The need for a robust pumping system capable of operating in the challenging conditions presented in geothermal production wells has been identified as a critical piece of equipment for the advancement of geothermal energy utilization. In typical geothermal operations, establishing and maintaining a high production rate at high temperatures is critical to the economic viability of the project. Electrical Submersible Pumps (ESPs) have significant advantages over other commonly used pumping systems in geothermal operations, and have the potential to enhance the production of geothermal wells.
ESP systems are currently available that are capable of handling high operating temperatures;however, these systems are limited in their power output, reliability, and production rate. Conversely, higher power ESP systems are available; although, their allowable operating temperatures are significantly lower than their high temperature counterparts. There appears to be a technology gap marrying high operating temperatures with high power outputs that limits the value of ESPs in the geothermal industry. The design of an ESP system capable of meeting these requirements may be a significant market opportunity, and may spur the advancement of geothermal energy utilization. Many of the challenges posed by the high temperature conditions experienced in a geothermal production well have also been faced by ESP manufacturers designing systems for thermal Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR).
This paper summarizes the current state of available high temperature ESPs, the typical artificial lift requirements for geothermal operations, and the ideal economic and technical parameters of ESP systems for use in geothermal operations. Using this information, existing gaps in ESP capabilities for widespread adaption to the geothermal industry have also been highlighted.
Author: Curkan, B., Klaczek, W., Reede, C.
Year Published: 2018
Publisher: Geothermal Research Council
Purchase Link: GRC Geothermal Library