Abstract

Using geostationary satellite systems to monitor compressor lubrication systems is a practical and costeffective option for energy and petroleum companies today.

The prices of satellite terminals have dropped by a factor of five in the past five years, and these compact communications devices are now available for US$500. Low-priced hardware and affordable service make satellite systems attractive for compressor monitoring.

This extended abstract explains how energy and petroleum companies can benefit from using satellite services to monitor divider block lubrication systems. It describes how these services can maximize compressor life cycles, cut operating costs, increase labor efficiency, and maximize production volumes.

Introduction

The oil and gas industry depends on critical production and monitoring data from the field. The more thorough, accurate, and timely the data, the more effectively companies can run their businesses. To achieve these results, oil and gas companies are now turning to satellite data monitoring systems such as GlobalWave from Vistar Datacom to handle their data communication needs.

Three important factors influence this trend: steadily declining prices, field-tested reliability, and ease of use. The advent of spot beam technology allows satellite power to focus more narrowly on coverage areas. These concentrated beams have enabled Vistar to design a power-efficient satellite transceiver that measures a mere six by four inches. Consequently, companies can deploy GlobalWave technology in a few minutes at a fraction of the cost of much larger traditional communications systems.

GlobalWave service equips oil and gas companies to monitor important equipment characteristics such as compressor operation status, static pressure, differential pressure, and temperature. Given that lubrication problems account for 80 per cent of compressor failures, keeping a close eye on compressor lubrication status is vital.

Insufficient lubrication can cause cylinders to seize in a couple of minutes. Too much lubrication can also impair equipment and needlessly increase operating costs.

Either way, companies incur unnecessary expenses to

repair or replace stricken compressors. Working in tandem with divider block technology, the GlobalWave system can immediately notify production operators if lubrication levels exceed a preset high or low threshold value. This prompt notification allows companies to act quickly to protect their assets, reduce costs, and maintain production volumes.

THE MOVE TO DIVIDER BLOCK LUBRICATION SYSTEMS

Compressor reliability hinges as much on the system that distributes cylinder lubrication as it does on proper lubrication and lubrication rates. Recognizing the importance of cylinder and packing lubrication systems, companies throughout the U.S. and Canada are spending millions of dollars to retrofit their compressors with state-of-the-art lubrication technology. The older self-priming vacuum style pump-to-point systems are yielding to divider block systems whose positive displacement series flow valves properly proportion and distribute lubrication. These divider block systems monitor divider block piston movement and measure the flow of lubricating fluid.

Divider block pumps avoid many of the problems associated with the self-priming vacuum style pump-to-point pumps by using a gravity or suction system. But more important, divider block systems can be automated to shut down and issue alarms should lubrication problems occur.

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