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Introduction Artificial lift refers to a method that are used in hydrocarbon wells to increase the production rate which is more that the rate that could be obtained by natural flow through the utilization of the reservoir pressure alone. Besides that, artificial lift is also can be used when the natural drive is not strong enough to push the hydrocarbon to the surface and are not considered economic. This systems are designed to provide the energy to move the fluids from the bottom of the well to the surface at a desired rate and delivery pressure. This energy support the flowing pressure available at the bottom of the well that depends on the productivity of the reservoir. Basically, artificial lift can be categorize into two main group which are pumping systems and gas lifts. Both has its own purpose and advantages. Most oil fields require some type of artificial lift at some point in time. When the gas in reservoir is depleting, gas lift may be a viable lift method because it can be relatively low-cost well interventions. However, when a gas lift system in inadequate, too expensive, or impossible to use, the artificial lift using pumping method can be its alternative way. Before shows type of artificial lift and its system efficiency.

Type Gas Lift Foam Lift Plunger Rod Lift Progressive Cavity Pump (PCP) Electric Submersible Pumping (ESP) Hydraulic Jet Hydraulic Piston

System Efficiency 10% -30% N/A N/A 45% 60% 50% 75% 35% 60% 10% 30% 45% 55%

Source: Weatherford - Introduction to Artificial lift System. Refer to appendix for more detail. For this report, we will focus more on progressive cavity pump. According to Weatherford (2013), rotating-rod-driven Progressive cavity pumps (PCP) were developed in 1980s for oilfield

application. PCPs commonly used for viscous oil, horizontal wells and also for sand production condition. PCPs usually been used for cold heavy-oil production because of their adaptability to viscous and abrasive fluids. However, for thermal recovery, a standard PCP is not compatible because the elastomer of the stator, which is the major components of the pump cannot withstand fluid temperatures higher than 160C. Figure 1.1 below, shows the components of Progressive cavity pump.

Figure 1.1 Progressive Cavity Pump [Source: Netzsch NEMO Pump Components]

The main components of this pump are stators, rotors and drive shaft. The pump consists of a single helical which rotates inside a double helical elastomeric gear of the same minor diameter and twice the pitch length which known as stator. The rotor rotates eccentrically inside the stator, as it rotate it form a series of sealed cavity 180 degrees apart which progress from the suction to the discharge ends of the pump. As one cavity diminishes another is created at the same rate due to a constant non-pulsating flow. The total cross-sectional area of cavities remains the same regardless of the position of the rotor in the stator. Compared to other methods of artifical lift in similar applications, the PCPs is normally the more efficient means of aritifical lift. It has low initial investment, easy to install and minimal maintenance. PCP kinematics has provide major advantages for downhole pumping because its provides continuous high-volume axial, can tolerates with very low inlet pressure as a vacuum pump, has ability to compress gas as long as the seal between stator and rotor is maintained and rotating with low-torque.

Chapter 2

Operational Principle of PCPs

2.1 Operational principle of Progressive Cavity Pump (PCP) Progressive cavity pump is a type of positive displacement pump which transfer fluid by trapping a fluid and discharging it a fairly constant volume. In general a progressive cavity pump (PCP) works by transferring fluid that is trapped tight inside its cavity trough movement of the rotor, the movement of the rotor force the fluid to move in a positive direction. Since the fluid that was pumped does not changes its size and shape because of the tightly sealed cavities between the stator and the rotor, this cause the oil to be transferred at a constant and predictable volume. Due to this operational characteristic is why Progressive cavity pump (PCP) are suitable for a high viscous oil. In detail the operation of progressive cavity pump (PCP) depends on the rotor movement. As the rotor started to rotate it will seals securely against the rubber stator which will result to a set of fixed volume of cavities in between the rotor and the stator to form. As the rotor started to

Figure 2.1 Show a cross sectional look of a rotor and a stator

rotate again, the cavities moved which in turn will forces to the fluid to progressively being displace. According to moineauss rule, a contact between the stator and rotor must occur to ensure the pump operation successfulness. Traditional progressive cavity pump (PCP) usually operates with zero clearance (when the stator and elastomer are in contact without any space). A zero clearance between the rotor and stator ensure no internal slips and leakage. But since there is contact between the stator and rotor, this means that there is friction, and since there is friction it can limit the life of the pump. According to Gamboa et al (as cited in Vector and Wirth, 1995), a contact between the stator and the rotor are not necessary to ensure fluid movement. This means that better material such as steel and alloy can be used as the rotor without damaging the stator.

