Improving Electric Submersible Pump (ESP) system reliability, eliminating or reducing failures, comprise the most frequent requests from O&G operators. Over the last few decades, notable design improvements have been made with the use of computer aided design, rapid prototyping techniques, and use space age materials. But the average ESP run life has increased marginally, and remains at around three years.

ESP failures have important economic implications for O&G operators, including: nonproductive time, production deferral, production losses, and high cost of ESP replacements, especially for offshore or remote wells. Operators have tried different approaches to incentivize ESP vendors to improve ESP reliability, including: performance based contracts, internal research, open research, joint industry projects, and market competition. Despite these efforts, the goal of a ten-year run life remains elusive.

Saudi Aramco has set a very aggressive target of operating ESPs for an average of ten years without failure. This paper explores the likelihood of developing an ultra-reliable submersible pump system that can meet this challenging objective. It discusses the fundamental issues that currently prevent achieving higher ESP reliability, and also evaluates potential approaches to the reliability improvement challenge. Finally, the paper examines technical, operational, economic and market implications of such alternatives, for both O&G operators and ESP vendors

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