoretical knowledge about the engineering methods. Similarly, it would be possible to evaluate the net revenues that can a accrue to a firm if it is torn between choice of the methods. By coming with a better cost benefit analysis for each method, it would be possible to understand why they are deployed and the attempts made to minimize the associated costs. For example , the ESP method has a higher energy cost implication in comparison to the air lift method. This is because of the very high level of energy losses that occur as the shafts of the centrifugal pump undergo friction . at the same time, the ESP model has a higher chance of oil leaks that may cause great losses to a company.

What are the pros and cons of Gas lift method and Electric Submersible Pumped (ESP) Method?

This information would be vital in attempts to understand the risks and benefits of each method. This way, the knowledge will help the researcher to understand why firms prefer a given method. This information is also important to other researchers and new entrants who would want to choose the best method for a given scenario. For example, the ESP method is known to work well with less viscous fluid as the centrifugal pump’s efficiency is compromised when there is less heat to warm the fluid (Kirvelis & Davies, 342).

As such, the ESP model requires more heat/ energy to run, but is very efficient when sufficient heat is available to melt oil. On the other hand, the gas lift method is comparatively cheaper in relation to energy requirement. Similarly, the gas used for lifting oil can be recycled thus promoting environmental conservation.

Which method, between Gas lift method and Electric Submersible Pumped (ESP) Method is preferred by most drillers?

This information will help to reinforce the aim of the study as the researcher will come to a conclusion on the use and popularity of the methods. As such, the strengths of each production method will be vital in determining its popularity.

Research Methods.

The research ,method to be employed will entail observation, research on secondary data and interviews. Informal and formal semi-structured interviews will be conducted with the field engineers and the top management to gain an insight into the views and experiences of different levels of employees throughout the companies . Such interviews will also help audit the project’s findings at each stage of the analysis.

The data collection process will take various forms. The researcher will keep a daily personal journal containing field notes, where the relevant information collected will be recorded. To ensure that information from third parties is not lost, audio tape will be used. As such, the interviews will be recorded on audio tape whenever possible, and transcribed to avoid mistakes and mis-interpretations. For counterchecking, the copies of the tape records will be issued to the subjects to authenticate the accuracy of the contents. Secondary data will be collected with a view to understand the past studies on the topic and the past study outcomes. In research, use of secondary or existing research literature helps a researcher to understand and appreciate may the ‘areas where further research is needed’ (Frankel & Devers, 255). These will include books, journals and the internet. Relevant company documentation like capital budgets and strategic plans, will be examined, if permitted, to provide additional information related to petroleum engineering methods.

A flexible time plan has been developed, with the two months to review the literature extensively, conduct the pilot study and seek formal access to the wells. The next 2 months will be used to collect the data, with on-going analysis, followed by 2 months for completing the analysis and the final report.

The collected data will undergo objective coding and analysis in order to develop a full picture of the tow types of engineering. Such a systematic approach to the analysis, will result in the reconstruction of audited engineering methods and the related information, which will provide the basis for the resultant thesis.


In the proposal it is deduced that the two engineering methods are very vital in the process of oil drilling and well management. Because of the risks associated with oil drilling, it is vital that strategies be put in place to help organizations understand the applications and the technical aspects of each method. As such, the petroleum engineer needs to come up with the cost breakdown and the benefits as well as the challenges associated with each method. It is therefore significant that a comparative study that evaluates and analyses Gas lift method and Electric Submersible Pumped method be carried out to expose the specific benefits, challenges and cost implications associated with each method.

Works Cited

Frankel, R. & Devers, K. “Study Design in Qualitative Research—1: Developing

Questions and Assessing Resource Needs”. Education for Health, Vol. 13, No. 2, (2000), 251–261.

Kirvelis, R. & Davies, R., D. “Enthalpy balance model leads to more accurate

modeling of heavy oil production with an electric submersible pump”. Institution of Chemical Engineers. TransIChemE, Vol 81, (2003).

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