On-line Partial Discharge Condition Monitoring - A Smart Solution to Falling Oil Prices

Nov 15, 2016
In a world of uncertainty one thing is for sure, the price of oil matters. Our economies rely on it and the price of oil impacts us all. Of course, rises and falls in prices are related to supply and demand, and in the current global economy, the world is awash with oil.
The reasons for the over-supply and weakened demand ratio are manifold and have included the actions of OPEC members, Russian oil production, China’s slower economic growth and the enthusiasm for shale gas production in the USA. The over-supply issue will continue to dominate in the near future, especially after sanctions against Iran, an oil producer and OPEC member, were lifted this January.
At the beginning of the year oil prices were at their lowest since 2003. Brent crude fell sharply in price from $115 a barrel in June 2014 to below $40 a barrel in March 2016, just after the announcement that the sanctions on Iran were lifted. The International Energy Agency (IEA) forecasts that lower oil prices are set to stay for the short-medium term.
In response to the reduction in global demand, investment in oil exploration has been drastically reduced, with the industry now focusing on maximising profitability from existing assets and minimising costs by increasing efficiency. Maximising uptime while minimising investment in equipment is now at the forefront of operator strategy. Reducing outages and overall downtime requires a more pragmatic approach to maintenance.
HVPD’s condition monitoring equipment can provide an effective assessment of the condition of an electrical network, enabling operators to make better informed decisions regarding planned maintenance and investments.

Marc Foxall, HVPD Director - Test Services, said: “The need to conduct on-line partial discharge testing and monitoring, without the need of unnecessary outages, is more crucial than ever. The lower oil price is driving more production, and therefore assets are being run harder with a lot of them now operating 24/7.”

Having this improved understanding enables operators to have a proactive approach to maintenance, rather than reacting to expensive unplanned outages.
In the past 20 years HVPD have conducted over 500 onshore and offshore tests and monitoring projects for all types of electrical assets, including: rotating machines, cables, transformers and switchgear. HVPD utilise this wealth of experience and knowledge to inform new waveform analysis techniques, enabling us to identify various partial discharge (PD) types and accurately determine their location.
HVPD’s 4-Phase Asset Management solution is a result of extensive development and field experience. It is widely used for a systematic and efficient condition-based management of assets to identify, locate, monitor and manage partial discharge activity within medium and high voltage networks.

“We have been working with oil and gas clients across the world to increase asset efficiency by successfully preventing costly disruption to power supplies,” says Rachel Stratton, Commercial Director. “Our customers include BP, Total, Chevron, Shell, Petronas and ConocoPhillips among others,” she adds.

Within the oil and gas industry, HVPD specialise in providing bespoke solutions for remote on-line partial discharge (OLPD) monitoring of HV Ex/ATEX motors and the monitoring of complete HV networks using HVPD Kronos® Permanent Monitors. HVPD’s monitoring technology delivers confidence in the assets electrical equipment, which is essential in the oil and gas industry, where the average cost of an outage reaches $220,000 per hour and $5,280,000 per day. (ABB Ltd “Optimised cost of ownership (2012))
Marc Foxall comments: “At the moment, the oil industry has taken on a defensive strategy by reducing capital expenditure and implementing aggressive cost cutting. However, looking at the average failure cost for the industry, the initial investment of a complete network monitoring system is paid back through the avoidance of just one unplanned outage.”
Apart from the obvious cost savings made by preventing downtime, the implementation of OLPD monitoring technology brings additional long term benefits. The detection and repair of incipient medium and high voltage insulation faults will maximise network safety, extend asset life and improve its reliability.
For many energy producers, the reduction to the global price of oil is becoming their biggest challenge to date, with the focus now on consolidating during this phase and trying to protect jobs and revenues. In order to achieve this, the industry is now seeking to improve business efficiency based on new partnerships, a reduction of maintenance costs and a smarter use of the available technology such as OLPD condition monitoring.

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