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How to: Swabbing a Well in Simple Terms

Here at Tiger General, we have great pride in selling our Swabbing Equipment. However, some people may not be familiar with what the actual process of swabbing is. In this article we cover what swabbing is, why it’s so important, and what the process looks like.

What Is Swabbing?

Swabbing is the act of accessing the production zones of wells and removing accumulated fracking fluids. It’s a method of well control that drilling companies use to release the well’s bottom hole pressure, allowing them to “kick” it off. When a drilling company creates a new well, they use pressurized liquids to fracture the site, creating channels and production zones where the oil and gas can travel. Swabbing follows as a second step.

To efficiently remove the remaining liquids from the well, teams use specific swabbing rigs, which consist of a winch, cable, swab cup, foldable mast and a pulley at the top. Using the winch, the operator lowers and raises the cable into and out of the well, keeping in mind control and the well’s characteristics.

In general, the standard for fluid removal is pulling about six barrels out of the well by way of the swabbing rig. As the operator pulls the fluids, the bottom pressure of the well builds, allowing the oil or gas to flow and push out of the well. Once you’ve reestablished the adequate pressure, your oilfield workers and operators can begin to pull resources from the well and store them. However, over time the pressure can decrease, causing the well to cease to produce oil or gas. If it depressurizes, the operator must apply the swabbing process again to build it back up.

Why Is It Important?

Well swabbing is essential to the production of oil and gas wells. For one, the process of swabbing and removing fluids from the production zone of the well creates the conditions for a gas and oil yield. If the well doesn’t have the required natural pressure to induce flowing on its own, swabbing makes it possible to access the resources regardless.

Additionally, as wells age, they collect fluids and lose their pressurization. But this doesn’t mean the well becomes unusable. If there are still resources left to pull, oilfield crews can use swabbing to rejuvenate the well’s pressurization multiple times.

When you pull resources from the reservoir, it also releases fluids that then collect at the bottom of the wellbore. As these liquids build up, they can prevent you from pulling oil or gas from the reservoir. Swabbing uses cups to remove the fluid, regaining you access to the oil well and allowing you to continue pulling resources. So, the process is necessary to get the most out of your wells.

What the Process Looks Like

The process of swabbing involves specialized equipment and well-trained operators. To start, you should follow the recommended OSHA regulations and precautions, which include details like conducting swabbing during daylight hours, keeping oilfield workers significantly clear of the well and equipment at all times and locating swab tanks a proper distance from the well site.

First, you need to be able to recognize when swabbing is necessary. As you pull oil from your well, it’s exiting the reservoirs through perforations. The openings may also produce fluids. But rather than travel up the pipe, they collect in the bottom of the well. As the fluid levels get higher, they block off the reservoir, causing it to stop producing.

Next, you need the right equipment. Swabbing cups are specifically for removing liquids from wells. As you push them into the well, they allow water to push past them, dipping into the collected fluids. However, they only allow fluids to pass in one direction. As you pull the cups back out of the well, they pull the liquids that passed with them, effectively removing them from the wellbore. Once the fluid level is low enough, you can continue pulling from the well. The remaining bit of liquid will rise with the oil as you proceed and return the reservoir to full productivity.

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If you’d like more information about Tiger General swab rigs please Download our Swab Master Rigs Brochure  or Contact Us now to learn more.

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