Devon partners with GE on articifial lift research

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

by Sarah Terry-Cobo

The Journal Record

OKLAHOMA CITY – Tony Vaughn is working with Michael Ming to help oil-field service technology catch up with the pace of drilling. Ming, general manager of GE Oil and Gas Technology Center, announced a new partnership with Devon Energy Corp. to develop better underground pumping technology.

Lifting hydrocarbons and other fluids to the surface of the earth has emerged as an important technological challenge that GE hopes to solve, Ming said at a groundbreaking ceremony for the center Monday.

Vaughn, executive vice president of exploration and production at Devon, said the partnership is a part of a trend. Drillers aren’t looking to service providers for just a contract on one part of a single well. They want to create an integrated collaboration with GE because of its research experience.

In particular, GE is developing artificial lift technology, a series of electric pumps installed deep in wells designed to bring oil, natural gas and petroleum byproducts to the surface. Ming said Continental Resources Inc.’s work to develop shale oil in the Bakken formation, as well as Chesapeake Energy Corp.’s efforts to develop shale gas in the Marcellus Shale, progressed faster than many in the service industry expected.

But oil and gas are just a few of the fluids and gasses that pass through underground pumps, Vaughn said. Increasingly, wells must also pump up water that resides in the formation, as well as water, chemicals and sand that are pumped down the well for hydraulic fracturing treatment.

“The production from those liquids-rich plays exceeded our expectations on the capacity to produce (hydrocarbons,)” Ming said. “Now we have to make the technology to keep up.”

The Devon partnership is part of the $125 million GE will spend to build its new, 100,000-square-foot headquarters at NE Ninth Street. GE announced last year it had chosen Oklahoma City as the site for the research facility. The company will eventually create 130 jobs at the new site, and has already hired 25, including Ming. The building is expected to be completed by December 2015.

Mark Little, chief technology officer of GE, said he was proud that Oklahoma is now part of the company’s footprint, in part because the state is the heart of innovation when it comes to oil and gas. The Oklahoma City research center will develop the company’s artificial lift technology, with the goal of creating pumps that can last longer in harsher environments.

“All roads will lead to Oklahoma,” Little said.

Related photo of the Devon Energy Corp. auditorium at taken by Mike Bosley.