Managing large‐scale electrical submersible pump (ESP) operations and assessing their performance can be a challenging task. Diverse operational environments, widely spread geographical areas, large ESP populations, and different service providers are some of the complications facing operators. Nonetheless, it is vital to the success of any artificial lift project to establish a performance evaluation structure that can effectively capture deficiencies and highlight improvements.

While many operators focus on run life statistics as the central key performance indicator (KPI) for ESPs, these types of statistics may not be sufficient in providing meaningful information to decision makers. Other important ESP performance parameters include ESP shutdowns (both planned and unplanned), restart time of tripped ESPs, commissioning time, failure rate, and the number of premature ESP failures. Thus, a comprehensive study was jointly initiated between an oil operator and ESP vendors to establish KPIs that drive improvements in all aspects. The selected KPIs were developed in a structure that ultimately focuses on maximizing production availability and revenue generation.

By constructing the ESP KPI framework, subpar performance areas were clearly visible by both the operator and the service provider. Decision makers were able to identify and act on fields that lag in performance while exerting efforts to improve underperforming service providers. Furthermore, regular meetings were conducted to review the established KPIs and recommend some action items, which might focus on either technical or operational solutions. Finally, KPI targets were set on the basis of the review of historical trends and were assigned to be challenging yet relevant and attainable. The followed practice can prove to be successful in forming a common ground where service providers can quantify losses by the operator as a result of ESP performance deficiencies.

Comprehensive data collection and keeping of ESP trips, failures, and replacements are critical to the success of this work. Regular review of field reports and well performance are imperative to accurately compute the various KPI formulas. In fact, many of the KPI calculations can be automated to capitalize on the available communication networks installed in the field to improve ESP monitoring and accurately assess their performance.

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