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The technique of using gas lift to lighten a fluid column so it will continue to flow naturally goes back to the mid-19th century. One of the oldest known artificial lift techniques, gas lift is elegant in its simplicity, a fact that has contributed to its longevity. But even a winning technique can benefit from a little 21st-century technology. Although gas lift has been economical and generally reliable over the years, it has suffered from a few shortcomings. Principal among these are gas injection rate limitations, inadequate maximum operating pressure ratings and leaks back to the annulus.
Despite its simplicity and economic benefits, gas lift has had limited application for stimulating production from subsea installations. Typically, subsea wells are allowed to produce naturally, or are augmented by water injection schemes or seabed booster systems that reduce backpressure on the wellhead. After these techniques have reached their economic limits, the wells typically have been abandoned.
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