Artificial Lift Case Study: A Mississippian Lime well was tested on an electrical submersible pump (ESP) after previous installations were unsatisfactory.

The three main objectives of the test were: (1) to determine if the run life and production of an ESP system could be increased on a gas-slugging well; (2) to implement a downhole recirculation system inside an artificial sump; and (3) to monitor the economic impact of the installation of the ESP unit to the well.

The challenges for the ESP system for this specific test included: (i) low liquid inflow during severe gas slugging; (ii) high gas/liquid ratio (>800 SCF/BBL); (iii) difficult startup conditions; (iv) thermal and mechanical damage to motor lead extensions.

Due to these challenges, using traditional gas-separation and gas-handling technology was considered a disadvantage. A downhole recirculation system inside an artificial sump was used as an alternative method to prevent potential gas locking, to circulate fluid to keep the motor cool, and to enhance reservoir drawdown.

This paper presents basic principles of the application of ESP systems in a gassy and gas-slugging well, principles of implementing a downhole recirculation system, and uncommon techniques to effectively operate an ESP unit in gas-slugging wells. Historical design challenges system-specific design/operation, and production results of the tested well are also presented.

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