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Progressing Cavity Pump Run-Life Improvement

The Industry Challenge:

In 1998, several Canadian heavy oil producers expressed a need to significantly improve the average run life of Progressing Cavity Pumps (PCP).

At the time, each operator, with the assistance of various pump vendors, tracked the performance of their pumping systems.

However, it was difficult to compare data among the pump vendors since different nomenclatures were used to describe the failure mode of the pumping systems.

In addition, any one operator did not have a large enough set of pump performance data and failure descriptions to generate statistically meaningful conclusions regarding the factors that were influencing pump performance.

How the JIP Helps:

The first objective of the JIP was to develop a standard nomenclature to describe the condition of a failed pump and to provide clear definitions of designations such as failure mechanism and failure mode.

The JIP also established the minimum set of data that was required to describe the pumping system, operating conditions, production performance and failure condition.

Initially, data collected from the vendors was “translated” into the standard nomenclature before being uploaded into the project database. Over time, the standard nomenclature and data set definition were adopted by the vendors as the project demonstrated the value of collecting complete, consistent and correct data sets.

Phase I of the project was completed in 2003, which included a combined field data gathering and synthesis effort on a selected set of representative fields in Alberta and Saskatchewan, Canada, followed by comprehensive analysis of the collected data.

Predominant failure mechanisms were identified in heavy and light oil applications, and the impact of several variables on failure rates were investigated.

Recommendations were made on how to achieve a reduction in failure rates and an improvement in run life through the implementation of better equipment selection and operating practices.

Subsequent phases of the project have focused on collecting pump performance and failure data and the development of a web-based Reliability Information and Failure Tracking System (RIFTS) to facilitate the sharing of PCP reliability and operational information among operators throughout the world.

The project website provides various analysis tools for the project participants to investigate how their pumping systems perform compared to other operators and to understand the factors that influence pump run life.

For more information on the JIP, please visit the project website:

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