This article, written by Assistant Technology Editor Karen Bybee, contains highlights of paper SPE 136407, ’Best Practices & Innovations for Improved ESP Performance; Mature Field Case History; TNK-BP Company, Russian Federation,’ by D.C. Borling, SPE, BP, and S.V. Sviderskiy, SPE, and, S.F. Gorlanov, SPE, TNK-BP, originally prepared for the 2010 SPE Russian Oil & Gas Technical Conference and Exhibition, Moscow, 26-28 October. The paper has not been peer reviewed.

Leadership, teamwork, and technical ingenuity were critical strategy elements that resulted in an 82% run-life improvement for electrical-submersible-pump (ESP) systems in the TNK-BP company. During the past 4 years, the 12-month rolling mean time between failure (MTBF) steadily improved from 295 days during January 2006 to the current 541 days in July 2010. This 246-day improvement was achieved across more than 14,250 ESPs and achieved USD 307 million value to date.


TNK-BP is a privately owned oil and gas joint venture. The company was formed in 2003 and for the past 7 years its upstream producing operations were located primarily in West Siberia (Khanty-Mansiysk and Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Districts, Tyumen Region), East Siberia (Irkutsk Region), and Volga-Urals (Orenburg Region).

As of July 2010, the company operated more than 200 hydrocarbon-bearing fields with approximately 15,700 active producing oil wells. More than 98% of these wells used artificial lift.

In TNK-BP, ESP systems refer to both surface and downhole equipment components. Surface components include transformer, switchboard (and/or variable-speed motor controller), and a relatively short surface power cable. Downhole components include pump intake (and/or gas separator), seal element, motor, and a long downhole cable (used to transfer power from the surface to the motor).

Operating Conditions

Each of the company’s 14 regional business locations has unique operating conditions. By mid-2010, more than 50 different types of ESP equipment were deployed across the company to lift a wide range of produced-fluid rates and gas and solid content.

Approximately 92% of all deployed ESP equipment was manufactured within the Russian Federation. The remaining 8% was imported for use in complicated well conditions and harsh downhole operating environments.

TNK-BP deployed ESP equipment in almost every type of downhole condition imaginable. Harshest conditions included a mixture of high temperature, abrasive solids, scaling, asphaltene, paraffin, high free-gas content, and corrosive fluids.


Without good teamwork on a massive scale across five business segments and 14 regional businesses, the TNK-BP ESP-MTBF-improvement initiative would not have achieved the intended results.

A best practice was the method used to align ESP MTBF key performance indicators and work plans at the start of each year. While this alignment was a big undertaking, it proved itself to be worth the effort each year.

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