Artificial Lift and Sustainability in ESP Systems

Numerous industries in our world have prioritized sustainability over the last couple decades, increasingly so in recent years, and the oil and gas industries are no exception here. There are a wide range of ways that individuals and entities in these industries are looking to become more eco-friendly and incorporate more sustainable practices into their regular processes, and this is just one of several areas where electric submersible pump systems (ESPs) provide great value.

At Extract Production, we provide the very best electric submersible pump products and solutions available to clients in these industries, offering several major benefits -- including for entities looking to improve sustainability practices. One key concept that's at play here is that of artificial lift; what is artificial lift, and what are some of the ways the use of it within an ESP system helps lower carbon footprint? Let's have a look at this increasingly important area. 

Understanding Artificial Lift in Pumping

Artificial lift is a common and vital process in the oil and gas world, one that involves the use of mechanical means to raise hydrocarbons from a well that would otherwise be unable to flow naturally. When it comes to hydrocarbon extraction, there are three primary phases: primary, secondary, and tertiary; in the primary phase, natural reservoir pressure is used to push fluids to the surface, while in the secondary phase water or gas injection is used to maintain reservoir pressure and improve production. In the tertiary phase, which is also sometimes known as enhanced oil recovery, artificial lift becomes necessary.

There are many different types of artificial lift systems and technologies that can be employed, with each having its own advantages and disadvantages; choices here will depend on factors such as the depth of the well, the production rate, the fluid properties, and more. The most commonly used artificial lift methods are gas lift, progressive cavity pumps, hydraulic pumps, and electric submersible pumps -- and it's the latter of these that we focus on at Extract Production. 

How Artificial Lift Works in ESP Systems

It's also important to understand how artificial lift works in an electric submersible pump system, as this is a key area where sustainability benefits can be seen. Electric submersible pumps are often used in deep wells and heavy oil reservoirs, and they work by using a long multistage centrifugal pump that is set in the well fluid, suspended from production tubing.

This kind of setup offers multiple potential advantages for producers in the oil and gas field when it comes to sustainability. Let's dig into these in our subsequent sections.

Lower Energy Requirements

One key area of general sustainability involves simply using less energy to accomplish the same tasks, and this is an area where electric submersible pumps tend to excel. In many cases, these kinds of pump systems will require less energy than other types of artificial lift methods (such as gas lift), making them a more sustainable choice from an energy consumption perspective.

At the core of this is the energy impact on two specific components of the ESP: The motor and the surface controller, which use the most power in a typical setup. Near the bottom of your Down Hole ESP setup is an electric motor -- by using an induction motor as opposed to a synchronous motor, you can see large reductions in energy consumption. In addition, variable speed drives (VSDs) can be used with ESP systems to further improve efficiency and reduce energy usage; this is the surface controller we mentioned earlier, which helps deliver power to the electric motor down below. 

When you put all of this together, you can see that electric submersible pump systems have a reduced energy consumption requirement when compared to other kinds of artificial lift, making them more sustainable from an energy standpoint.

Limited Surface Footprint

There are also several ways ESPs using artificial lift reduce the overall carbon footprint on the surface of the setup. For one, their lack of hazardous external moving parts is in contrast to other systems, such as gas-lift systems that have an entire compression system on the surface; with an ESP, there's only a wellhead and a basic controller, with nothing else that might threaten safety or the environment.

Last but not least, ESPs don't produce any kind of flaring (the combustion of gas that's a byproduct of the oil production process), which is yet another way these kinds of lift systems can help you reduce your facility's carbon footprint.

Low Noise Levels

Noise isn't often enough considered when it comes to sustainability and eco-friendliness, but it's actually a major pollutant in many cases. This is particularly true in the oil and gas industry, where facilities are often located near either residential areas or protected wildlife habitats; in either case, excessive noise can have a major negative impact.

Electric submersible pumps don't produce any kind of significant noise when in operation, which helps to reduce their overall environmental impact. This is in contrast to other kinds of artificial lift systems, such as gas lift, which can be quite loud; with an electric submersible pump, you can avoid disturbing either people or animals near your facility.

In conclusion, electric submersible pumps offer a number of advantages from a sustainability perspective for producers in the oil and gas industry. These include reduced energy requirements, a limited surface footprint, and low noise levels. When compared to other kinds of artificial lift systems, ESPs offer a more sustainable choice for oil and gas producers who are looking to reduce their environmental impact.

For more on this, or to learn about any of our ESP products or other well pump solutions, speak to our team at Extract Production today. 

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