Uninterrupted power on offshore platforms

The price of a barrel of oil at reduced levels have pushed operators to resize their systems and to revise their strategic planning, while at the same time minimize losses as much as possible. As in Brazil most of the oil and gas reserves are at sea and at great depths, the exploration requires high investments in research and equipment. In these cases, this scaling must be done carefully so that alleged savings do not bring bigger losses.

For example, a platform that produces between 50 and 100000 barrels/day or a drilling platform, whose shipping can cost thousands of dollars per day, reportariam great damage when having your critical systems paralyzed by lack of proper maintenance. That's a lot of money at stake to take unnecessary risks.

It is on this subject that we'll discuss in this article: don't be tempted to make hasty choices facing the need for cost cuts. In this case, we will address specifically the issues to consider in the choice of uninterruptible power solutions (UPS) for critical loads on offshore platforms.

Conventional or industrial UPS?

An offshore platform is built to operate at least 30 years and, therefore, its components should follow the same rule, i.e., last for a period equal or higher, because any change in the initial configuration or modifications in their critical systems will be extremely costly. Another reality is the aggressive environment of the platform, where the equipment is subject to action of the salty air, intense heat, corrosive media, trepidation and inclination.

So, the first question to be considered in choosing a system of uninterrupted power to critical loads for oil platforms is their service life and robustness. The Industrial UPS are designed to present a useful life of 15 to 60 years and resist bravely adverse environmental conditions. But that's not the case of the UPS.

Some equipment on the platform need to be fed continuously and with quality, such as the energy automation systems, programmable logic controllers, process and safety devices, emergency lighting systems, turbo-compressors, in classified area, and etc. These equipments are critical loads due to its level of importance in the structure of production. So the second point to be examined is the type of cargo that will be fed. While a conventional or standard UPS is designed to feed constant and linear loads, industrial UPS works with curves and peaks of varying departure, harmonics, in conditions of non-linear loads. And this is precisely the load profile of a platform.

A third and final question that we would like to point out is that only a industrial UPS can be customized in a granularity such that meets all the requirements of the electrical and plant design. In addition to the physical and structural issues, detailing a series of variables, such as philosophy of system design, design of the batteries and their autonomy, internal components, such as, Rectifier and inverter, modes of operation, voltage levels, System harmonics. Also will influence the project the initial premises, including costs, maintenance needs of short and long term and spare parts. And we still have to include in this list the certifications, international regulations and, especially, health and safety requirements. All that you can be customized in a industrial UPS.

Finally, it is worth remembering that a UPS represents less than 3% of the cost of electric platform scope. This percentage can pass the idea that this type of solution is a minor element within the larger framework of the offshore platform. This does not correspond to reality. Errors in the design of energy supply infrastructure such that the operation of the platform as a whole, directly affecting the continuity of services. Is the own business that is harmed when an incorrect choice happens. In the oil industry the stakes are high, also losses.

* Daniel Alquéres, sales manager specialized in oil and gas segment, Emerson Network Power
GAD Communication
GAD communication and publicity Ltd
Phone: 113846-9981


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