Heavy and extra-heavy oils have been traditionally produced using sucker rod pumping. However, this production method is inefficient, highly energy consuming, and the useful life of the equipment is short. Therefore, other methods of artificial lift have to be evaluated, in order to exploit the heavy oil reserves more efficiently and economically.

In this paper, the results of a pilot test using an electrical submergible pump to produce extra-heavy oil (9.2 °API) in the Orinoco Belt, Eastern Venezuela, are presented. The maximum production rate obtained was 1,170 BOPD (186 M3/D), which is 700 BOPD (111 M3/D) higher than the maximum rate obtained with sucker rod pumping in the same well. No diluent was used in this particular test.

The pumping efficiency obtained (37.7%) indicates that with a higher capacity pump, production rates of up to 2,000 BOPD (318 M3/D), without the use of diluent, can be achieved.

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