Caño Limon is a giant field with more than 30 years of history in which the primary method of artificial lift has been electrical submersible pumps (ESP). As of December 2006 there were 304 wells with ESP installed, mostly characterized by applications with high water cut and considerable production of solids. Unstable conditions of operation and high vibration on the downhole equipment posed a challenge, mainly in high flow rates (> 15,000 BFPD) and high-horse power (> 800HP) applications. Premature wear on the motor's radial support elements as a consequence of high loads, resulted in premature failures of the system, thus impacting field performance indicators and increasing the lifting cost.

An interdisciplinary team was formed among staff of the operator and the service company to evaluate the performance of the equipment and the root cause of the failures. These activities identified the main failed components and failure modes, enabling the proposal of a technological solution to the problem.

This article describes the process through which the problem was identified, analyzed, and then solved through the implementation of a superior motor technology, which proved to be an effective answer to the problems observed in high horsepower equipment. The results promoted the use of this technology in low horsepower equipment as well, thereby reducing the number of failure incidents of this component by 50% in the years following the implementation.

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