Offshore Installation of Rigless Shuttle ESP

Published: 05/25/2021

Schlumberger Oilfield Services

Electric submersible pumps (ESPs) used as an artificial lift method have a relatively short life span despite the industry's efforts to improve reliability. The resulting economic impact realized in workover costs and production loss is substantial. This has driven efforts toward design change by introducing retrievable ESP independent of the completion string and hence extending ESP wells’ life cycle. This paper covers the company's first installation of a rigless shuttle ESP system, including a customized completion design and special deployment procedures.

A comprehensive approach was taken to deploy this technology, from procurement to installation, in a detailed process. It started with acquiring reservoir data and setting up matching specifications for the required equipment in order to issue a competitive tender. Following technical evaluation of tender submissions, the most suitable technology was selected for the field trial. The completion design was then customized to accommodate the new technology without jeopardizing well integrity. Fit-for-purpose well barriers were incorporated in the completion design because conventional barriers were not applicable. Detailed running procedures were produced from dedicated workshops and risk assessment reviews. Project execution was closely monitored and firmly controlled.

The company has accomplished the first successful offshore deployment of the shuttle ESP system in the MENA region. The system was deployed using tailored procedures for installation and comprehensive testing while ensuring compliance with well barrier requirements. Following successful deployment, the ESP performance was positively tested. Part of the project validation requirement was a rigless retrieval and redeployment the ESP system. The ESP retrieval process was challenging due to unexpected tar or asphaltene material encountered above the ESP. However, contingency retrieval procedures were promptly amended with detailed steps to overcome this challenge, which led to successful retrieval and redeployment of the ESP without NPT. This success is paving the way for a major change in the company's field development strategies by considering rigless, replaceable ESP systems instead of the conventional ESPs.

This paper sheds the light on a new advancement in completion technology that has a strong potential to prevail for ESP-lifted wells in the future. The focus of the paper is on the design and execution parts, as well as installation and post-completion operations while maintaining sufficient well barriers―the challenging aspect that appears to be slowing down the wider use of this technology as a replacement of conventional ESP completions.

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