Enhanced oil recovery methods (EOR) methods such as Steam Assisted Gravity Drainage (SAGD), Cyclic Steam Stimulation (CSS), steam drive, solvent and electric heating allow production of highly viscous crude oil at elevated operating temperatures (>160°C). The choice of artificial lift technique is critical to overall well performance. Therefore it has been a challenge to find a reliable artificial lift pumping system for heavy oil thermal recovery. Available options such as beam pumps and electrical submersible pumps (ESP), which are well proven in the petroleum industry, are not particularly well suited for thermal production. Progressing Cavity Pumps (PCP), with elastomeric stator, are economic to run and have performed well in heavy oil cold production. Since their elastomers are limited in temperature (<160°C), a metal PCP technology has been developed through numerous research works to meet the high temperature requirement of SAGD and other thermal recovery processes.
This paper describes the successful application of KUDU PCM VulcainTM metal PCP systems for SAGD process in Athabasca reservoir, beginning from 2007. We made analysis on production optimization in SAGD well pairs equipped with the PCM Vulcain™, which consists of a hydroformed metal stator and matching rotor utilizing special metallurgy to resist wear and maximize run life. In particular, the production with metal PCP in these wells reached the value of 200 m3/d at pump intake temperature of 200°C, performing volumetric efficiency of 82%. In general, the field results have demonstrated that the strong resistance of metal PCPs to chemical and mechanical degradation makes them a good alternative for the cold production of heavy and extra heavy oil with relatively high bottomhole temperatures and high aromatic, CO2 or H2S concentrations. This paper can be a guide for special heavy oil hot production PCP technologies to be spread and applied for EOR projects widely in the world.