2.2 Factors affecting the operation of progressive cavity pump When discussing the operation principle of progressive cavity pump (PCP), it is important to know factors that can affect the operation of the pump. The operation of the progressive cavity pump can be disrupted due to some problems caused by the rotor and stator. 2.2.1 Rotor Operation Failure Abrasive wear This problem occur because the chrome plating on the rotor are worn. The worn on the chrome plating can cause the original profile of the rotor to change. This changes can greatly affect the performance of the pump since the interference fit between the stator and the rotor have been changed which in turn will change the cavity profile hence affecting the flow. For cases for some serious abrasive wear where the chrome plating has worn down revealing the base metal underneath it, a permanent damage to the elastomer might occur. Acid attack This type of problem occurs when the crude oil pH dropped down below six (6). In definition acidic crude oil are crude oil that possessed a considerable amount of naphthenic acids or other acid. These acidic crude oil can strip down the plating element on the rotor. The rough surface rotor can damaged the elastomer which in turn affect the flow and pressure. Fatigue Failure When the material undergoes cyclic stress it can cause the fatigue failure to the rotor. A fatigue failure is like a rolling snowball, it started with a small crack which will grow due to exposure of cyclic stress. Since the movement of the rotor is in an eccentric motion any inappropriate Installation of the rotor can cause an extra load at some part of the rotor when turning which in turn will increase the cyclic stress. Fatigue failure may also be caused by any reduction in the cross-sectional area of the rotor due to damage to the rotor surface. The reduction in surface area may increase the load at that specific point and cause an extra load. Pitting Corrosion Pitting corrosion occurs when the acidic fluid starting to attack the base metal of the rotor. This only happened when the chrome plating of the rotor have been worn out

2.2.2 Stator Operation Failure Run Dry When there is less fluid that is pumped through the pump, it will cause the elastomer to run dry which will cause the elastomer to be hard and brittle Hysteresis Hysteresis is caused when the elastomer are facing overpressure. When the elastomer is facing overpressure it can affect the flow of the fluid. When less fluid flow it can cause the elastomer to run dry and cause overheat issues which will damaged the elastomer and in time will cause pump failure Gas Permeation Gas permeation occurs when the gas enters the elastomer matrix and expands due to drop in pressure. As the gas expand it will cause blister or bubbles to form inside the elastomer. In some serious case the gas can expand to a point where the elastomer ruptures. This is called explosive decompression. The pressure drop that cause the gas to enter the elastomer can be caused by events such as when the fluid level equalizing in the wellbore right after the wellbore are shut down or it might cause by the pulling of the pump

Chapter 3

Major Components of PCPs

3.1 Major Components Like any other positive displacement pumps, progressive cavity pumps (PCP) are engineered to displace liquid with rotary motion such as gears, screws vanes or lobes. The major system components that make up the PCP are the downhole progressive cavity pump, sucker rods and production tubing strings and the surface driver equipment. This section will focus more on

the major components of the downhole PC pump. Figure 2.1 Conventional Progressing Pump (PCP) cross-section device

3.2 Downhole PC pump In progressive cavity pumps, the component that produces this rotary motion is the screw. Core components that make up or define the progressive cavity pumps are the rotor and the stator followed by other essential components that make up the downhole PC pump.

3.2.1 Rotor The rotor is a single threaded helical screw in shape (thus the name screw pump). It is the moving or rotating component of the progressive cavity pump made possible by the connected universal joint and drive shaft. Some optional designs of the rotor also include hollow rotors which provide higher operating speeds, longer service life and silent low-vibration option. Normally it is made out of steel (ie. Chromed plated alloy steel) which provides resistance to abrasion and wear depending on the type of manufacturer.

