Jet Pumps vs. ESP Artificial Lift: Are Jet Pumps Superior?

  • March 6, 2023
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Jet Pumps vs. ESP Artificial Lift: Are Jet Pumps Superior?

  • March 6, 2023
  • Share

Electric submersible pumps (ESP) and jet pumps are both types of pumps used to artificially lift fluids to the surface. However, they work in different ways. ESPs are typically used for deeper wells and are placed directly into the wellbore. They use a motor to turn an impeller and force the water to the surface. In contrast, jet pumps are placed on the surface and use a jet of high-pressure water to create a partial vacuum that lifts the water to the surface.

Jet Pumps vs. ESP Lift

Jet pumps frequently reduce workover costs in harsh environments, including sandy, high-volume wells, because they have no moving parts downhole. While the initial costs associated with jet pumps may equal or sometimes exceed those of other artificial lift methods, jet pumping almost always reduces lease operating expenses in crooked, sandy or corrosive wells simply by reducing the need for workovers. Downhole components are very durable and it’s not uncommon for jet pump systems to last three to five years in situations where an ESP or rod pumped-well may require a workover every six months to a year.

The biggest advantage jet pump systems have over traditional designs is the surface pump, which uses working fluid to drive the jet pump downhole. JJ Tech uses a positive displacement diaphragm pump manufactured by Wanner Engineering, which has a seal-less design that eliminates the need for lubricating plungers and replacing worn packing, greatly reducing maintenance and lease operating expenses. The system also eliminates packer failure that can cause hydrocarbon spills, resulting in damage to the environment.


In many field applications, ESP systems provide several operational advantages over other forms of artificial lift. An ESP is especially suited for moderate-to-high production rate wells, including highly deviated wells and remote, subsea deep water wells. The systems are quiet and safe and require a smaller surface footprint than some other lift systems, making them a preferred option for offshore applications.

However, a number of operational challenges must be considered when employing an ESP system, which relies on the performance of an onboard electric motor. Even though ESP systems can be built with special abrasion-resistant metallurgies and upgraded radial bearing materials and configuration, ESP run times can be severely compromised in high sand and solids content environments. And while ESP systems can operate at 0° to 90° inclinations, their application is restricted by the well curvature through which they must pass during deployment and landing.

High and Low Gas-to-Oil (GOR) Wells: Jet Pumps vs. ESP Lifts

Generally speaking, ESPs are more commonly used in wells with high GOR, whereas jet pumps are used in wells with low GOR. However, JJ Tech’s patented jet pumps are designed with no moving parts in the diaphragm pump at the surface, with downhole components that have proven to last up to five years. An ESP may need workover every six months to a year. Our Jet Pumps have the highest mechanical reliability on the market.

Deep and Shallow Wells: Jet Pumps vs. ESP Lifts

In general, some wells are too deep for artificial lift methods. There are several factors involved when determining which method is best for the depth of your well. Operators can typically run both Jet Pumps and ESPs at depths up to 15,000 TVD. For shallow wells, Jet Pumps are typically more efficient because the design requires fewer components, no moving parts, and little maintenance. Further, Jet Pumps are generally less expensive than ESPs, making them a cost-effective choice for shallow wells with low production rates.

Artificial Lift Frequently Asked Questions: Jet Pumps vs. ESP Lifts

Which artificial lift is most efficient? The answer depends entirely on the conditions of the well.

What is the most common artificial lift system? Sucker rod pumping is the most frequently used artificial lift method.

Which artificial lift method is used for deviated wells? This depends on the well. In general, some methods require too many downhole components making them unsuitable for deviated and horizontal wells. JJ Tech’s Jet Pumps are hydraulically powered from the surface, meaning there is no mechanical connection between the surface pump and the downhole jet pump – resulting in proven reliability in deviated wells.

What is the major disadvantage of submersible pumps? One major disadvantage of submersible pumps is that they can be more expensive and difficult to install and maintain compared to other artificial lift methods.

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Jet Pumps vs. ESP Artificial Lift: Are Jet Pumps Superior?

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