Electric submersible pumps (ESPs)—one of the most versatile and adaptable methods of artificial lift—are deployed in an estimated 150,000 to 200,000 wells worldwide. An ESP consists of a series of centrifugal pump stages contained within a protective housing mated to a submersible electric motor. It is installed at the end of the production tubing; an armor-protected cable connects the pump to electric power and surface controls.
By controlling motor speed from surface, operators can vary the production flow rate from 16 to 4,770 m3/d [100 to 30,000 bbl/d]. This range is far greater than that possible using other pump-type artificial lift methods. An ESP is especially appropriate for moderate-to-high-production rate wells, including highly deviated wells and remote, subsea deepwater wells. As production rates fall, the pump motor can be slowed to accommodate, without an expensive well intervention.
A Defining Series article "Electrical Submersible Pumps" describes the basics of ESP operation, design and application. Modern ESP installations include intelligent, remote terminal, unit-programmable controllers and variable speed drives at the surface to maintain the proper flow of electricity to the pump motor. Read the article here.
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