The turbo machinery is the key equipment of any oil and gas production or processing plant. Technology changes and environmental legislation have provided a challenge to the system engineer to find the most economical available drive system for process pumps and large centrifugal compressor systems. Developments have emerged in the drive industry giving the engineer a broader base from which to select a drive system for rotating equipment requiring a variable speed operating range. A beneficial way to make electric motor driven compression more viable is to shift the speed variation from the electric motor side into the mechanical gear. Instead of operating the compressor conventionally through a variable speed motor with a fixed speed gear, the client gain ultimate reliability by implementing a robust fixed speed motor with a variable speed planetary gear. The variable speed planetary gear uses innovative mechanical technology. By utilizing a combination of proven hydrodynamic drive elements with a planetary gear and the principle of superimposed power transmission, efficiencies exceeding 95% in the upper operating range are realized. The variable speed planetary gear combines lowest capital cost with highest efficiencies and reliability mechanical drive solutions widely offer. The paper describes the operating principle, characteristics, component design and efficiencies of the variable speed planetary gear. Operating range is shown based on examples. Examples of different applications are presented with operating experience, operating hours and availability. Variable speed planetary gears have been in use for over twenty five years

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