Redhead Innovates Surface Rod Pumping for High Performance and Reliability

Redhead Innovates Surface Rod Pumping for High Performance and Reliability Header

Redhead™ Long Stroke Conventional – 2 Years of Successful Operation

Pumping units have been an icon of the oil and gas industry for well over 100 years, and little has changed on the units.  The simplest and most efficient geometry has been unable to be improved upon, and this consistency of design lead to this iconic status.

Sucker rod pumping remains the backbone of global Artificial Lift installations, and driving the system from surface is predominantly done with conventional pumping units.   Over the past 100+ years, there have been very few new successful developments with the Pumping Unit – they are pretty much the same as they were in the early 20th century.  This longevity is a testament to the technology – simple, robust, efficient and effective.

Redhead has focused on conventional pumping units, and from years of experience in industry, pumping units have proven:

  • Longevity – Lifespan of 25-50 years
  • Simplicity – Very few moving parts, very robust.
  • Low Maintenance – Fraction of the cost of hydraulic and Mechanical Linear units.
  • High Uptime – Very low failure rates means more pumping, less service downtime and expense.
  • Optimized Bases – to seamlessly exchange different sizes of pumping units on same base.

During this time, other non-conventional pumping units have been built, with the intent of displacing and improving on the conventional pumping unit.  Despite a myriad of manufacturers that have attempted to improve on the conventional pumping unit, none have come close to the performance, uptime, low maintenance and longevity.

Mechanical/Linear Long Stroke

These non-conventional units included predominantly mechanical units (typically long stroke) and hydraulic units, which, despite their initial promise, were found to have a very short lifespans, high maintenance costs and issues with the new more productive wells.

Mechanical Long Stroke units were developed as an alternative to conventional units, with the theory that the long stroke, operated at low strokes per minute, would provide the additional capacity to increase the overall production of the system.  Although for many years this was the truth, these mechanical long stroke units were able to produce sufficient volumes in deeper wells to match the productivity, it is no longer the case.  With the advent of ultra long fractured horizontal wells, operators require more productivity than these mechanical units could ever provide.  As the limits were hit with mechanical units, the market started seeing more and more other alternatives, and one in particular, has had some limited success but time has shown all of its weaknesses.

Redhead Innovates Surface Rod Pumping for High Performance and Reliability 1

Hydraulic / Hydraulic Long Stroke

Hydraulic Pumping units have been around for over 50 years North America, and with a multitude of different manufacturers, designs and concepts, there have been many difficult and expensive lessons to be learned about this particular type of surface pumping unit.  Hydraulic units have some very redeemable qualities, that would seem to set them apart from a conventional pumping unit, such as the ability to change speeds easily, move the unit efficiently, lift heavy loads and provide a very long stroke (>300”).  Although all of these assertions are mostly correct, there are some very serious downsides to the design of any hydraulic unit, that will typically render them less economic than a conventional pumping unit.

Performance of pumping units are predominantly related to how fast they stroke (max SPM) as well as how much they can lift (lbs).  With a hydraulic system, the lift capacity is typically quite large, due to the large array of hydraulic cylinders available, typical lift capacities of >40,000lbs are quite common, with a similar capacity to a 427 or 500 structure seen in conventional units.  The max SPM is limited by the amount of hydraulic fluid that can move in and out of the cylinder during the stroke, as well as reverse the fluid at the stroke reversal.  These complex hydraulic systems have limited top speeds, and despite having a very long stroke, will be unable to achieve production rates of a conventional unit.

Maintenance has consistently been an issue with hydraulic pumping units, with high costs for preventative actions to repair frequent component failures.  Many of the supposed advantages of these hydraulic units end up being their Achilles heel, as in these examples.  The small footprint of and compactness of the hydraulic cylinders, although is efficient for moving around, but all are subject to leaking, causing environmental damage, and expensive replacement.  Further, the complexity of the systems (controls, hydraulic pumps, valving, hoses, masts, cables, coolers, etc) all provide almost endless opportunities for failures, and maintenance costs will explode as a result.

Redhead™ Conventional Long-Stroke

Redhead identified the shortfalls of both of these types of pumping units, and created an entire new subset of pumping units, the Conventional Long-Stroke.  Our premise was very simple – all other industries have built much larger versions of industrial equipment, (such as excavators, cranes, etc), and we wanted to see how large we could build a conventional unit.  Using the well established advantages of a conventional pumping unit on a very large scale to satisfy this need for more performance, resulted in the Redhead 1824-427-300 and the 2560-500-320.  Redhead has nearly 2 years of runtime on our 1824-365-300, with no issues to date, and we expect a this to continue for the life of the unit.

The performance of this unit is what sets it apart from the hydraulic and mechanical options.  The speed at which it runs, up to 9 SPM, will outperform all other surface unit types of this size, while doing it very efficiently and reliably.



Redhead continues to look for ways to improve the Artificial Lift economics of our customers, pulling on over 100 years of rod pumping experience.  We welcome all inquiries, and should you have any questions or require any further information, contact us at:

(587) 605-1061

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