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Finding a reliable artificial lift pumping system for heavy oil thermal recovery has been a challenge because of the high operating temperatures (>150°C or 302°F). Rod pumps, Electrical Submersible Pumps (ESP) and elastomer Progressive Cavity Pumps (PCP) have limits for thermal production. Through research by PCM and Total, a patented high-temperature, elastomer-free PCP system, the PCM Vulcain, has been developed to meet the thermal recovery challenge. This article presents results of the first Steam Assisted Gravity Drainage (SAGD) field trial of this system performed in Joslyn Field, Canada.
Recovery of extra heavy oil in Canadian and Venezuelan oil sands by thermal processes has been on the increase thanks to high oil prices. The main challenge with hot pumping is the high temperatures-up to 260°C (500°F) for SAGD and 350°C (662°F) for Cyclic Steam Stimulation (CSS). Artificial lift is required due to the crude’s high density, thick viscosity and low reservoir pressures.
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