June 2023
Special Focus: Artificial Lift Advances

Industry’s leading rigless ESP system eliminates costly workovers to improve well economics

Electrical submersible pumping is a proven artificial lift solution for extending production life. However, conventional ESP systems often result in costly workovers and production downtime. By eliminating the need for a rig after initial installation of the permanent completion, operators can reduce costs, carbon footprint and mobilization time, while minimizing deferred oil production.
Lara Zsohar / Baker Hughes

Optimizing ESP installations without a workover rig. The AccessESP retrievable ESP system, from Baker Hughes, offers an efficient alternative to standard ESP installations without the need for a heavy workover rig, Fig. 1. The industry’s first fully rigless ESP system comprises proven technologies with years of failure-free field performance:  

  • A permanent completion assembly installed with the production tubing offers life-of-well flexibility for well clean-up and optimized drawdown.  
  • A retrievable assembly installs through tubing with light-duty slickline units, eliminating heavy interventions with a rig. 
  • A permanent magnetic motor (PMM) delivers up to 1,200 hp in a single-stage body design that is shorter, lighter and more reliable than conventional motors, which are typically stacked in dual or triple configurations to achieve the same power density. 
  • Robust and reliable pumps, seals and power cables arrive at the well site, ready to install for faster deployment.  
Fig. 1. A retrievable ESP system practically eliminates the need for a heavy workover rig. The robust system consists of a permanent completion assembly, a power cable and a retrievable assembly containing the pump and a PMM.
Fig. 1. A retrievable ESP system practically eliminates the need for a heavy workover rig. The robust system consists of a permanent completion assembly, a power cable and a retrievable assembly containing the pump and a PMM.

Cutting costs and emissions while boosting well performance. With a one-time investment, the rigless ESP system makes interventions more efficient and economical over the life of a well. Installing these systems via slickline lowers field OPEX by reducing the time between workovers, compared to conventional rig operations. An installation that might take weeks with a workover rig can now be completed in a matter of days with the rigless system. As a result, wells can be brought online sooner with fewer field personnel—freeing up valuable resources for other field-optimization activities.  

The rigless system can be installed on a live well without the need for kill fluid, which ensures a simple, streamlined operation while delivering additional production uptime. The system is monitored and maintained regularly to avoid downtime and is able to control the workover schedule, versus working with unexpected failures in a rig-deployed ESP system. And with its side pocket mandrel wet-connect system, the rigless ESP system provides fullbore access to the well while protecting the reservoir from damage.  

Rigless deployment via slickline improves field HSE metrics by eliminating emissions from a workover rig while reducing personnel exposure, as fewer people are required for this operation versus a rig operation. And during operation, the PMM delivers reliable power output with far greater efficiency than conventional motors—adding millions of dollars of value over the life of the well while reducing the operator’s carbon footprint in the field.  

Proven performance in the field. The rigless ESP system is improving the efficiency and economics of ESP installations in several remote well applications. Operators are using the system to convert their gas-lifted wells to ESPs for immediate productivity gains and optimized production, as reservoir conditions change.  

The rigless ESP system also improves well clean-outs by removing heavyweight kill fluids from a well in half the time of a coiled tubing-deployed nitrogen lift operation. Well clean-outs using the rigless system are saving operators anywhere from $1 million in offshore deviated and horizontal wells to $3 million in multilateral wells.  

In another industry first, the retrievable ESP system helped an Alaskan operator deliver a frac job through an ESP completion. The frac operation pumped more than 4.5 million pounds of proppant to stimulate 22 stages, without damaging the ESP’s permanent completion assembly. Immediately following the frac job, field crews installed the retrievable assembly, PMM and pump without a separate rig. The streamlined completion schedule brought the well into production one week earlier and saved $2 million in rig costs. As operators look to push ESPs to their technical limits for new field applications, the AccessESP retrievable ESP system is uniquely positioned to deliver ever-greater oilfield efficiency.  

About the Authors
Lara Zsohar
Baker Hughes
Lara Zsohar is global product line manager for artificial lift at Baker Hughes. She is responsible for ESP power cable and rigless ESP deployment. She joined the company in 2008 and has held roles in business development, global operations standards and pressure pumping since 2017. Prior to Baker Hughes, Ms. Zsohar worked in engineering, sales and business development for KBR. She holds a degree in civil engineering from Texas A&M University.
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