In 2002, during front-end planning for a project in China, the operator Anadarko understood that the electrical submersible pumping (ESP) system run life would be one of the critical factors for the project's success.

Therefore, consideration of the complete ESP lifecycle was taken into account. This included design, equipment specification, contracting strategy, installation practices, commissioning procedures, operating practices including optimization and troubleshooting, as well as ESP teardown and inspection.

The challenge was to provide ESP systems that could:

  • Cover initial low productivity index (PI) / low fluid rates

  • Cover final high PI / high fluid rates

  • Produce heavy oil

  • Meet all the above conditions while keeping the ESPs within their operating envelopes

This drove the concept developed for the ESP design. The principle is still being used more than six years since its first production.

The final design included the following features:

  • Encapsulated ESPs to assist with motor cooling at lower fluid rates and heavy oil production

  • Pumps with abrasion-resistant technology selected to cover the required large range of flow rates

  • Geothermal-specification motors to allow operation at higher temperatures

  • Comms-on-power down-hole sensors for continuous monitoring and optimization

Since coming on line, ESPs have been installed and operated very successfully in the CFD group of fields and have been exceeding all run life expectations. Of the 110 ESPs operating, the average run life since the start of production is 3.5 years, with 30 (28%) running more than four years and the longest ESP run life so far at 6.1 years.

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