3.2.2 Stator The stator on the other hand has an internal shape of a double helix. It serves as the stationary major component of progressive cavity pump. The stator houses the rotor and produces the cavities needed for the displacement of fluid. The pitch length of the stator is manufactured twice that of the rotor (ie. 1:2 profile elements, one lobe on the rotor and two lobes in the stator). According to the inventors original theory, Ren Moineau, any combination is possible so long as the stator has one or more lobe than the rotor. Normally it is formed from an elastomeric material of which fits the rotor with an interference fit (ie. Natural rubber, Buna nitrile, Viton etc.) this is also dependent on the type of manufacturer.

3.2.3 Universal joint (U-joint)

Figure 3.1 Universal Joint/ Cardan Joint

A universal joint is a pair of hinges connected to each other with an orientation of 90O. It is a joint or a coupling that connects 2 rigid rods together while at the same time allowing it to bend in any direction (permitting some degree of misalignment) while rotating thus introducing mechanical flexibility to the equipment. It is a connection made between the rotor (output shaft) and the drive shaft (input shaft) of a pump. The rods are connected by a cross shaft that transfers the power delivered by the power source to the rotor. U-joint plays an important role in progressive cavity pumps as the rotor rotates in a hypocloid form of motion or off-center motion (thus the alternative name eccentric screw pump). Apart from off-center motion, the U-joint also introduces easier disconnection for repairs or alterations thus reducing cost when damages occur.

3.2.4 Suction Casing Suction casing houses the stator and rotor. Its main purpose is to protect the external layer of the stator and prevents external water absorption or abrasion. The housing is usually made from stainless steel, iron, bronze, titanium or other forms of alloy.

3.2.5 Drive Shaft PCPs requires torque to rotate the rotor thus a drive shaft is installed. Drive shafts are a mechanical component used for transferring torque by connection of different components in a drive train that cannot be connected directly due to distance or the need for relative movement between them. At the same time, due to torque, drive shafts are also subject to torsion and shear stress that is equivalent to the input torque and the load. As a result, drive shafts are manufactured to be strong enough to bear heavy stress at the same time avoiding excess additional weight as it would in turn increase inertia. Usually drive shafts would usually incorporate one or more joints and couplings to allow variations in the driving and driven components.

3.3 Sucker Rods and production tubing Sucker rods are steel rods usually between 25 and 30 feet in length and threaded at both ends. They are usually applied in the wellbore to join together surface and downhole components. Usually fitted for piston type pumps in an oil well, PCP pumps also rely on sucker rods to transfer torsional an axial loads from the surface drive system down to the bottomhole PCP. Production tubing on the other hand are mostly the typical ones used in other oil and gas production operations.

3.4 Surface Drive Equipment Surface drive system is essential as it delivers torque required at the rods and aids in safely rotating the polished at the desired speed. Apart from that it prevents produced fluid from escaping the system. The system is located safely at the surface where it is easily manageable and contained. All surface equipment systems include a wellhead drive unit (drive head), a stuffing box, power transmission equipment and a prime mover. Wellhead drive units facilitate proper alignment of the drive on the wellhead which aids in preventing the stuffing box from leakages at the same time gives enough strength to carry heavier drive heads and motors. Its main importance is to support the axial rod-string load. Power transmission equipment on the other hand is used to transmit power (power and speed) from a prime mover to the rod. This equipment usually consists of a speed reduction or torque transfer system that allows a prime mover to operate at an increased speed but at the same time lower torque than that of the rod. Lastly is the prime mover which serves as the energy provider to driver the surface equipment and ultimately the rod string and downhole pump.


Figure 3.2 Progressing Cavity Pump (PCP) system components




4.1 Advantages

The progressive cavity pumps have some unique characteristics compared to other artificial lifts that are used for oil field. One of the unique characteristics of this pump is their higher efficiencies compared to other artificial lifts which is 55 to 70% efficiency. This pump is an extremely versatile pump the can be used in many different pumping applications. Thus it can achieve higher efficiency.

