Progressing cavity pumps (PCP) have been the preferred method of lift for cold heavy oil production for years. They were generally not considered a complex technology, unlike electric submersible pumps for example, and this resulted in many misapplications and poor performance.

Until the PCP industry started to push the envelope in terms of landed depth, production volumes, gas handling, viscosity and aromatics, that testing programs emerged to understand the science behind PCP performance under various conditions. This paper will describe some of the recent findings from these test programs that will help to better select and design a PCP system for heavy oil. Some of this work includes understanding gas handling capabilities, rod string torsion, elastomer swell, metallic stators, and the effects of speed and rotor - stator fit on PCP run life.

The PCP industry has also been plagued with the lack of a "common language" which makes communication of lessons learned and data sharing difficult. This paper will describe the efforts of a group of operating companies to standardize nomenclature and data parameters to facilitate analysis and benchmarking to identify areas for improvement and gaps for technology advancement. This paper will also provide information from the group of PCP users and manufacturers that worked together since early 2006 to create comprehensive international standards and recommended practices for the manufacturing and testing of these pumping systems.

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