Sandy Williams

CEO, Artificial Lift Performance, Edinburgh, U.K.

Education: Bachelor of Engineering, Offshore Mechanical Engineering, Heriot-Watt University

Sandy Williams turned his frustration over non-optimized oil wells into a remarkable technology that’s saving oil and gas companies around the world time and money.

“After years of sharing expert artificial lift consultancy and training keen production engineers in production optimization skills, the feedback was consistent in message–we don’t have time to do this,” Williams says. “My goal was to build a software that would make oil well optimization automatic”

The technology: Pump Checker, the software Williams created, is now a functioning application of digital technologies. Its features include real-time data, cloud computing, big data and analytics.

The software works by bringing together data from various vendor monitoring systems for electric submersible pumps and gas lifted wells, and providing a singular view of the pumps and systems an operator uses. It alerts engineers to unsuspected issues, and allows them to react faster to problems.

Pump Checker’s analysis helps predict impending pump failure, continuously monitors every pump, ranks well equipment, quantifies missing barrels from degraded pumps, and more.

The technology is a reflection of Williams’ commitment to helping operators work more efficiently, colleagues say.

“He is passionate about empowering production engineers with the training, materials and tools to make better decisions, more quickly,” says Lawrence Burleigh, an ALP production optimization consultant.

“His spirit of innovation and awareness of the needs of production engineers has resulted in state-of-the-art modules regularly launched and improved. Today, his software is optimizing more than 3,000 artificially lifted oilfield wells and giving production engineers the data they need, at a glance.”

Pump Checker was commercially launched in 2014, and has been continuously updated since.

Professional path: Throughout his 30-year career, Williams has worked as an engineer for oil and gas companies throughout the U.K, U.S. and South America. 

Before founding ALP in 2004, he was petroleum engineering manager at the U.K.-based Engineering Insights Ltd.  He previously worked in the production optimization department for Schlumberger Ltd. in the U.K. and South America.

Williams, a recognized authority in artificial lift, says he was inspired to launch his own company by a desire to help the industry do better.

“My consultancy and training engagements gave me huge insight into the deficiencies of existing software products in the market place,” he says. “On almost every project I worked on, I said: ‘We need a better software tool to do this.’ I set up ALP to address these gaps and develop a product designed by a production engineer for production engineers.”

Industry participation: Williams has been ensconced in the energy industry for decades. He’s a 30-year member of the Society of Petroleum Engineers, and has served on its Electric Submersible Pumps Symposium committee since 2012.

He’s written 19 papers related to product optimization and best practices around artificial lift. He’s taught more than 200 courses worldwide in English and Spanish on subjects such as production engineering, artificial lift and operational best practices.

“My first exposure to the oil industry was as a summer student working for Amoco in the North Sea as a mechanical engineer,” he says. “I was amazed by the engineering challenges the oil industry solves. 

“After 30 years in the industry, I’m still excited by the problems we nail. Who’d believe that we install four-inch-diameter pumps and motors in an oil well, two miles deep that have the same horsepower as a Ferrari?”

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