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All Metal PCP Experiences in Orinoco Belt

Manuel Arredondo, Robert Morety and Algimar Delgado, Petropiar; David Caballero and Bernardo Ortegano,

Copyright 2014, Society of Petroleum Engineers

This paper was prepared for presentation at the SPE Artificial Lift Conference & Exhibition-North America held in Houston, Texas, USA, 6 8 October 2014.
This paper was selected for presentation by an SPE program committee following review of information contained in an abstract submitted by the author(s). Contents
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consent of the Society of Petroleum Engineers is prohibited. Permission to reproduce in print is restricted to an abstract of not more than 300 words; illustrations may
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In 1997, the commercial development of the large Heavy & Extra Heavy Oil (HO & EHO) resources of
the Orinoco Belt (7 to 12 API/Estimated 297 Bbbl of Recoverable Crude Oil) was initiated. Petropiar (a
JV between Chevron & PDVSA), was one the first project in the area, and until today it is considered as
a reference when it comes to developing the most recently allocated blocks in the area.
After more than 10 years of intensive production programs, some fields are showing signs of depletion
and associated production of gas is increasing. In order to improve oil recovery factor, several operators
in Orinoco Belt are interested in Thermal Enhanced Oil Recovery (TEOR) projects. In thermal projects,
Artificial Lift Systems must be able to operate in cold and hot conditions, reducing workover intervention
and associated production losses. PCM, who is involved in supplying Progressing Cavity Pumps
technologies to the Orinoco belt since the very beginning, has developed the exclusive & patented PCM
VULCAIN (All Metal PCP) technology in order to extend the use of PCP technology on these kind of
projects; where no elastomer PCP can perform.
In 2011, a project was launched in collaboration with Petropiar optimization department in order to
validate PCM Vulcain technology in cold and gassy conditions in this field. 2 80V1000 PCM
VULCAIN pumps were installed in selected wells.
Following the demonstration of the PCM Vulcain ability to maintain a high hydraulic efficiency
under variable conditions of temperature & viscosities (SPE97796) and the subsequent development of the
PCM Vulcain in TEOR (WHOC11-578), this paper presents how the PCM Vulcain technology
adapts to the specific Orinoco Belt environment, and what this technology could bring to further
development of this heavy oil basin in EOR projects.

The Orinoco Oil Belt has approximately 50,000 km2 of the East Venezuela Basin Province that is
underlain by more than 1 trillion barrels of heavy oil-in-place. As part of a program directed at estimating
the technically recoverable oil and gas resources of priority petroleum basins worldwide, the U.S.
Geological Survey estimated the recoverable oil resources of the Orinoco Oil Belt. This estimate relied
mainly on published geologic and engineering data for reservoirs (net oil-saturated sandstone thickness
and extent), petrophysical properties (porosity, water saturation, and formation volume factors), recovery


Figure 1Location of test C4P01 and B6 P09 wells in Ayacucho, Venezuela

Figure 280V1000 performance test, on water at 5 cpo.

factors determined by pilot projects, and estimates of volumes of oil-in-place. The U.S. Geological Survey
estimated a mean volume of 513 billion barrels of technically recoverable heavy oil in the Orinoco Oil.
The Orinoco Oil Belt contains one of the largest recoverable oil accumulations in the world (7 to 12
API/proven oil reserves 297 Bbbl).
The area has been divided in 4 areas for exploration and production purposes named Boyaca
(previously known as Machete), Junin (formerly Zuata), Ayacucho (ex-Hamaca) and Carabobo (Cerro
Huyapar Field produces extra heavy crude oil, located at the Faja del Orinoco southeastern Venezuela.
The field is operated by Petropiar. SA, an association between Petroleos de Venezuela SA (PDVSA.) and
Chevron. Petropiar. SA is one of the four major projects of production and improving heavy crude
currently operating in the Orinoco Oil Belt. Produced reservoir fluids have an API gravity in a range
between 7.5 and 9.5 API, GOR 80 and 2000 SFC/SB, Vertical depth around 850 m and viscosities from
2000 to 4000 cP at reservoir conditions, extraheavy crude has a foamy performance, with great amount
of gas in solution at atmospheric conditions.
After more than 10 years of intensive production programs, a lot of wells are showing signs of
depletion and associated production of gas is increasing. Petropiar field has more than 400 wells operating
only with PCPs artificial lift technology. Current production is more than 130,000bopd.
Since the start of production of the field-Petropiar Huyapar by PDVSA in 2001, the artificial lift
method which is being used for oil extraction is progressing cavity Pump (PCP). Over the years there have
been used various models of elastomer progressive cavity pumps.