These pumps are the most beneficial pump. This pump is beneficial compared to other is because the cost for this pump is lower compared to others. This pump is having lower capital cost. The construction of this pump is simple. The start-up cost of this is reduced due to the compact surface drive units of this pump. Due to lower cost and simple construction, thus more pumps can be installed and more oil can be recovered. This makes the oil recovery percentage become higher. Besides that, this pumps running at low cost. This is because the overall efficiency of 70% which is significantly higher than alternative lift methods. This will reduces the cost per barrel of the recovered fluid. If the efficiency is very low, the cost per barrel of recovered fluid will be higher.

The simple construction consists of only one moving part downhole and has no standing or traveling valves to block. The pump handles gas and solids without blocking and is more resistant to abrasive wear. This progressive cavity pump is also low and unobtrusive profile of the quiet running surface drive head makes this pump ideal for the environmentally sensitive areas. Besides that, this pump also avoids the spills of the fluid to happen. This is done by using the art Leak Detection Stuffing Boxes. This help to protect the environment from spills.


The reading of the progressive cavity pump is very accurate compared to the other types of pumps. This is because the low pulsation the progressive cavity pump offers very exact metering. Thus, no additional valve will be required in order to obtain the exact reading. By using this pump, there will be no backflow into the pump. When the application stopped, the progressive cavity pump closes like a slider. Thus, there will no backflow returns to the pump. Since there is no backflow into the pump, the flow rate is increasing always proportional to the speed. Thus, the optimal efficiency of this pump extends over a very wide range.

The progressive cavity pump is suitable for high pressure. This pump can achieve a pressure increase of up to 80 bars. The higher pressures are desirable for moving product greater distances and for applications involving extrusions. This pump is used when the pumping application is not suited to a centrifugal pump. This is applied especially when the liquid has a higher viscosity or higher thickness than water. This progressive cavity pump is different with the centrifugal pumps. Centrifugal pumps become very mechanical and volumetrically inefficient when the viscosity of liquid goes up, thus make the flow goes down and the power consumption goes up, but this goes opposite with the progressive cavity pump. If using the progressive cavity pump, the mechanical efficiency and volumetric efficiency goes up when the viscosity increase, lower power and higher flow.

Therefore, this pump is ideal for liquids with higher viscosities. This pump will maintain the same flow no matter what the viscosity of the liquid is. If there is a pumping application where the flow of liquid need to be constant but the liquid viscosity is variable and will change, then this pump should be used. This pump is an ideal pump to be used when the application requires a varied flow. This pump has a precise flow per revolution of the pump. Thus, it is easy to regulate the pump flow by just regulating the pump speed. Nowadays, the modern pump speed controllers are well suited with this progressive cavity pumps.

The progressive cavity pump is also suitable to be used when the suction conditions of the pumping applications are not ideal. This pump requires much lower Net Positive Suction Head (NPSH) as compared to a centrifugal pump. This is because the internal pump velocity is lower.


A progressive cavity pump can pump when the pressure as low as 28 of mercury (Hg) but the centrifugal pump cannot. This pump is very suitable to be used with the difficult applications which the centrifugal pump cannot be used. This pump also is easily to be filled.

This pump is also ideal for the applications where the liquid is sheer sensitive again due to the lower internal velocity. This pump is very good to be used when pumping oil and water mixtures to separation devices. This pump will not change the oil droplets compared to the centrifugal pump which will emulsify the oil and make oil droplets very small. The separation devices work much better when the oil droplets are larger. Thus, the progressive cavity pump is very suitable for this application in order to increase or maintain the performance of the separator devices.

