Huyapari Field, located in the Orinoco Oil Belt is operated by PETROPIAR, a joint venture between PDVSA and Chevron, where over 600 horizontal wells have been perforated and completed with progressive cavity pumps (PCP) as the preferred artificial lift method to produce extra heavy oil. With the objective to identify and address the main causes of failure affecting PCPs run life and performance, high repair costs as well as lost production, Root Cause Analysis (RCA) is currently being implemented, giving outstanding benefits by involving both suppliers and customers in a continuous improvement and learning experience.

Between 2003 and 2011, PCP run life was 884 days on average. In 2012, this number decreased dramatically to 306 days with no changes in the reservoir characteristics besides normal depletion. Between 2012 and 2013, 74% of installed PCPs failed before reaching one year in operation, with an average run life of 162 days. Deferred production increased significantly and annual operational expenses duplicated, mostly because of PCP replacements.

In response, Petropiar began in 2013 a joint effort with six manufacturers to review the process involving PCPs selection, design, simulation, transportation, storage, installation, operation, monitoring, diagnostic and pulling. To date, more than 100 pumps have been analyzed applying RCA and including: borescope inspection, destructive analysis, hardness measurement, simulation and review of operating conditions, production history, pump installation & pull out reports, wellbore geometry among others.

The procedure for carrying out this RCA experience and implementing lessons learned is presented in this paper, including identification of various manufacturing quality issues for which, specific tests were put in place to evaluate key characteristics like bonding for example. Quality controls requirements were revisited and elastomers compatibility tests were included as part of the procurement process. On the other hand, new non-conventional technologies have been applied to meet challenging conditions to produce extra heavy oil with high gas production. PCP run life increased by 56% while failures on PCPs with less than 365 days run life decreased by 31% when compared with previous years.

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