Figure 3C4 P01 operating conditions

Petropiar has been operating under a production scheme based on natural depletion also referred to as
cold production. The associated recovery factor for the current cold production technology (using
progressive cavity pumps - PCP) has been calculated around 8%; leading the company to look for new
technologies and the implementation of new projects, in an aim to increase the amount of crude oil that
can be extracted. Therefore, Petropiar launched a steam injection project in 2010 in order to access to this
field oil reserves.
The following typical steam recovery processes were considered:
CSS (Cyclic Steam Stimulation)
By definition, the cyclic steam stimulation generates very cyclic pumping conditions. A typical cyclic
process starts with very high steam injection temperature, up to 315C. This fluid temperature may drop
along time until 100C or less. Pump sees therefore from low (below 1 cpo) to high viscosity with wide
variations of pressure. A safety challenge is to install the system before injecting steam and to keep the
well secured throughout the soaking and production periods.
SAGD (Steam assisted gravity drainage)
The SAGD process is often applied on shallow (500 m TMD) and deviated wells with horizontal
section. The amount of energy to inject steamed water is huge. It is important to control oil water emulsion
during pumping with a low shear design pumping system. As for CSS, it is also appropriate to steam
through the pump for SAGD as the steam injection can occur in both injector and producer well at starting
period. Another challenge for the operator is to control the sub-cool which is the key point to maximize
the oil recovery and to avoid any steam breakthrough. The pump must be able to work at very low
submergence; it is possible to use this pump technology in LP (Low Pressure) SAGD for very shallow
Line drive production/Steam Flooding
This steam recovery technique consists of one steam injection well for several oilwell producers smartly
located on the field. It is also subject to transient states leading to temperature and water cut changes
affecting the viscosity in short time period (e.g. steam injection downtime) during the well life. Unlike
CSS, the production may see cold production for a period of time, followed by high flow rate requirements
when steam front increases oil well producers productivity. Such transient period can highly impact the
viscosity and thus the performance of the artificial lift leading to breakdown or very poor performances
requiring artificial lift change with associated work over costs. The pump must be able to cover a wide


Figure 4 simulation report PCM Design

range of viscosity and must cover a significant range of flow rate to meet well inflow performances
changes. The aim is to avoid to switch from one artificial lift to another in a relative short period of time.
High temperature package characteristics
The completion of a well equipped with the high temperature PCM Vulcain package is very similar to
conventional downhole elastomer progressive cavity pump (PCPs) for cold production. The key differences are:

The all metal rotor and stator, able to withstand a broad range of static and dynamic temperatures
and viscosities (up to 350C, 660F),
The high temperature sealing system at surface,
Wellheads designed for high temperature applications, including polished rod blow out preventer,
and blind rams for work-overs.
Expansion coefficient makes it impossible to run the same pump over a wide range of temperature,
Mechanical properties of traditional elastomers tend to break down over 150C. By the mid 80s
thermal recovery of the Alberta oil sands gained popularity. Elevated temperature and pressures
were beyond the operating limit of conventional elastomer PCPs.


Figure 5Project profit analysis

Figure 6 80V1000 performance test, on water at 5 cpo.

