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Automating the Rod Pump Wellhead: Chasing Uptime

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Course Credit: 0.15 CEU, 1.5 PDH

Our industry faces new challenges and demands in operating wells with rod pump artificial lift systems. Little attention has been focused on either the mechanisms that seal the wellbore at the surface from the environment or the changing needs of the operators. Every well with a rod pump has a stuffing box of some design. Failure to properly maintain the stuffing box is a leading cause of downtime. Traditionally, pumpers visit wells on regular periodic intervals, during which they lubricate and adjust stuffing boxes, verify rod rotator units are functioning, and (if necessary) shut the well in sealing the wellbore at the wellhead. Changing environmental regulations increase the responsibilities on field operations staff. As there are now fewer available experienced field personnel, there is a pressing need to transition seemingly mundane tasks from field personnel and onto automation equipment.

This talk will discuss applying automation technology to the Artificial Lift problem of stuffing box and associated seal maintenance. An exploration of the design criteria for cost effective automation of the deceptively simple stuffing box will be presented, with examples and best practices for proposed systems. Condition based monitoring of seal packs allows for precise on demand lubrication coupled with automatic seal compression systems. This can prevent premature seal failure and increase the longevity of seal packs. Applying simple concepts and the increasing prevalence of real time automated monitoring can lead to substantial Artificial Lift uptime gains for field operators and operations.

The discussion further expands this theme to Rod BOP automation, with an examination of why this area of design is becoming increasingly important in the areas of producing oil in populated areas. Automating and controlling artificial lift specific BOPs via local exception safeguards wells during routine operations. The abundance of simple edge processors and ubiquitous connectivity can transform labor intensive Artificial Lift related processes. This reduces or eliminates the possibility of errors that can cause substantial Artificial Lift downtime.

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Course Chapters

  • 1Automating the Rod Pump Wellhead: Chasing Uptime - Chapter 1
    Media Type: Video


Earn credits by completing this course0.15 CEU credit1.5 PDH credits


Anthony Allison
Jason Pitcher