The geological features of the hydrocarbon reservoir and the inconsequential mobility of the heavy oil make the recovery process challenging. Recently, commercial interest has been developed in heavy oil production systems with the advent of improved drainage area by drilling multilateral and horizontal wells and highly deviated wells at shallow reservoirs. Moreover, other new recovery methods were developed such as downhole technologies that include cold or thermal production. Commonly, artificial lift techniques are utilized when the well cannot offload naturally at its economical rate. This is applicable for heavy oil reservoirs, where high viscosity along with the reservoir pressure drop will avoid the wells to produce naturally. Producing heavy oil together with associated water from the reservoir can create emulsions, which may cause high loads on artificial lift methods, along with high power consumption and requirements of expensive chemicals. The optimization and the selection of handling viscous oils; had a fundamental impact on the development of pimps. This chapter reviews the applications and types of pumping systems as an artificial lift in the heavy oil production process and reviews the pumping system performance, and its future development, as well as the expected technical challenges.
Part of the book: Processing of Heavy Crude Oils