Repeat failures of rod pumps fields halved, saving an estimated $16 million a year



A large company had around 2,120 rod pumped wells with an average runlife of just over three years – but a small number of them had rod pump systems that repeatedly failed in less than six months.

Company culture was to focus on getting back into production as soon as possible – rightly so, but a step was missing. Those repeat failures were costing the company an estimated $32 million each year.

What we did

On any well that failed in less than a year, the engineers specifying the replacement equipment were asked: “Is this what you believe will give the best chance of a three year runlife?”  Initially, the answer was “No”.

Our solutions were:

  • An audit of all equipment suppliers – the provider who scored highest was given the majority of the work
  • Pump-off controllers on more wells
  • VSDs to control
  • Stopping the reuse of low-cost parts
  • Inspecting more tubing and rods and developing a new approach to when equipment should be inspected
  • Getting lift specialists to attend the teardown of short runlife systems


There was a shift in mental attitude, so the team’s focus was to operate a system capable of achieving three-year runlife. The number of systems failing each year in less than 12 months was halved.