The paper reports on developmental research on the effects of viscosity and two phases, liquid–gas fluids on ESPs which are multi stage centrifugal pumps for deep bore holes.

Multiphase viscous performance in a full-scale Electrical Submersible Pump (ESP) system at Shell’s Gasmer facility has been studied experimentally and theoretically. The main objectives is to predict the operational conditions that cause degradations for high viscosity fluids when operating in high Gas Liquid Radio (GLR) wells to support operation in Shell major Projects. The system studied was a 1025 series tandem WJE 1000.

The test was performed using this configuration with ten or more pump stages moving fluids with viscosity from 2 to 200 cP at various speed, intake pressure and Gas Void Fractions (GVF). For safety considerations the injected gas was restricted to nitrogen or air.

The ESP system is a central artificial lift method commonly used for medium to high flow rate wells. Multiphase flow and viscous fluids causes problems in pump applications. Viscous fluids and free gas inside an ESP can cause head degradation and gas locking. Substantial attempts have been made to model centrifugal pump performance under gas-liquid viscous applications, however due to the complexity this is still a uncertain problem. The determination of the two-phase flow performance in these harmful conditions in the ESP is fundamental aspects in the surveillance operation.

The testing at Shell’s Gasmer facility revealed that the ESP system performed as theoretical over the range of single flowrates and light viscosity oils up to Gas Volume Fractions (GVF) around 25%. The developed correlations predict GVF at the pump intake based on the operational parameters. ESP performance degrades at viscosity higher than 100cp as compared to light oil applications, gas lock condition is observed at gas fraction higher than 45%. Pump flowrate can be obtained from electrical current and boost for all range of GVF and speed.

The main technical contributions are the analysis of pump head degradation under two important variables, high viscosity and two-phase flow inside the ESP.

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