As the use of electric submersible pumps (ESPs) increases in critical production operations, i.e., offshore and high production wells, the need for more efficient systems to replace the traditional jointed pipe installation and retrieval process becomes more relevant. Methods such as coiled tubing (CT) and wireline deployment have been used in the past with varying degrees of success and deployment with power cable is making its way into mainstream ESP applications. All alternative ESP deployment methods face issues when it comes to wellbore control, especially in applications where ESPs are installed to boost production in naturally flowing wells. This paper examines well control challenges associated with cable deployed ESP (CDESP) installation and retrieval, and provides strategies to carry out these operations safely.

Careful review of current ESP change out operations with workover rigs leads to the development of an equivalent well control strategy for rigless CDESPs. Well permanent completion design, the required components on the blowout preventer's (BOP) stack, and deployment and retrieval procedures are established. This strategy eliminates the use of expensive and duplicative well control barriers with no operational safety being compromised.

Moving from workover rig-based ESP change out to through tubing rigless operation is a major undertaking with many challenges of which well control is a key element. This paper provides a comprehensive review of all relevant issues and presents a practical strategy to ensure safe and economical field operations.

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