• Review and case study of electric submersible pump performance with dispersions

      Ellexson, Dexter Bryant; Awoleke, Obadare; Ning, Samson; Dandekar, Abhijit (2020-12)
      Centrifugal pump performance is very sensitive to fluid viscosity, gas fraction, and flow pattern in impeller channels. Viscous oil reduces the head and rate capacity of the pump. High gas fraction reduces the head capacity of the pump at high rates and leads to unstable surging at low rates. If the flow pattern in the impeller transitions to an elongated bubble the pump can gas-lock causing loss of production and excessive heat buildup. The complex geometry and 3-dimensional flow in a pump stage make the analysis of flow in a pump difficult without simplifying assumptions. Empirical and mechanistic models have been developed for correcting pump performance for viscosity, gas fraction, and predicting flow pattern within the impeller with reasonable accuracy. Difficulties arise when produced fluids form stable dispersions. Foams, emulsions, and solid suspensions make the determination of viscosity, gas separation efficiency, and flow pattern more difficult. Interfacial properties between phases become important in determining the bulk fluid properties, and the presence of surfactants exacerbates the interfacial effects. The objective of this project is to describe the fundamentals of electrical submersible centrifugal pumps, ESPs, and the effects that produced fluids have on their performance. These findings are then used to evaluate a case study of an ESP installed in a well with foamy and viscous crude. The ESP exhibits reduced head and rate compared to predicted viscous and gas corrections. Including interfacial effects on the fluid viscosity allow a satisfactory performance match of pump performance to be achieved. The effect of foam on pump performance can be attributed to the increased viscosity exhibited when gas behaves as a dispersed phase in a continuous oil phase rather than a separate phase in a mixture.