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Through-Tubing-Conveyed ESP Technology Overcomes North Slope Challenges

Topics: Artificial lift

Electrical-submersible-pump (ESP) technology is a proven artificial-lift method for shallow, low-pressure reservoirs such as those found in the West Sak viscous oil field in Alaska. However, the unconsolidated nature of the West Sak sands challenges the long-term lifting performance and reliability of conventional ESP systems. The case study in this paper includes the analysis of the two generations of rigless ESP systems, quantifying the success rate in varying conditions in more than 300 rigless ESP replacements in a high-sand, high-deviation environment on Alaska’s North Slope.

Through-Tubing (Rigless) ESP Technology: Generation 1 and Generation 2

In 1998, the operator developed through-tubing-conveyed (TTC) ESP (TTCESP)/TTC progressive-cavity-pump (PCP) (TTCPCP) technology to allow failed pumps (ESP or PCP) to be replaced quickly and economically using conventional equipment without a rig. In this first-generation rigless ESP system, a rig deploys conventionally, on tubing, the electric cable, motor, and seal sections, with a special latching device that allows the pump (only the pump, not the motor or seal) to be pulled and replaced by use of slickline (SL) or coiled tubing (CT), without a rig.

In 2014, a second-generation rigless ESP system was introduced that added the ability to deploy and retrieve the motor and seal using conventional SL equipment, leaving full-bore access to the lower completion and producing zone. In addition to the ability to replace a failed pump or motor, this fully retrievable ESP system brought additional value by allowing simple, low-cost SL, electric-line, and CT access to the lower completion once the ESP was retrieved without the need for a rig.

Fig. 1 shows the progression of through-tubing development from the conventional tubing-conveyed ESP to the TTCESP and, finally, to the Generation 2 wireline-retrievable ESP (WRESP). 

This article, written by JPT Technology Editor Chris Carpenter, contains highlights of paper SPE 193783, “Through-Tubing-Conveyed Wireless ESP Technology: A 20-Year Case History of Wireline-Retrievable ESPs,” by John Patterson, Patterson Consulting; Grant Dornan and Gary Targac, SPE, ConocoPhillips; David Malone and Samer Cheblak, AccessSEP; Jennifer Julian, SPE, BP; and Matthew Walker, AccessESP, prepared for the 2018 SPE International Heavy Oil Conference and Exhibition, Kuwait City, Kuwait, 10–12 December. The paper has not been peer reviewed.
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Through-Tubing-Conveyed ESP Technology Overcomes North Slope Challenges

01 March 2019

Volume: 71 | Issue: 3

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