Moreover, the progressive cavity pump is best applied when the liquid contains abrasive solids. This progressive cavity pump can pump solids very well compared to other types of positive displacement pumps which cannot pump solids very well. The other types than progressive cavity pump cannot pump solids very well or for long is because their close tolerances and all metal designs. Most of the centrifugal pump will simply wear out when solids are present in the liquid. This could make them clog. This progressive cavity pump is designed to last longer than all other pumps on abrasive applications. For the abrasive application, the pump is designed with the rotor and stator is the heart of the pump. The internal velocity of the liquids travels through the pump is much lower than other types of pumps

This is because the flow travels in the progressive cavity pump is different than other types of the pumps. The flow travels axially through the progressive cavity pump and it is not travelling around the outside of casing in a high speed circle like the flow that travel in other pumps. The abrasive particles are flow in a parallel to the pumping surfaces at low speeds, thus not abrading the pump. Besides that, in the progressive cavity pump consists of a rubber stator. If a particle contact with this rubber stator, the stator has some flexibility to move and not abrade. This makes the pump last longer than metal parts in other types of pumps on abrasive applications.


4.2 Disadvantages

Disadvantages Elastomers swell in stator

Explanations Elastomer swell happens when the stator is affected by the production fluids or chemical reactions and temperature. When the stator is in contact with high API gravity oil and incompatible chemicals, the stator is said to be in chemical swell. Thermal swell happens when the temperature increases, causing the elastomer to expand.

Figure 1: Chemical and thermal swells Pump stator may undergo damage if pumped dry When the pump is pumped dry, the elastomer will become hard and brittle, eventually cracked. This usually happens when lack of fluids entering the pump; causing temperature build-up and eventually expanding the elastomer. Pump off control is difficult Pump off can be defined as the lack of fluids entering the pump. This occurs mainly because of plugged pump intake, poor inflow or production rates exceed the inflow. Low pump speed Generally, the pump speed is set at most 500 RPM because speed exceeds the maximum will cause problems to the sucker rod and surface equipment. Such problems as fatigue failures and vibration. Gas permeation occurs when gas enters the elastomer matrix and Gas permeation expands due to a pressure drop. This usually happens during pulling


of pump or shut down. The expanding of elastomer matrix sometimes called as explosive decompression.

Figure 2: Explosive decompression Short life span of stator and rotor Abrasive wear occurs between the stator and rotor. This usually caused by rubbing velocity, which in time will reduce the life span of rotor and stator. Besides that, frequent change of the stator and rotor will increase the operating cost of the pump. Thus

Figure 3: Abrasive wear of the rotor Limited to relative shallw wells The pump is limited to the shallow depth well (approximately 5000 ft. 6000ft.) due to its limitations. Torsional or fatigue failures placed on the rod strings and temperature limitations are some limitations why it is not used in deeper wells. Limited to viscous fluids When gas enters the pump, it will decrease the efficiency of the pump. This is because the gas occupies the pump cavity, thereby further compression must be done to discharge the gas from the cavity.


Limited temperature capability

The pump is limited to a well temperature of about 100oC to 180oC with the use of special elastomers. If the temperature goes beyond the range, thermal swell will happens.

Limited production rates

Due to the operating principle of the pump, the maximum production rate is about 800 m3/d (approximately 5.040 bbls/d) in a large diameter pumps while lower rate for a small diameter pump.


Chapter 5

Conclusion For the past several decades, artificial lift has referred to the traditional method of downhole pumping. The revolution of technology has broaden the uses of artificial lift. Today, artificial lift is no longer limited referred as a methods applied in the wellbore only, but instead also used throughout the production system to lift the production fluid to their final destination. There two types of artificial lift that has been used quite some time which are gas lift and pumping system. The progressing cavity pump (PCP) has been used as fluid transfer pump for many years. It represents a widely used type of pump predominantly used for the transport of highly viscous and non-lubricating fluid in petroleum industry. The use of progressing cavity pumps as a means of artificial lift has numerous advantages over other artificial lift methods. Through years of research and development in PCPs design, the production and lift capabilities are expanding to cover a wide range of applications. With various elastomeric materials available, a wide range of well fluids can be handled efficiently using the progressing cavity pump. The ability to pump abrasive fluids lends itself well to many of the viscous sand laden crudes found throughout the world. With present lift capabilities from 4000 feet and capacities to 1000 BPD, the progressing cavity pump is ever expanding and becoming a viable alternative for wells utilizing artificial lift. The most common PCPs design is one of a single helical rotor rotating eccentrically inside a double threaded helical elastomeric stator of twice the pitch length. The number of seal lines determines the pressure capabilities of the pump is one of the determining factors of the slip experienced within the pump.


