Application Challenges – Heavy Oil

Artificial Lift for Heavy Oil Wells

Explore a cost-effective artificial lift method that helps increase oil well productivity and system run life.

The technology and methods to produce dense or highly viscous heavy oil and bitumen have advanced significantly over the past twenty years. The choice of production technique and artificial lift method are usually determined according to the viscosity of oil and extent of solids to be moved, and ultimately by economic returns.

Progressing cavity pump (PCP) systems are a proven efficient and economic choice of artificial lift method for the more sand-laden, viscous oil common to the cold production of heavy oil reservoirs. With the increase in horizontal well completions, conventional rod driven PCP systems often struggle from the effects of additional rod and tubing wear.

The Borets PMM-PCP provides all the advantages of PCPs in heavy oil without the risk of rod wear.

Benefits of Borets PMM-PCP System

  • Improved PCP system reliability and run time through:
    • Elimination of rods and rod-wear associated failure
    • Elimination of downhole gear box and associated failure
  • Reduced OPEX through lower power consumption
  • Improved well drawdown in deviated wellbores
  • Reduced wellhead equipment footprint and environmental risk

Steam-Assisted, Gravity Drainage (SAGD)

Withstand high operating temperatures, unstable inflow, and abundant volumes of abrasive sand.

At even lower viscosity values, heavy oil will take the form of bitumen, which in Canada can be mined at surface. Where this bitumen is too deep to economically mine, production is achieved using the SAGD method where superheated steam is injected into the upper of two well pairs to lower the bitumen’s viscosity and allow it to flow. Gravity then allows the bitumen to drain into the lower well where it can be lifted to surface.

Electric submersible pumps (ESPs) are the preferred method of artificial lift for SAGD applications as it has proven to require the lowest steam/oil ratio (SOR) while maximizing production. Installed in the lower well of the pair, SAGD ESPs must be engineered to withstand fluid temperatures in excess of 250°C (482 °F), steam vapor, unstable inflow, and abundant volumes of abrasive sand.

For improved reliability, the Borets SAGD ESP system incorporates multiple design enhancements over previous generation systems including:

  • Fixed-stage compression pumps with locking tungsten carbide (TC) bearing
  • Self-orienting intake design that maximizes steam and gas avoidance
  • Innovative metal bellows motor seal with premium diamond-faced shaft seals
  • Induction motor rated to 300° C (572° F) that incorporates extreme duty locking radial motor bearings and a patented dual seal plug-in MLE