Explanation of Why ESPs Are Important

I. Introduction

When the well's reservoir pressure is so low that it can no longer naturally elevate fluid to the surface, artificial lift is utilized. When this happens, a choice must be made on the type of artificial lift that will be most useful in the application, taking into account the well's features, the fluid's qualities, and economic considerations. Gas lift, rod pumps, hydraulic lift, and plunger lift are a few examples of popular artificial lift. But ESPs have become more well-liked recently because of their capacity for handling large volumes of fluid, their wide operating range, and their capacity for meeting high lift demands for deep well applications.

Brief Explanation of What an ESP Is

A pump, seal section, motor, and power cable make up the ESP, which are attached to the end of the production tube and lowered into the well. High-speed rotation of the pump creates pressure in each stage, which consists of an impeller and diffuser set, to produce the necessary lift to raise the fluid to the surface. ESPs are frequently utilized in high-volume fluid applications such as onshore and offshore oil and gas production, surface fluid transfer, and municipal water wells.

Explanation of Why ESPs Are Important

Due to its ability to efficiently produce high volumes of fluid, ESPs are significant and frequently used in applications requiring large amounts of fluid. Compared to other artificial lift methods, they have a wider working range, making them appropriate for a variety of well conditions. Other types of artificial lift cannot meet the high lift requirements for deep well applications that can be met by ESPs. Additionally, ESPs are adaptable and can be used in a variety of industries, including municipal water wells, liquid waste disposal, and various onshore and offshore oil and gas well production applications.

II. What Is an ESP?

Definition and Explanation of What an ESP Is

A multistage centrifugal pump, powered by an electric motor rotating at a high rate of speed to generate enough centrifugal force to develop pressure throughout each stage in the pump is known as an ESP. ESPs are built to be submersible, which allows them to be positioned inside of a well bore and function below the surface of the water. When natural lift is no longer sufficient, they are utilized to raise fluids from the reservoir to the surface. The fluid is forced up the tube to the surface by the pressure produced by the pump's fast revolution.

Parts and Components of an ESP

i. A pump, seal section, motor, and power cable make up the four main parts of an ESP’s downhole system. The pump, a multistage centrifugal pump, consists of impellers and diffusers sets with an intake at the base end.The seal section, below the pump's intake a seal section is attached, this component protects the motor from the down-thrust load of the pump above it, as well as seals out well bore fluid, equalizes pressure inside the system, and acts as an internal reservoir for the ESP's internal oil to expand after heating up. Finally, attached to the base of the seal section is the motor which rotates at a high rate of speed. It is here that the power cable is plugged into the motor which transfers power from surface to the motor, which in turn supplies the energy needed to turn the pump.

ii. The production tubing's end has the downhole components linked to it before being lowered into the well. The production tubing, which is typically composed of steel, acts as a conduit to transport the pumped fluid to the surface. Metal bands are used to secure the cable to the production tubing when it is run to the surface and linked to a power source. The power source that supplies electricity to the ESP is usually three-phase line power, and sometimes supplied by a generator. A motor controller, like a switchboard or a variable speed drive (VSD) is commonly used to send power through the cable downhole to the motor.  A switchboard can only turn the system on and off, whereas a VSD can regulate the motor's speed, which is crucial for maximizing the pump's efficiency.

How an ESP works

i. An ESP works by using a centrifugal pump driven by an electric motor to lift fluids from the reservoir to the surface. The pump rotates at a high rate of speed, generating centrifugal force that builds pressure throughout each stage of the pump. As the fluid moves through each stage, the pressure increases, causing it to move up the tubing to the surface. The motor provides the energy to drive the pump, and the power cable supplies the electrical power to the motor. The speed of the motor is controlled by the VSD or switchboard, which allows the pump to operate at the optimal speed for the well conditions. The pump is situated below the water line in the well bore since it is submersible in design.

