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Where Oil And water Mix

17 January 2013

Offshore oil and gas is one of the toughest environments in the world for high-power electrical machinery. For Brazilian manufacturer WEG, it’s also proving to be an increasingly important market

Oil production has always been a particularly demanding industrial environment. To keep the engines of the world running, oil companies must fight a daily battle on many fronts: drilling through thousands of feet of rock, pumping gases and liquids at high volumes, temperatures and pressures and dealing with the constant risk of fire or explosion.

As the most accessible oil reserves reach the end of their productive lives, those challenges are increasingly being compounded by more offshore operation. Offshore and deep sea oil and gas production includes all the difficulties of onshore work, and adds a bundle more: difficult weather conditions, a highly corrosive saltwater environment, tight space constraints on production platforms and the requirement to keep equipment running safely and productively when spare parts have to be delivered by helicopter or during irregular visits by supply vessels. And that’s not to mention the need to manage delicate and demanding drilling operations under thousands of feet of water.

For companies working in these conditions, it is vital that every piece of equipment they rely on is built to the highest standards of strength, safety and reliability. In particular, high-powered on-board electrical generators are the vital life-support system of any offshore production platform or vessel, providing power for the living quarters, material handling equipment, drills, pumps and safety systems that these facilities depend upon.

For Brazil-based motor and generator manufacturer WEG, offshore oil and gas is an important market and the company has gained considerable experience supplying organisations that operate in the sector, helped by the fact that it has one of the most challenging offshore environments 250km from its doorstep, in the form of Brazil’s burgeoning  deep-water oil fields.

Safety & reliability

"The offshore environment may be the ultimate testing ground for our equipment,” says Marek Lukaszczyk at WEG. "The equipment we supply for these environments is often high powered and the industry has extremely demanding standards for reliability, safety and ease of maintenance in the field.”

Once example of WEG’s work in the oil and gas sector is the company’s recent supply of equipment for eight new vessels for Petrobras in Brazil. The company is providing Rolls-Royce with 20 synchronous generators and Dresser Rand with 60 induction motors to be used on Petrobras ‘replicant’ Floating Production Storage and Offloading (FPSO) vessels, used for the processing of hydrocarbons and storage of oil. Six of these vessels will operate in the Lula (formerly Tupi) oilfields, and two in the Guará field. Both these fields are located in the petroleum rich pre-salt area of the Santos Basin off the coast of Brazil. 

The 20 synchronous generators supplied to Rolls-Royce are 31,250MVA, 4 pole, 60 Hz, brushless PMG units that comply with ABS, API 546 and Petrobras standards. These generators are going to be driven by Rolls-Royce Trent gas turbines to supply all the power requirements of the FPSO vessels.

High-powered on-board electrical generators are the vital life-support system of any offshore production platform or vessel

The 60 high voltage motors supplied to Dresser-Rand are going to be driving DR DATUM compressor trains. These compressors are divided into main compressors, export compressors and reinjection compressors. The high voltage motors are of induction design, 11MV, 4 pole, 13.8V, 60 Hz IP56W, Exp (pressurised), TEWAC (Total Enclosed Water Air Cooled) that are suitable for Zone 2 Group IIA, T3.

This contract award was significant in maintaining WEG’s strong relationship with Petrobras and its suppliers. During the quotation phase of the project, WEG supplied support to both Dresser-Rand and Rolls-Royce, ensuring maximum understanding of the quality, reliability and extended service life of WEG’s products in the oil and gas environment. 

WEG’s oil and gas experience extends far beyond its home market too. Through its US joint venture, Electric Machinery-WEG Group, the company is now supplying high-value equipment to a number of major US based oil producers. Recently, for example the organisation supplied six two-pole generators to Chevron for two of its large offshore floating platform projects, which will be operating in the Gulf of Mexico. The generators will be driven by GE LM2500 gas turbines and will provide the main power onboard the platforms.

WEG and Electric Machinery’s long standing relationship with Chevron, along with a highly developed ability to design and manufacture key components in house assisted in landing the multi-million dollar project. 

The generators were manufactured at EM’s United States facility to stringent API 546 standards and certified by ABS (American Bureau of Shipping) on behalf of the U.S. Coast Guard. The model 3180 turbo generators each develop 30,500KW and 13,800 volts at 60 Hz. 

EM two-pole turbo generators provide high quality and reliability along with low maintenance and extended service life. They offer brushless excitation, EM Duraguard class F VPI insulation, low vibration levels and bracket (end shield) bearing construction.

"As the oil and gas industry continues to move into ever more demanding environments, we expect demand for high performance, high reliability electric equipment to rise,” concludes Lukaszczyk. "And our significant experience in the sector benefits our customers in other industries too, as we strive to transfer the best of our experience in designing equipment for these environments to other markets.”

Key Points

  • In offshore applications it is vital that every piece of equipment is built to the highest standards of strength, safety and reliability 
  • WEG has recently supplied equipment for eight new vessels for Petrobras in Brazil 
  • EM two-pole turbo generators provide high quality and reliability along with low maintenance and extended service life