Over the last few decades numerous improvements have been made on electrical submersible pump (ESP) components, however, ESP reliability has just marginally increased. Operators have tried different approaches to incentivize ESP vendors to improve ESP reliability, including: strategic alliances, rental agreements, performance based contracts, just to name just a few. None of these approaches seem to have worked and the high reliability goal remains elusive. ESP failures have important economic implications for oil and gas operators, including nonproductive time (NPT), production deferral, production losses and the high cost of ESP replacements, especially for offshore or remote wells. Saudi Aramco has set an aggressive target of operating ESPs an average of 10 years without failure. This paper explores the likelihood of developing such an ESP system, it discusses the fundamental issues that currently prevent achieving higher reliability levels and also evaluates from different angles the potential solutions for approaching the reliability improvement challenge. Finally, it discusses the technical, operational, economic and market implications of such alternatives for both oil and gas operators and ESP vendors.

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