Anderson Delgado, Jorge Espinosa, Gran Tierra; Luis Guanacas,
Gustavo Gonzalez, and Carlos Portilla,
Odessa Separator Inc.
Extending the run life of wells with Electrical Submersible Pumps (ESP) becomes a crucial need since it is one of the most economically expensive types of ALS. Following the need, a sand regulator has been designed to protect the pump during shutdowns, and it has been incorporated into traditional sand control configurations to offer extensive protection above and below the pump. This paper will explain the mechanism of the sand regulator as well as the benefit of installing this system alone above the pump or complemented with a sand control system below the pump. Since the wells had sand problem history and it was necessary to review pump designs, pulling reports, and sensor parameters along with well conditions such as production, tubing size, and particle size distribution were analyzed to build the best design for every single well. In the design, the geometry of the well was assessed to accommodate the cable and CT line downhole. The Acordionero Field is characterized by heavy oil production (400-1000 BFPD), with a viscosity of 430 cP @ 150°F, API between 13-15, low water cuts (Between 3.9% to 20%), and high fine sand production (3000 - 5000 ppm). Cohembí Field wells produce between 1000 - 6000 BFPD, with API between 17-18, high water cuts (> 77%), and a high sand production between 500 - 3000 ppm. The wells selected had other types of sand control and management systems and were highly affected by frequent shutdowns. The Sand Regulator design was installed on 20 wells and was compared with the performance achieved using traditional sand control solutions. After the installation, production has remained stable in all the wells applied, allowing to reduce the PIP of the well from 900 psi to 500 psi. Less current consumption has been observed after each shutdown in all the wells, extending the run life of some wells from 108 days to more than a year. Sensor parameters were analyzed after each pump restart to determine how difficult it was to restart operation after shutdowns. Compared to the tools installed above the ESP, this sand regulator allows flushing operation through it with flow ranges from 0.5 to 5 bpm. In addition, the unconventional design of this tool has opened the door to a new concept of ESP protection that works in wells with light or heavy oil and can be refurbished or inspected completely without cutting the tool.