Defining ESPs

Published: 08/19/2016

Schlumberger Oilfield Services

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.

The Defining Series provides E&P professionals with concise, authoritative, up-to-date summaries of a wide range of industry topics. See the "Electrical Submersible Pumps" article and other summaries in the Defining Series library.