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ESP Reliability in High Curvature Wellbores

Industry Challenge

The use of electric submersible pumps in horizontal wells in Steam Assisted Gravity Drainage (SAGD) and shale oil operations has introduced the problem of installing pumps through high dog leg section and operating long pump assemblies in the build section of the well. The curvature imposed on the pumping system can cause misalignment of components leading to elevated side loads on bearings and other components. This can lead to vibrations, reduced bearing life and wear that can significantly reduce the run life of a pumping system. In extreme cases, the bending loads imposed on the pumping system components have the potential to cause catastrophic failures of the component connections where stresses can often concentrate.

How the JIP helps

The project is developing analysis methods and software tools to help operating companies understand the effects of well curvature on pump performance and to design pumping systems and deployment strategies to maximize pump run life.

A detailed approach was developed that estimates the amount and distribution of bending that occurs in each component of a pumping system installed in a specified well profile. Operators can select different component configurations and pump placement in the well to minimize the amount of bending in the pumping system. The new models of pump bending were verified through a series of full-scale bend tests on a variety of pumping system assemblies. Pump performance data from existing installations is used to evaluate how different amounts of bending influences pump run life.

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