Production More Than Doubles in Mature Heavy Oil Wells | SLB

Electric submersible PCPs more than double heavy oil production

Africa, Offshore

An operator offshore Africa used the KUDU electric submersible progressive cavity pump with permanent magnet motor (ESPCP PMM) to overcome challenges faced by gas lift and ESPs in two wells producing heavy oil with emulsions.

In a mature shallow-water oil field offshore Africa, approximately 90% of the producing wells use artificial lift—mostly gas lift and some ESPs. The wells on one platform produce heavy oil (13 API); because of the high 1,500‑cP to 2,500-cP viscosity and presence of oil-water emulsions, gas lift was inefficient. Average production from Well A and Well B, for example, was just 216 bbl/d and 234 bbl/d respectively, with the help of gas lift. The operator installed an ESP in Well C to increase production, but the flow regime led to unstable intake and discharge pressures and intake temperatures, unstable and high motor temperature (about 180 degF [82 degC]), and high power consumption. The result was frequent shutdowns, and production remained suboptimal. A new strategy was required.

SLB recommended its KUDU ESPCP PMM, which can produce viscous fluids and emulsions with low power consumption and high efficiency. The PMM exhibits low power loss in the rotor and enhanced dynamic performance with a variable frequency drive (VFD) specifically designed for PMMs. The technology does not require a sucker rodstring, eliminating the challenge of rod and tubing wear in deviated wells, and it complies with the mandatory safety valve requirement for offshore wells.

A Phoenix xt150™ standard ESP monitoring system installed with the ESPCP would monitor downhole parameters such as intake and discharge pressures, intake and motor temperatures, and vibration. This system incorporates state-of-the-art, high-temperature microelectronics and reliable digital telemetry; it communicates with the surface through a dedicated permanent downhole cable that isolates the gauge from electrical noise on the ESPCP power cable.

Additionally, Lift IQ™ production life cycle management service was proposed to provide 24/7 remote monitoring, troubleshooting, and optimization.

The operator agreed to implement the new solution in Well A and Well B. Average oil production from these wells rose to 457 bbl/d/well, a 103% improvement. Lift IQ service provided continuous monitoring of downhole parameters, such as intake and discharge pressures, which are critical for well optimization and troubleshooting. It also enabled remote starts and stops via the VFD, which reduced human interventions on the platform. Pumps in both wells have been running for more than 500 days, compared with a run life of 266 days for the ESP in Well C. The operator plans to deploy ESPCP PMMs in additional wells.

Image of a KUDU electric submersible progressive cavity pump with permanent magnet motor in workshop
With its ability to produce viscous fluids and emulsions with low power consumption and high efficiency, the KUDU ESPCP PMM stabilized and increased production.
Products Used