Baker Hughes’ first field trial of its LEAP adaptive production system, installed in December, is delivering 300 percent greater oil production and 200 percent higher natural gas production compared to the previous artificial lift solution.

“Until now, operators have had to use 100-year-old technology that was never intended to operate in deep, horizontal wells or to handle the rapidly declining production rates and high gas volumes typical of unconventional reservoirs,” says Wade Welborn, vice president for Artificial Lift Systems at Baker Hughes. “As the first artificial lift technology designed specifically for these unique production challenges, the LEAP adaptive production system represents a step-change in artificial lift technology.”

The system, developed in the Mississippi Lime play in Woods County, Okla., for SandRidge Energy, is 5,200 feet deep and has been in continuous operation since its installation. It was seamlessly deployed through the deviated section of the wellbore and started on its first attempt with no issues.

An entirely new approach to artificial lift, the LEAP system is designed to adapt to the dynamic production profiles typical in most unconventional oil wells.

The downhole system consists of a positive displacement pump, which can be installed to sit deeper in a well than traditional rod pumps; a submersible linear electromagnetically actuated motor, which drives the pump and eliminates the need for the long rod string (a primary source of failure in rod lift systems); and a sensor, which provides pressure and temperature data to help ensure the highest level of production optimization and system longevity.

Unlike other positive displacement pumping technology, proprietary software built into the LEAP system surface variable speed drive (VSD) integrates with downhole electronics to allow remote adjustments to the pumping system speed and stroke length as production rates change.

“Overcoming the technical hurdles associated with unconventional production isn’t the only advantage of the LEAP system. It also is helping Baker Hughes meet its commitment to deliver solutions that continually improve the safety and environmental sustainability of customer operations,” Welborn says. “It dramatically reduces the large surface footprint required for traditional rod systems, mitigates potential emission and leak paths and eliminates the safety hazards to wellsite personnel that are inherent with large pump jacks.”

Recognizing in 2013 that traditional production technologies were not meeting the demands of unconventional oil plays, Baker Hughes established a team, based at the Baker Hughes Artificial Lift Research and Technology Center in Claremore, Okla., to research innovative artificial lift solutions to address these challenges. The SandRidge field trial comes 18 months after approval of the initial system design.

Baker Hughes is a supplier of oilfield services, products, technology and systems to the worldwide oil and natural gas industry. The company's 60,000 employees today work in more than 80 countries. For more information, visit