Multiphase fluid handling technology has been applied worldwide in its commercial version since 1984, specializing in pumping medium and light crude oil and its associated gas. This technology was applied to Venezuela's heavy/extra-heavy crude oils in 1995 in a field evaluation in Corpoven's Arecuna Field, Hamaca Area in the Orinoco Belt. This was done by installing a multiphase pump with a capacity of 53.5 MSTBD equivalent (5.5 MSTBD of liquid and 48 MSTBD equivalent of gas), an intake pressure of 30 psi, and a maximum discharge pressure of 700 psi (a pressure differential of 670 psi). This equipment was designed to handle the production associated with eight wells, located 5.28 miles from the nearest crude oil separation and treatment facilities.

After 3260 hours of continuous operation, the results obtained from the evaluation of the two-screw multiphase pump show normal behavior, handling a flow of 52 MSTBD equivalent (11 MSTBD of liquid and 41 MSTBD equivalent of gas), an intake pressure of 20 psi, and a discharge pressure of 300 psi (a pressure differential of 280 psi). The average power consumption was 400 kw/hr. Results empowered Corpoven to include multiphase technology as a component of its existing new developments. Multiphase pump low pressure intakes have resulted in lower pressures at well heads (from 140 psi to an average of 80 psi), allowing a 12.5% production increase, equivalent to 220 STBD.

The purpose of this paper is to reveal the results obtained from a field evaluation of a multiphase pump application in Venezuelan heavy/extra-heavy crude oil production areas. Additionally, this paper includes an economic analysis of multiphase versus conventional gathering facilities and operating recommendations based on a commercial pilot test.


Corpoven's heavy/extra-heavy crude oil production has traditionally been handled and transported through a flow station-production station arrangement, where produced fluids are collected, separated, measured, and subsequently treated and transported to different destinations (compressor plants for gas and tank farms for crude oil). This conventional scheme has worked efficiently when the processes are continuously optimized, however, the costs of installations and major equipment have increased considerably, in addition to the operational inconveniences represented by the presence of crude oil storage sites scattered around the producing areas. In order to take advantage of new technologies that add value to processes of gathering, handling and transportation of produced fluids to the production stations, and reduced investment and operating costs, beginning in 1995 Corpoven has began to apply multiphase pumping technology on heavy/extra-heavy crude oil production in the Arecuna field within the Orinoco Belt.

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