Energy & Mining International Magazine spoke with Tech-Flo leadership about how their engineers enhanced decades-old hydraulic jet pump technology to deliver a more resilient and productive pump.
Its technology might be a small part of the artificial lift market, but Tech-Flo Consulting LLC’s downhole hydraulic jet pump has been recently designed to be more resilient and productive than jet pump designs of old. This is not your grandfather’s jet pump, maintains President and CEO Bill Jackson.
“The jet pump is a product we base our entire company around,” explains Erik Reissig, executive vice president and general manager. “The jet pump is a tool used to produce, test and flowback oil and gas wells. We sell, lease and service this tool as well as ancillary production equipment. With in-house engineering, we are able to design downhole tools to address any application we may come across. This allows our jet pump to have the most comprehensive application range of all forms of artificial lift.”
Using finite element and flow analysis, Tech-Flo Consulting’s engineers are able to run a computer simulation of a particular jet pump’s prototype before it is manufactured. The parts are then 3-D printed for rapid prototyping to ensure proper fit. “In these computer simulations, we use real data from past clients’ wells to design the jet pump with all the variables we may encounter,” Jackson notes.
Tech-Flo Consulting’s downhole jet pump has no moving parts. “No moving parts gives us a marked advantage,” Jackson emphasizes. “So the longevity of the tool is huge in comparison to other types of artificial lift.” It can be serviced by reverse circulating the power fluid down the annulus and back up the tubing to bring the tool to surface instead of having to be pulled out of the well via a workover rig. This workover procedure – which is necessary with other pumps – can take several days and cost from $10,000 to $20,000 to accomplish.
On the Surface
Three main components are required for a jet pump system: the jet pump, the power fluid unit, which is the surface pump, and the suction source, which can be a separator, a heater treater or a stock tank. Tech-Flo Consulting surveys a well location to see what surface equipment such as stock tanks or separators can be used with the jet pump to reduce the capital cost of the surface equipment the pump needs to operate.
Tech-Flo manufactures the pump skids and assembles the surface units. Its 16 employees are stationed in Conroe, Midland and Victoria, Texas, and Williston, N.D. The company also has international projects in Latin America, Canada, Europe and is currently seeking opportunities in other countries.
“As far as sand and proppant downhole, the jet pump has a major advantage over electric submersible pumps and beam pumps due to the issues they are known to have with handling solids,” Reissig says. “This has given the jet pump a significant advantage in the flowback of hydraulicaly fractured wells.
“In the past two to three years, there’s been a dramatic uptick in demand for the jet pump for frack flowback,” Reissig says.
“After operators drill and frack the well, they want to pull that fluid off the well as quickly as possible,” Reissig continues. “This fits well with a few of the jet pump’s main advantages, such as its high-volume production and the ability to handle high amounts of solids. So it’s the go-to artificial lift method for all these companies flowing back their wells.”
Jackson estimates hydraulic jet pumps are approximately 1 percent of the artificial lift market compared with the beam pump’s market share of approximately 70 percent.
“So increasing that percentage to 2 percent could be huge,” he maintains. The Nos. 2 and 3 types of artificial lift are gas lift and electric submersible pumps, Jackson says, and the progressive cavity pump has the rest of the market. “The efficiency and durability of our downhole jet pump gives us a great advantage over our competition in comparison to other types of artificial lift,” Jackson maintains.
The challenge for Tech-Flo Consulting is educating the market about the advantages of the hydraulic jet pump. “It’s getting people to look at the jet pump in a different light,” Jackson concludes. “It’s a new technology with new benefits. We feel like with the jet pump, you can do more than with any other type of artifical lift. It’s the most complete artificial lift solution.”