Offshore platforms have uninterrupted power

The price of the oil barrel at reduced levels has pushed operators to resize their systems and review their strategic plans, while minimizing losses to the fullest. As in Brazil most of the oil and gas reserves are at sea and at great depths, exploration requires high investments in research and equipment. In such cases, this resizing has to be done with care so that the intended economies do not bring greater damage.

For example, a platform that produces between 50 and 100,000 barrels/day or a drilling rig, whose freight can cost thousands of dollars/day, would report great damage when having its critical systems paralyzed for lack of proper maintenance. It's a lot of money at stake to take unnecessary risks.

It is about this topic that we will deal with in this article: Do not fall into the temptation to make hasty choices against the need for cost cuts. In this case, we will specifically deal with the issues to be considered when choosing 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 need to follow that same rule, that is, to last for an equal or higher time, because any change in the initial configuration or modifications to its systems Critical will be extremely costly. Another reality is the aggressive environment of the platform, where the equipment is subjected to the action of the Maresia, intense heat, corrosive media, shaking and tilting.

So the first question to consider in choosing an uninterrupted power system for critical loads for oil rigs is its useful life and robustness. Industrial UPS are designed to provide a lifespan of 15 to 60 years and to withstand bravely the harsh conditions of the environment. But this is not the case with conventional UPS.

Some equipment on the platforms need to be fed uninterrupted and with quality energy, such as automation systems, programmable logic controllers, process and safety devices, emergency lighting systems, Turbo-compressors, in rated area, and etc. These equipments are critical loads due to their degree of importance in the production structure. Thus, the second point to be analyzed is the type of load that will be fed. While a conventional or standardized UPS is designed to feed constant and linear loads, industrial ups works with varying curves and starting peaks, harmonic distortions, in non-linear load conditions. And that's exactly the load profile of a platform.

A third and final question that we would like to emphasize is that only an industrial UPS can be customized in such a granularity that meets all the requirements of the electrical design and the plant. In addition to the physical and structural issues, there is the detailing of a series of variables, such as system design philosophy, battery design and its autonomy, internal components such as, rectifier and inverter, operating modes, voltage levels, Harmonics of the system. They will also influence the project's initial assumptions, including costs, short-and long-term maintenance needs and spare parts. And we still have to include in this list the certifications, international regulations and especially health and safety requirements. This is all only possible to be customized in an industrial UPS.

Finally, it is worth remembering that a UPS represents less than 3% of the cost of the platform's electrical scope. This percentage can pass the idea that this type of solution is an element of lesser importance within the larger framework of the offshore platform. That doesn't correspond to reality. Errors in the energy supply infrastructure project hinder the operation of the Platform as a whole, directly affecting the continuity of services. It is the business itself that is harmed when an incorrect choice happens. In the oil industry the stakes are high, the losses too.


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