III. Why Are ESPs Important?

Benefits of Using an ESP

The capacity of an ESP to efficiently transfer large amounts of fluid is one of its main advantages. ESPs are perfect for deep well applications when the natural lift is insufficient since they can manage huge fluid volumes and lift needs. High volume fluid applications require a higher flow rate and pressure, which the pump's produced centrifugal force enables. In comparison to other artificial lift technologies, ESPs also have a wider operating range, making them appropriate for a variety of well conditions.

Applications of ESPs

Municipal water wells, surface fluid transfer, and various onshore and offshore oil and gas well production applications are just a few of the uses for ESPs. ESPs are very helpful in big volume fluid applications when other artificial lift techniques might not be enough. They are frequently employed in oil and gas well production applications because of their versatility in handling a variety of fluids and operating circumstances, including high temperature and high pressure. To give communities a dependable source of water, ESPs are also employed in municipal water wells. To transport fluids from one place to another, they are also utilized in surface fluid transfer applications.

Examples of Industries That Use ESPs

Water wells, municipal water delivery systems, oil and gas production, and other businesses all employ ESPs. Both onshore and offshore applications in the oil and gas sector employ ESPs to raise fluids from the reservoir to the surface. They are frequently utilized in wells that have huge fluid volumes. ESPs are employed in the water well sector to give towns, farms, and commercial establishments a dependable source of water. ESPs are also used by municipal water supply systems to pump water to treatment facilities and distribution networks. When fluids need to be transported from one place to another, such as in the mining and construction sectors, ESPs are also employed in surface fluid transfer applications in the oil and gas sector like water disposal and injection.

IV. Types of ESPs

Overview of Different Types of ESPs

Radial flow vaned stages or mixed flow vaned stages are used in the majority of ESPs, which are two-pole induction motor systems. The impellers and diffusers are built of various metals, and for less demanding situations, such household water wells, the impellers and diffusers are built of certain types of plastic stages. The pump's stage type is determined by the well's flow rate and fluid properties. For lower fluid rate production (<1000 barrels per day), radial flow staged pumps are commonly utilized, whereas mixed flow staged pumps are normally used for higher fluid rate production (>1000 barrels per day). The particular needs of the well and the application determine the sort of ESP that should be used.

Comparison of the Advantages and Disadvantages of Each Type

Radial Flow Staged Pumps:

Pumps with radial flow stages  are made for output at lower fluid rates. They have a multistage design that is more effective at creating greater pressures and offers a higher head per stage. Radial flow staged pumps provide the benefits of improved efficiency, reduced cost, and greater dependability at lower flow rates. Radial flow staged pumps have limitations on their operating range and are less adaptable to changing well conditions, solids handling, and gas handling.

Mixed Flow Staged Pumps:

Pumps with mixed flow stages are made for high fluid rate output. They are more effective at creating higher flow rates because of the larger vane opening and geometry of the stage, which offers more volume per stage. Mixed flow staged pumps have a variety of operational options, are highly adaptable to shifting well conditions, and can manage larger gas volumes.

The particular needs of the well and the application determine which ESP type should be used. For wells with lower fluid rates, radial flow staged pumps are preferable; for wells with greater fluid rates, higher gas rates, and potential for solids, mixed flow staged pumps are favored.

V. ESP Design Considerations

Factors to Consider When Designing an ESP System

Casing Size:

The size of the casing dictates the dimensions of the production tubing and the available ESP. The production tube and the ESP system must fit inside the casing's dimensions.

Tubing Size:

The tubing size must be sufficient to handle the well's flow rate, and will play a role in determining how many stages will be needed in the pump to lift fluid to surface due to the amount of friction loss throughout the tubing string as the fluid moves up it.

Perforation Depth:

The position of the ESP in the well bore is often determined by the perforation depth. To maximize the ESP's performance, it must be put at the proper depth, or if it is planned to set below the perforations or in the perforations, special considerations must be made to the design.