All metal progressing cavity pump

The patented PCM Vulcain all metal progressing cavity pump, consists of a helical rotor, and a metal
stator made up of multiple hydroformed elements. Apart from the innovative manufacturing process of the
stator, the core characteristics of the metal pump are:

The thermal expansion coefficient of the stator is equal to the rotors so that the pump characteristics remain consistent over a wide temperature range (40 to 350C),
The alloys used for rotor and stator are corrosion resistant to H2S, CO2, and aromatics which can
be troublesome for conventional elastomer PCPs,
Additionally, the metal pump has proven resistant to external chemical stimulations. Although the
PCM Vulcain does not have the same interference fit between the rotor and stator as an
elastomer PCP, the efficiency is still adequate as the fit can be precisely adjusted using the
patented hydroforming process used for manufacturing. The PCM Vulcains are tested with
water to ensure volumetric efficiency, friction and dynamic torque are all within specification.

Petropiar Case Study:

This study is based on the technology trial performed on C4P01 and B6P09 wells drilled in the Petropiar
reservoir (Ayacucho area) to evaluate the performance of the BCP Metal-Metal technology in cold and
gassy conditions and to preparation for EOR (Enhanced Oil Recovery) in Huyapar Field:


Figure 7Second well selection

Figure 8 B6-P09 operating conditions

Evaluate pump volumetric efficiency

PCM Vulcain Run life in different conditions.
Identify operational problems and failure modes.
Define applications.
Evaluate PCM Vulcain profitability in cold and EOR conditions.

Selected PCM Vulcain (All metal PCP) for these wells was 80V1000:

80 meaning the nominal flow in m3/d at 100 rpm and zero head.
V meaning PCM Vulcain
1000 meaning the nominal head capability in meters of water.


Figure 9 simulation report PCM Design

Reservoir Features
Field Huyapar present sands consist of a stacked channel sequence, deposited on an upper delta plain, the
site presents a mechanism of production mainly by Gas Expansion Solution with extra-heavy crude
deposits sparkling shallow unconsolidated sand, some features are the following:

Depth of field: 2300 - 3100 feet TVD

Net oil sand thickness: 20 to 80 Feet
Reservoir pressure: 600 - 1000 psi
Flowing bottom hole pressure: 260 to 500 Psi
Reservoir temperature: 116 - 125F
Oil viscosity: 2000 - 4000 cP at reservoir temperature
Oil API gravity: 7.5 - 9.5
Gas-oil ratio 80 - 2000 SFC/SB
Sand content: traces (2%).


Well Architecture
The typical oil well completion at the Huyapar Field consists of horizontal wells with surface casing
13-3/8 to 700=, then intermediate casing 9-5/8 settled at 3,600= and slotted liner 7 settled at 700010000=, these values are averages and MD depth. The production tubing is typically 5.5 and the outer
diameter of the PCP is 3-1/2 to 65/8 oil production ranges from 50 to 2000 SBD and lifting between
1000 to 1800 mts.

Well C4 P01
The pump model used at C4P01 is the 80V1000 (80m3/day at 100 rpm @ 0 Head, V meaning PCM
Vulcain, and 1000 m lift capability of water column) - see pump performance test in Figure 2 below:
Bench tested with water (5 cP), the new pump performed @ 70% volumetric efficiency at 300 rpm and
full head.
Date of installation
Date of last stop
Reason for pulling out:

No production.

Date of pulling out:

Producing days:


During 100 days, the pump was subjected to severe operating conditions in the well. You find here after
operating conditions:
Here afte you will find the operation synthesis:

Main Criteria
Over pressure
Dry running suspected



Pump head: 50 to 100bars depending of gas lift effect
350 rpm during more than 50 days
BHP: 530psi mini
Very high GVF at pumps suction 60 % or more (see figure 4 below simulation report PCM Design)


