Permian oil producers are facing increasing pressure from electric utilities to reduce power system harmonics, and the consequences for non-compliance can be severe. This paper details the results of a field-scale effort to reduce harmonics for a ChampionX UNBRIDLED® ESP Systems customer in the Permian basin, and how proper application and troubleshooting of harmonic filters exceeded customer and utility goals.

Electric utilities have long understood that variable speed drives (VSDs) are a significant source of harmonic distortion. However, distortion limits generally have not been imposed on oil producers because utilities have not been significantly impacted, until now.

Due to the large number of VSDs currently operating in the Permian basin (predominantly 6- pulse drives), the harmonics problem for utilities has reached a tipping point. In some locations, distortion of the power grid has become so severe that utilities are no longer able to communicate with smart metering devices – such devices are essential for utility billing and loss of communication with even one of these devices is a serious issue. As a result, Permian utilities have begun mandating harmonic distortion limits, as well as setting deadlines to complete harmonic remediation work. Failure to meet the utility mandates can result in severe consequences for oil producers, including disconnection of electric service or heavy penalties.

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