The main artificial lift method used in the field Corcel, located in the Llanos Basin, since its beginning in 2007, is the electric submersible pump (ESP). Until April 2011, 9 ESP units were running with an average run life of 218 days and, during those four (4) years, a total of 37 installations were performed, of which 21 were associated to ESP failures. As a result of the high number of failures and low run life presented, an interdisciplinary research group was created, including production, completion, reliability, product and applications engineers from Petrominerales and Baker Hughes, with the ultimate goal of increasing the life of the equipment, reducing intervention costs and minimizing deferred production.

Failure analysis focused on two main points: identification of the affected components and root cause of the failures. First results evidenced that the seal was the most affected component of the Electric Submersible Pump, and, more specifically, the elastomer bags and mechanical seals. Although the initial root cause of failure was not clear and was associated exclusively to a problem of compatibility between the seal elastomers and the well fluids, a further detailed analysis was performed to determine other possible failure mechanisms of this component.

This paper aims to describe and analyze the failure mechanisms, as well as to provide the solutions designed specifically to mitigate them, starting with the development of a new technology such as the SP1 seal to substantially improve the lifetime of the equipment. An illustration of one of the most important applications of fluid characterization for the sizing or selection of an ESP is presented, as well as the results in reduction of deferred production and intervention costs.

You can access this article if you purchase or spend a download.