Silverwell is a technology company with an innovative new product in the artificial lift space. Their new system, DIAL – digital intelligent artificial lift has been launched in to the market and the company is now in the process of doing their first commercial well with various clients.
Conventional technology for gas lifting wells has been around for about fifty or sixty years. It works as well as it works but generally results in wells being un-optimised. The prize for fully optimised gas lifted wells is something like a fifteen to twenty percent uplift in production. There has been a number of studies done independently from various operating companies that have shown that. The thing that constrains people from achieving that optimisation is that in conventional technology, you have to intervene a lot. Intervention for production logging and intervention for changing out gas lift valves, all of which is time, loss production, cost and risk. Our system allows you to do all of that process, which would typically take months, in minutes. Our system has gas lift valves in the wells, controllable from surface. As well conditions change, the production engineer can just press buttons on the screen and optimise the well without any intervention.
We’re laying on top of that, a software platform that allows us to take a budget of gas across however many gas lifted wells and share it out automatically, so that we have a fully optimised, automated, close looped control system for a multi well gas lifted field.
There’s an investment up front in the technology and the benefit comes as you’re operating the well. In terms of production uplift, sometimes we can just produce more. We get the optimisation uplift and the less risk, less cost to remain fully optimised over the lifecycle of the well.
The product is called digital intelligent artificial lift and it has been for a long time. So, in some ways before the word ‘digitalisation’ became used. The connection with digitalisation is that it’s digitally operated and digitally addressed but what we’re doing is blending a mechanical technology of mechanical actuation with a digital technology around control and monitoring. We’re also integrating a downhole element to digital with a surface element. This spans the barrier between service and downhole across the wellhead to bring a full integrated hardware software digital and intelligent system to optimise gas production.
A gas lifted system is all about the data. It’s like a patient in hospital, you have to take its pulse, you have to check if it’s breathing. All that information needs to be there all of the time. With current technology it’s as if you had a patient in a hospital and you took their pulse just once a month. If that patient isn’t very well and is running a fever, that’s not a good way to operate. I think where we’re at is because of the monitoring capabilities of this system, you’re taking the pulse every minute or whenever the patient needs. It enables much more data which enables much less uncertainty in the decision making around operating gas lifted wells. That coupled with more production, with a lot less intervention, overall enables a production engineer to take a much more data driven approach to how they’re monitoring and optimising gas lift wells.
I think these types of technologies liberate people. As humans we’re creative and energetic and want to do new things and invent things. Some of these technologies prevent people from doing what was relatively mundane and not necessarily creative work. I think if you’re a production engineer in the US or over here, you have hundreds of wells to look after. However hard they try, there’s no way they can drive to every single well to look after it. Therefore, I don’t think these technologies destroy jobs, they liberate people to be at their most creative, productive and efficient to properly look after the assets that the operating companies have.