Desired Pump Setting Depth:

The position of the ESP in the well bore is determined by the perforation depth and or the well bore's geometry. To maximize the ESP's performance and ensure a good run-life, it must be put at the proper depth.

Desired Production Rate:

The size and kind of ESP that can be employed are based on the intended production rate. The well's flow rate as well as the necessary lift must be handled by the ESP.

Desired Intake Pressure / Fluid Level:

The fluid level and desired intake pressure help define how many stages will be needed to lift the fluid to surface. To guarantee that the intake pressure and fluid level are ideal for its operation, the ESP must be positioned at the proper depth.

Free Gas Amount at the Intake:

The sort of ESP that can be employed depends on the quantity of free gas available at the intake. The amount of free gas at the intake must be within the ESP's design constraints since ESPs can only handle a specific amount of gas.

Incoming Power:

The size and kind of ESP, as well as the size of surface controller, that may be employed are determined by the incoming power. For theESP to function securely and effectively, the incoming power source must be sufficient.

Known Corrosives:

To guarantee a long service life, ESPs must be constructed from the proper corrosion-resistant materials.

Known Solids:

The kind of ESP that may be employed depends on the solids that are known to be present in the well bore. To help mitigate sand erosional wear inside the pump’s stages, certain trim options and metallurgies can be selected, as well as other ancillary items that filter out sand from the fluid or divert sand out of the tubing after it has been produced through the pump.

These factors must be taken into account to guarantee that the ESP system operates safely, effectively, and at the required production rates.

Common Challenges and Issues with ESPs and How to Overcome Them

Operational issues are frequently prevalent with ESPs. Pump off, which happens when the intake pressure is decreased below the pump’s intake setting depth and causes the pump to cavitate, is one of the most prevalent problems. Pump off may result in the motor overheating and early failure. Sand, scale, paraffin, and other particles that can collect inside and around the pump and motor and limit their lifespan and efficiency are additional operating issues.

Knowing how much fluid you are generating and where the pump is working in reference to its performance curve are the greatest ways to guarantee a long operational life for an ESP. Always be aware of the fluid level in relation to the pump setting and try to minimize the number of starts and stops. The most common cause of ESP death is heat. Regular optimization of the system is also essential, this includes analyzing the system's operation from fluid production rates to the power being applied to the motor and adjusting to the performance curve of the system. To guarantee safe and effective functioning, people who operate and maintain ESP systems must have the proper training.

VI. Maintenance and Troubleshooting of ESPs

Tips for Maintaining and Troubleshooting ESPs

Know your flow rate: In order to make sure that the ESP is working within the boundaries of its design, it is crucial to measure and monitor the well's flow rate. Any variations from the anticipated flow rate should be looked into after routine flow rate checks.

Know where your fluid level is at all times: In order to avoid pump failure and motor overheating, it's crucial to keep an eye on the fluid level in the well. Regular fluid level checks or monitoring intake pressure with a downhole sensor should be performed, and any variations from the anticipated level should be looked into.

Reduce the number of starts and stops: An ESP's motor is put under stress when it is started and stopped, among other components, which can cause an early failure. To guarantee that the ESP system has a long service life, it is crucial to reduce the frequency of starts and stops.

To guarantee the ESP system operates safely and effectively, routine optimization and monitoring are also necessary. Any variations from the system's anticipated performance should be looked into and, if necessary, remedial action should be performed. 

Common Problems and Solutions

Operational issues with ESPs are frequently encountered. For instance, the motor may be harmed if the device is attempted to be started while it is backspinning. A backspin timer or probe that notifies you when the device is backspinning will solve this problem quickly and easily. In some programs, after a shutdown event, you simply cannot restart the system for a predetermined period of time.

Pump off, which happens when the intake pressure falls below the pump’s intake setting depth and causes the pump to cavitate, is another frequent issue. Pump off may result in the motor overheating and early failure. Monitoring the fluid level in the well and making any required adjustments to the pump's ability to move fluid, either by adjusting the frequency/speed of the motor or with back pressure, to bring the ESP back into its performance curve will prevent pump off.

