Release Date: January 19, 2005
|Ultra-low Cost Well Monitoring Could Save Thousands of Marginal Oil Wells
DOE-funded Project in California Tested Successfully
TULSA, OKLA. — A new, ultra-low cost method for monitoring marginal oil wells promises to help rescue thousands of U.S. wells from an early demise.
Developed with funding from the Department of Energy (DOE) and project-managed by DOE’s National Energy Technology Laboratory, this novel, inexpensive, monitoring-system prototype helps improve the efficiency of rod-pumped oil wells.
The ultimate payoff for such an approach could be the recovery of millions of barrels of oil otherwise permanently lost while the United States watches its oil production continue to slide.
More than 75 percent of all oil wells in the United States are classified as "stripper wells," producing less than 15 barrels per day. Despite their small volumes, they add up. The over 400,000 stripper oil wells in the United States produce, in aggregate, nearly 1 million barrels of oil per day.
These wells also operate on razor-thin economics, and thus are extremely sensitive to oil price changes or swings in operating costs. From 1993 to 2000, about 150,000 of these marginal oil wells were abandoned, costing the nation more than $3.5 billion in lost economic output and leaving about 150 million barrels of crude in the ground. So any new idea that bolsters efficiencies and cuts costs has the potential to keep tens of thousands of wells pumping and improve the bottom line of thousands of small, independent American producers.
That was the impetus behind the development of the Marginal Expense Oilwell Wireless Surveillance (MEOWS) monitoring system. Many rod-pumped wells produce at stripper rates, and frequent or extreme declines in production efficiencies can mean a choice between shutting the wells down or operating them at a loss.
The MEOWS system allows daily, remote monitoring of wells in real time at a significantly reduced cost, while providing information that helps the operator improve the efficiency of rod pumps controlled by timers. The system entails attaching small, self-contained, wireless proprietary flow sensors to a well’s flow-line check valves and then analyzing the vibration data variations to determine oil-flow conditions.
|Contact: David Anna, DOE/NETL, 412-386-4646|