Troubleshooting Common Problems in Oil Fields

May 5, 2020

It is important for workers at oil fields to engage in regular inspection and maintenance of all equipment on site, and to make sure the operation is running safely and smoothly. This means, in part, taking proper measurements of oil production.

On some days, the oil will be producing in greater volume than on others. For the most part, production will be steady, with these individual rises and falls being rather negligible over the long term. However, if you suddenly see a significant difference in yield, this could be a sign of a problem in your production that needs to be addressed.

Here’s a quick overview of what you should know about some of the common problems in oil fields in Carlsbad, NM and how to address them.


Of the problems that lead to a sudden large rise in production, the biggest issue you need to consider is an improper tank balance.

Most tanks in the tank battery hold both water and oil in a particular balance to ensure water gets separated out of the system and the treated oil flows out as expected. However, over time these tanks can become unbalanced, holding more oil or water than they are supposed to.

If the tank has more water than it should, then oil will be pushed up and over the oil flow line. This is most likely to occur in three-phase vessels, such as heater-treaters that feature a water leg. A common cause is the water leg getting clogged up, cutting off the flow to the water disposal system. That clog results in the water level in the tank rising. But it is also possible a mistakenly closed valve can lead to an increase in water levels, throwing off the tank balance.

In other cases, it may just be additional oil coming out of the well at unexpected volumes. This may be a result of running the pumps for longer than usual. Keep in mind the wells are only able to produce so much oil—even if the pumps are run for longer periods of time, the production levels will eventually regress to the mean.


If you start to see a sudden noticeable decrease in production, there are a couple potential issues for you to check.

The first would be problems in the tank battery. Inspect the battery and look for leaks or overflows. If you don’t see one of these more obvious types of problems, you’ll have to inspect the insides of the vessels.

For example, most tank batteries will feature a separator, which breaks gas out of the oil before it gets sent for additional treatment or to stock tanks. That fluid gets controlled by a float switch which, if it stops working, can result in the separator filling up so much that the emulsion will flow over the gas line. You can uncover this problem by inspecting the sight gas and checking the functionality of the float switch. This is just one example of a problem that can occur in the battery.

The problem could also be at the well, either at the surface or below. The surface problems should be obvious, such as a leak or other functional issue, like the well being turned off too early. Problems downhole can be harder to diagnose.

For more information about common oil field tank battery issues in Carlsbad, NM and the steps you can take to resolve them, contact the team at JB Electric LLC today.

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