Eni installed the world's first offshore Rigless Fully Retrievable Electrical Submersible Pump (RFR-ESP) system in an Eni Congo field in April 2012. The ESP failed after four years, and the system was successfully replaced rigless, by means of a slickline unit and a pumping unit.

The job included the complete path from design and operations definition to the ESP commissioning and follow-up.

Replacement operations were split in three different phases:

  • Pull Out Of Hole (POOH): retrieval of the system and verification of the failed item(s).

  • Run In Hole preparation: order, shipment, test and preparation of the items to be run in hole.

  • Run In Hole (RIH): system deployment, commissioning and follow-up.

The separation in time of the three phases was mainly due to the logistic arrangements required for the shipment of the various items to be replaced.

Major attention was given to HSEQ aspects in every phase.

The job resulted in the complete rigless replacement of the retrievable part of the ESP system, which allowed remarkable cost savings, compared to a rig intervention for the same scope of work, in terms of both direct costs and gains for avoiding well downtime and production delay.

Better results and further contractions of times and costs could have been achieved by improving the management of operations and logistics. However, being this the first job of this kind worldwide, it was challenging in that no model or benchmark was available at that time.

Some lessons learnt from the POOH phase were directly applied during the RIH phase, while others were reported in order to be implemented in future similar jobs. Since the economic impact of this type of job is remarkable, the sharing of knowledge is key to enhance performance of analogous applications, in a safe and efficient manner.

This paper describes the job performed, explaining the choices made, the criticalities encountered, as well as the lessons learnt and the benefits achieved.

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