An operator planned to install ESPs to overcome high water cut and minimize the gas supply risk for a gas lift completion at a platform in the Gulf of Mexico. The platform is an oil collection point and its continuous operation is essential during any rig-assisted interventions. To maintain platform operation, three wells were selected for deployment of rigless electrical submersible pump (ESP) replacement systems to avoid the future use of a workover rig. The challenge was to allow a single-trip ESP deployment using the crane facilities with existing height limitations.
A special surface connection system was designed to allow long ESP sections to connect under pressure at the wellhead. The technology is based on a propriotery system and method of connecting long strings at the surface using a surface lubricator and an adapted deployment stack. The system elements are located between the pump intake and protector seal sections of a standard ESP string that can easily and economically sourced in most locations. This new technology reduces the number of wireline/slickline runs needed, and the system features allow verification of mechanical connection integrity at the surface prior to deployment in the well.
The successful deployment and commissioning of a rigless ESP replacement system in the SM 130 A-26 well in the Gulf of Mexico was completed in October 2019 without incident. Prior to the deployment of the rigless ESP replacement system, it was decided to perform hydraulic stimulation operations to improve the well productivity. This operation resulted in higher than expected well inflow with increased water cut. At the time of writing this paper, the ESP system had recently failed to start due to stuck pump (possibly scale related). Due to the ability to perform a rigless system upgrade for the unanticipated well inflow conditions, the operator is planning for the first rigless replacement of the existing ESP to achieve higher flow rate during the last quarter of 2021.
The successful deployment of the alternative ESP deployment technology demonstrated the potential to improve the economics of the existing production facilities by reducing production deferment, minimizing health, safety, and environment (HSE) exposure; and improving the asset value. This paper discusses the engineered solution and application of the technology required to deploy long ESP strings, modifications required for the specific well conditions, and the lessons learned during the first successful deployment of rigless ESP technology in the Gulf of Mexico. Due to the performance and capability demonstrated in the first successful installation, Talos Energy has recently installed its second rigless ESP replacement system in a recompleted zone and is planning for installing its third system in the SM 130 field in 2022.