Experimental investigation on the performance of Electrical Submersible Pump (ESP) operating with unstable water/oil emulsions

by Natan Augusto Vieira Bulgarelli, Jorge Luiz Biazussi, William Monte Verde, Carlos Eduardo Perles, Marcelo Souza de Castro, Antonio Carlos Bannwart, published at Journal of Petroleum Science and Engineering, Volume 197, February 2021, 107900


Electrical Submersible Pump (ESP) is one of the most commonly used artificial lift methods in petroleum production, due to its capacity to operate in several conditions with two or three-phase flows. When the ESP operates with emulsion flow, its performance is degraded, and operational instabilities occur. Therefore, this paper aims to carefully investigate phase inversion and to present, by the first time, the  ffective viscosity of unstable mineral oil/water emulsions, both within the ESP. The first part of this work analyzes the phase inversion phenomenon for two oil types in three viscosities, five ESP rotational speeds, and three mixture flow rates. Logistic functions were fitted using the dimensionless head as a water cut function to determine the phase inversion within the ESP. The continuous phase inversion model, developed for emulsion pipe flow, did not present a satisfactory agreement to flow conditions tested. An indirect method to determine the emulsion effective viscosity within the ESP was proposed, which was obtained from the water/oil emulsion performance curves. The viscous performance data were used to determine the geometric coefficients of a dimensionless head empirical model for the tested ESP. Thus, the calculated values were compared with the effective viscosity obtained with oil and water emulsions, as well as the ESP performance, operating with emulsion and oil, which provides similar values for low rotational speeds. The different behavior of the effective viscosity between the pipeline flow and within the ESP was observed for water-in-oil emulsions and may be related to the high centrifugal field in the ESP.

DOI: 10.1016/j.petrol.2020.107900

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