Another issue is the motor overheating, especially in wells with high temperatures or high gas-to-liquid ratios. It's crucial to routinely check the motor's temperature and take appropriate action as needed, such as adjusting the RPM of the motor, setting up shutdown faults, or modifying the pump setting depth, to prevent motor overheating.

To prevent these issues and guarantee safe and effective functioning, the ESP system requires regular maintenance and monitoring. It's also crucial to have a backup plan in place for handling unforeseen issues.

VII. Future of ESPs

Overview of Recent Advancements in ESP Technology

The use of tungsten carbide bushings in abrasion-resistant pump design is one technical development in ESPs. This lowers the down thrust stress on the seal bearing and enables extended operating ranges at the low end of a pump's performance curve, as well as adds axial and radial support throughout the pump to help mitigate excessive erosional wear throughout the pump.

The creation of sophisticated gas handling pumps to help handle larger volumes of free gas in high gas-liquid ratio (GLR) applications is another recent development.

The creation of Permanent Magnet Motors (PMMs) that can run at extremely high speeds (up to 10,000 RPM), such as the SPEEDFREQ motor provided by Extract, is a third recent breakthrough.

The effectiveness and dependability of ESP systems are being enhanced by these technical developments in ESP technology, which also makes it possible for them to be deployed in increasingly demanding applications. ESPs are anticipated to become even more adaptable and dependable as technology develops, elevating their significance as a tool for oil and gas production.

Potential Future Developments in the Industry

The management of gas is one area where ESP technology has the potential to advance. For ESPs, high gas-liquid ratio (GLR) wells are a challenge, and current solutions are frequently costly and complicated to execute. A significant advance in technology would be the capacity to manage high gas content while preserving the ESP system's effectiveness and dependability.

Autonomous well control using AI is another promising avenue for growth. This would include monitoring and managing the ESP system using artificial intelligence, gradually improving its effectiveness. The dependability of ESP systems might be increased, and the requirement for human intervention could be significantly reduced.

The technology required to extract and generate these priceless resources will advance with the oil and gas sector. This evolution is likely to be significantly influenced by developments in ESP technology, and there is a great deal of room for additional advancements and discoveries.

VIII. Conclusion

Recap of Key Points

The significance of Electrical Submersible Pumps (ESPs) in the oil and gas sector and its numerous advantages, including their capacity to effectively transfer large quantities of fluid, have been covered in this article. We have also covered the many ESP types, their benefits, and limitations, including radial flow staged pumps and mixed flow staged pumps.

Aspects including casing size, tubing size, and desired output rate were considered as design concerns. We talked about typical problems and difficulties with ESPs as well as maintenance and optimization advice.

Finally, we examined new developments in ESP technology, such as permanent magnet motors (PMMs), sophisticated gas handling pumps, and abrasion-resistant pump trim. We also spoke about anticipated future changes in the sector, such autonomous well control with AI that learns.

Overall, ESPs are a critical instrument for the oil and gas industry, and effective and sustainable extraction of these priceless resources will depend on their continuing growth and improvement.

Final Thoughts on the Importance and Benefits of ESPs

In order to produce valuable resources efficiently and reliably, the oil and gas sector depends heavily on electrical submersible pumps (ESPs). They are perfect for deep hole applications because of their wide operating range and ability to lift large quantities of fluid effectively.

As we've seen, ESPs are intricate systems with a variety of parts and design factors. Technology improvements are assisting in enhancing the reliability and effectiveness of ESP systems. Regular optimization and monitoring are necessary to maintain reliable and effective functioning.

Looking ahead, it is certain that ESPs will continue to play a significant role in the oil and gas sector, and as technology develops, so too will their importance and advantages. The future of ESPs is promising, and they will continue to be an important instrument for the effective and sustainable production of oil and gas for many years to come, whether it is due to developments in gas handling technology or the creation of autonomous well control systems.

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