Stator destructive analysis confirms that there is no visible hole or missing material on the internal profile,
even though cracks are observed on each stator element. The radial grooves on the profile and the splinters
of chrome on the rotor are the consequence of a foreign element which has been pumped. The presence
of this foreign element is further evidenced by the noticeable bumps and torn material on the internal
profile. The foreign element combined with rotor rotation lead to the destruction of rotor and stator
functional clearance. Such a conclusion explains the sudden loss of production/sudden failure that
occurred, while recorded parameters prior to failure did not show any sign of upcoming problems (stable
readings). The cracks as they appear would not be responsible for the sudden loss of production. Would
they be the only visible damage, the pump would have showed a gradual loss of efficiency until complete
destruction of the profile. The origin of the cracks on the profile however cannot be clearly defined. It
could either come from the foreign element which created stress in the profile as it was being pumped,
or it could come from the combined effect of high operating speed/high GVF leading to accelerated
fatigue of the profile.


Figure 10 Project profit analysis

For next installation we decide to reduce the size of the perforation on perforated tubing or use of
slotted liner to limit exposure to large particles. Also we decide to limit the pump operating speed to the
maximum recommended speed of 300rpm.
The project was paid in 1.8 months then this project profit was $128.9 M (See figure here after)

Case study - Well B6P09

The pump model used at B6P09 is the 80V1000, see pump performance test in Figure below:
Bench tested with water (5 cP), the new pump performed @ 57% volumetric efficiency at 300 rpm.
In the second installation we find to improve PCM Vulcain run life. Here after the selection
parameters for this well:
Date of installation:
Reason for pulling out:

No production.

Date of pulling out:

Producing days:


During 581 days, the pump operated at stable conditions in the well.
Here after we could observe B6 P09 operations conditions:
The submergence was high to improve the efficiency and reduce the GVF, but the efficiency has
decreased. Even with better submergence the estimated GVF was very high (around 60%). Here after the
summary of 01-06-2012 simulation with PCM Design software:


Stator destructive analysis confirms that there is no visible hole or missing material on the internal profile.
The wear of the rotor and stator makes the interference increases considerably. Thus, the volumetric
efficiency decreases until the final stop pumping.
The project was paid in 6 months then this project profit was $190 M (See figure here after)

It is important to test new technologies in different wells in order to analyze different scenarios of
production. The first PCM VULCAIN installed in Huyupari run life was 100 days. In the second
well the run life was improved considerably (581 days).
Client/Supplier collaboration is a key point:
Accurate field data are essential (use of downhole sensors)



Confidence is essential.
Information/ideas exchange are needed
The PCM VULCAIN has operated in cold and gassy conditions with profitable run life in
Huyupari field.
We have optimize operation data to improve PCM VULCAIN run life with very high GVF (Gas
Void Fraction) around 60%.
High temperature down hole guage should be installed to monitoring pump parameter (temperature,
pression and vibration) and make pump optimization on time, in order to preven pump fail and
increase run life.
This technology is validated for future EOR in this field, allowing to progressive cavity pump
technology to produce at high temperature.
PCM VULCAIN (all metal PCP) is offering a new option when the conventional PCP reaches
its limits.

status of a Metal Progressing Cavity Pump for heavy oil and hot production wells, a SPE 97796
paper presented at the 2005 SPE International Thermal Operations and Heavy Oil Symposium
held in Calgary, Alberta, 1-3 November 2005
2. Succesful Application of Metal PCP Rechnology to Maximize Oil Recovery in SAGD Process
R. Arystanbay, SPE, W. Bae, SPE, Huy X. Nguyen, SPE, Sejong University; S. Ryou, SPE, Wee,
T. Jang, SPE, Korean National Oil Corporation Caspian Branch. PE Heavy Oil Conference and
Exhibition, 12-14 December 2011, Kuwait City, Kuwait.
3. Application of Advanced Heavy-Oil-Production Technologies in the Orinoco Heavy-Oil-Belt,
Venezuela, Jorge Robles, Petrozuata, C.A. SPE International Thermal Operations and Heavy Oil
Symposium, 12-14 March 2001, Porlamar, Margarita Island, Venezuela.