Wireless Monitoring Saves Hours on Each Well Workover

Keith EllisWhen selecting topics for presentations at Emerson Exchange, review committee members want real-world case studies illustrating the kinds of pain points customers deal with daily, solved simply and effectively through improved technologies and practices. Keith Ellis from Gulfport Energy made just such a presentation at Exchange, and we worked with him to turn it into an article in Oil & Gas Engineering Jun 2019, Wireless Monitoring Saves Hours on Each Well Workover.

The pain point begins with the nature of fracked gas wells: if not managed effectively, they can have a short production life. With 330 wells working in eastern Ohio, Gulfport’s people understand exactly what this means. A well may run unassisted for anything from 18 months to five years, but eventually production will sag, and it will need a workover to extend its life and maintain sustainable output.

 At Gulfport, workovers typically include installing a plunger lift system to help clear water out of the well tubing. This waster can interfere with gas getting to the surface, and the installation is an involved process, as Keith explains.

 Each workover requires disconnection and reconnection of five pressure instruments. Using conventional wired instrumentation, a crew can workover two wells per day with a six to eight-person crew consisting of a Gulfport Energy production foreman or superintendent and contractor I&E techs. This assumes everything goes as planned with no unforeseen issues, but this is often not the case.

Contractor I&E techs need to pull fuses, disconnect wiring and remove cabling before a workover—and reverse that work after the workover. They typically spend five hours on site to do 15 minutes of work, and mistakes and damage often go unnoticed. The four to six hours budgeted for a workover can therefore turn into a full day or more, with contractors on site and billing the entire time.

 He goes on to describe how wiring can be damaged while instruments are taken out of their normal positions, which is often not realized until operators are trying to restart the well. That leaves everybody waiting for the troubleshooting before production can begin again. Gulfport’s solution: get rid of the wires by using WirelessHART instruments such as the Rosemount 3051S Wireless Pressure Transmitter. This has lowered installation costs and makes workovers much easier and more predictable in terms of time and cost.

 With wireless, there are no longer fuses, conduit or wiring between the PLC and each instrument. This eliminates the need to do electrical wiring work before and after the workover. The instrumentation simply stays on the wellhead equipment, and contracted I&E techs are no longer needed for a workover. The only maintenance is battery replacement, and battery life is more than five years. Cost savings enabled Gulfport Energy to eliminate I&E contractors and hire two fulltime I&E techs to improve operations. More importantly, exposure to potentially hazardous conditions at well sites has been reduced.

So, there’s a real-life return on investment, using WirelessHART technology to eliminate the need for extra technicians along with eliminating the costs of installing the fuses, conduit and wires in the first place, plus the safety bonus.

You can find more information like this and meet with other people looking at the same kinds of situations at Emerson Exchange and in the Emerson Exchange365 community. It’s a place where you can communicate and exchange information with experts and peers in all sorts of industries around the world. Look for the Oil & Gas and IIoT Groups, and other specialty areas for suggestions and answers.