Zilift in world first as company installs, operates and retrieves ESP on live well

ABERDEEN, Scotland — Zilift, a developer of permanent magnet technologies for artificial lift applications, has achieved a world first in the installation, operation and retrieval of a slim-line cable deployed electrical submersible pump (ESP), under live well conditions.

The installation of an ESP, deployable through 3.5-in. tubing, was conducted in a Californian well during November and included full wellhead termination and pump operation.

In many parts of the world, rig costs are the single most significant factor in downhole pumping economics, particularly offshore. Further, rigs are rarely available as an ESP fails, which results in scheduling conflicts between drilling programs and restoring production from the failed ESP well. Often this results in months of deferred production.

In concluding this trial, Zilift demonstrated that rigs are no longer an essential component in ESP operations, thereby saving the rig cost and largely eliminating postponed production. This presents the industry with a game changing opportunity for significant life cycle cost reductions.

Norman Liley, Zilift’s commercial and IP director said: “For operators to regain profitability in this challenging oil price environment, the only route forward is the application of new methods and technology, which can fundamentally reduce the industry’s cost base and the capacity to cable deploy ESP’s offers just that.”

This achievement builds on an earlier trial conducted in Oklahoma, which demonstrated that a slim-line ESP can be deployed through standard pressure control equipment using low cost, widely available deployment equipment. By showing that a combined power and deployment cable, which remains within the production flowpath, can be successfully interfaced with a wellhead using a combined hanger and electrical feed-through, this most recent trial completes the exercise.

The installation was connected to its variable frequency drive and after commissioning, the pump was operated at various speeds confirmed by on-board data acquisition.

Mike Rushby, Zilift’s SpeedDrive business unit manager, said, “Demonstrating, for the first time, that ESP’s can be safely deployed under live well conditions—without the need for a rig at any stage in its deployment is a transformational development for the upstream oil industry.

“Additionally, Zilift successfully re-connected to the deployment cable and retrieved the complete system to surface—all under live well conditions. The significance of these achievements cannot be overstated—the industry has sought this type of solution for decades—it’s the “holy grail” for powered artificial lift systems.”