GE Oil & Gas Expands Artificial Lift Portfolio with Variable Speed Drive

By Tim Shea

Company and Product News

With unconventional oil and gas operators seeking more flexible production equipment that can handle fluctuating conditions, GE Oil & Gas announced the global introduction of its next-generation Vector Plus variable speed drive (VSD) surface control system for electric submersible pumps (ESPs). ESPs are a widely used form of artificial lift that utilize centrifugal force to pump hydrocarbons to the surface, enabling high flow and enhanced production.

ESPs are widely used to aid production in with high-volume wells and operate, on average, 6,000 feet below the surface. GE provides two ways to control the ESP motor from the surface—by using either a switchboard or a VSD system, such as the company's new Vector Plus VSD and its predecessor, the Vector VIITM VSD. While switchboards allow the operator to turn the motor on and off, GE's new Vector Plus VSD allows the operator to gradually increase ESP motor speed and remotely adjust ESP speed from the surface with greater ease of use and improved intelligent control capabilities.

GE's Vector Plus VSD is compatible with other GE artificial lift products, such as Zenith Downhole Sensors and Field Vantage Solution, and incorporates other existing control technologies, enabling GE to offer customers a cost-effective, integrated solution.

Other key customer benefits of the Vector Plus VSD include:

  • It can be used with ESP applications ranging from 100 to 1,000 horsepower.
  • It is designed to work on all worldwide power systems rated 380-480 volts in both 50 and 60 Hz markets.
  • It has an outdoor NEMA 4 rating, meaning that the enclosure is completely sealed against the outdoor environment, to prevent the entrance of dust, dirt and moisture.


Significant growth in the global unconventional oil and gas space is a major energy trend driving GE Oil & Gas' innovations in artificial lift technologies, with the goal of offering operators the right type of solution to address the unique technical and environmental challenges of unconventional wells. Unconventional production, driven by shale exploration and production, is expected to increase globally by 50 percent by 2018 alone.

GE made its first significant entry into the artificial lift segment with its 2011 acquisition of the Well Support Division of John Wood Group PLC., a major ESP manufacturer. GE's subsequent 2013 acquisition of Lufkin Industries' beam pumps, progressing cavity pumps (PCPs), gas lift, plunger lift, hydraulic lift, reciprocating pumps and automation solutions allows the company to offer a complete portfolio of artificial lift technologies, depending on a well operator's needs. In 2014, GE Oil & Gas consolidated all of its artificial lift offerings in the new Well Performance Services business.


Keywords: Variable Speed Drive (VSD), Surface Control System, Electric Submersible Pumps (ESPs), Hydrocarbons, Unconventional Oil & Gas, ARC Advisory Group.

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