Reference API Spec. 11B, Specification for Sucker Rods. 1990. Washington, DC: API. API Spec. 5CT, Specification for Casing and Tubing. 1990. Washington, DC: API. Cholet, H. (1997). Progressing Cavity Pumps retrieved from /books?id =e2v2YYqe4gwC&printsec=frontcover&dq=progressive+cavity+pump&hl=en&sa=X&ei=3n2 DUpGWHOeCyAGenIGwCw&ved=0CEoQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=progressive%20cavity%2 0pump&f=false Colfax Corporation. (n.d.). Progressing Cavity Pumps. Monroe, Wisconsin, USA.

Gamboa, J. Gonzalez, P. Iglesias, J. & Olivet, A. (2003). Understanding the Performance of Progressive Cavity Pump With A Metallic Stator. Symposium conducted at the Proceeding Of The 20th Pump User Symposium. General Guidelines for Failure Analysis of Downhole Progressing Cavity Pumps. Retrieved on November 5, 2013 from:

Lange, J. and Strawn, J. 2006. Prime Movers. In Petroleum Engineering Handbook, Ch. 8. Richardson, Texas: SPE.

Nelik, D., & Champlin, S. (2008, July). Focus on Fundementals (Part Four): Progressive Cavity Pumps. Retrieved from Pumps&Systems:

PEH: Progressing Cavity Pumping System. Retrieved on November 5, 2013 from:

Progressing Cavity Pump from KNOLL. Retrieved on November 5, 2013 from:

Progressing Cavity Pump (PCP) System. Retrieved on November 5, 2013 from:


Stuart L. S. (May, 2006). Artificial Lift: Development Status of a Metal Progressing Cavity Pump for Heavy-Oil and Hot-Production Wells.

Vetter, G., & Wirth, W. (n.d.). Understand Progressing Cavity Pumps Characteristics and Avoid Abrasive Wear. Erlangen.

Weatherford (March, 2012). Weatherford: Introduction to Artificial lift System. Wild, A. G. (n.d.). Progressing Cavity Pumps Proper Selection and Application. Robbins & Myers Inc. Springfield. Ohio.

When To Use Progressive Cavity Pumps. Liberty Process. Retrieved on November 5, 2013 from:

Woolsey, K. A (2010). Improving Progressing Cavity Pump Performance through Automation and Surveillance. KUDU Industries Inc. Society of Petroleum Engineers



Figure 4: Abrasive wear of the rotor

Figure 5: Elastomer swell

Figure 6: Torsional or fatigue failure


Gas Lift Max Depth Max Volume Max Temp Corrosion Handling Gas Handling Solids Handling Fluid Gravity (API) Wireline or workover rig Compressor Excellent 10% -30% >15 18,000 ft 75,000 bpd 450F Good to Excellent Excellent

Foam Lift 22,000 ft 500 bpd 400F Excellent

Plunger 19,000 ft 200 bpd 550F Excellent

Rod Lift 16,000 ft 6,000 bpd 550F Good to Excellent Fair to good

PCP 8,600 ft 5,000 bpd 250F Fair

ESP 15,000 ft 60,000 bpd 482F Good

Hyd Jet 20,000 ft 35,000 bpd 550F Excellent

Hyd Piston 17,000 ft 8,000 bpd 550F Good




Fair Sand <40ppm Viscosity <400cp






Fair to good










Capillary Unit

Wellhead Catcher or Wireline

Workever or pulling rig

Wireline or workover rig

Hydraulic or wireline

Prime Mover Offshore System Efficiency

Well natural energy Good N/A N/A N/A

Gas or electric Limited 45% 60% Limited 50% 75%

Electric Excellent 35% 60%

Gas or Electric Excellent 10% 30% Good 45% 55%

Source: Weatherford - Introduction to Artificial lift System