Delivering large-scale projects on time and within budget requires considerable coordination and management skills in order to avoid increased complexity and challenging situations. Moreover, as oil deposits are rarely close to a refinery, a series of pumping stations to transport the oil from its source to the facility is often required.
The objective of a recent project in the US was to convert an existing gas pipeline into a crude oil pipeline with a pumping capacity of 320 000 bpd of light crude. Although this is a large undertaking, the conversion is more cost-efficient and environmentally-friendly than constructing a new pipeline. This project, hoever, required all new pumping equipment to be installed.
The challenge of designing, manufacturing, installing and commissioning 15 pump skids in 10 months was awarded to Sulzer. Spanning three states, working through the cold, winter months and coordinating with seven internal and external partners, this project had potential challenges throughout.
The project took years of planning, involving local authorities and power companies that, in many cases, needed to upgrade the electrical supplies to the pumping stations. These supplies dictate the size of the electric motors used to power the pumps.
The logistics required to expand the pumping stations and increase capacity requires expert design and management skills. One important step was the appointment of the project manager, who would be the single point of contact for the client, as well as collaborating with the other stakeholders and contractors.
New contracts had to be signed with the energy providers in each state to receive the necessary electrical supplies in line with the feasibility study that was undertaken at the very beginning of the project. These supplies affected the design of the electric motor that was installed with each pump as well as the performance of the pump.
The pumps were designed based on the data provided by the customer. For each location there was information relating to the increase in head, pressure, flow, fluid viscosity and temperature that would dictate the design of each pump.
Sulzer has a range to designs that can be tailored to suit each application. In this case, the pumps were based on the HSB horizontal axially split single stage double suction pump. This has a proven record of reliability and efficiency in crude oil pipelines around the world.
Capable of pumping up to 45 000 USg/min. (10 200 m3/hr) at a head of up to 1800 ft (550 m) and able operate with temperatures up to 400°F (200°C) and pressures up to 2200 psi (150 bar), the HSB pump is versatile.
The pump skids were designed to a typical pipeline configuration but tailored to the customer’s specific requirements at each location. In this way, the optimum pumping conditions and efficiency could be maintained throughout the pipeline.
The customer fully understood the complexity of this project and the logistical challenges. Therefore, major contractors were chosen for their expertise and their ability to deliver large sections of the work in-house. In Sulzer’s case, the pump expertise was proven, but as a turnkey solution provider, it could also manage the transport and installation of the pumps, as well as the supply of the electric motors.
The delivery of a complex project required in depth planning to ensure it would be both cost-effective and delivered on time. Careful coordination of both internal and external suppliers was essential to keep the work on track. Above all, it was the flexibility of the team that would enable the successful completion of this crucial project.
The collaboration between the Sulzer team and the client’s many representatives proved to be successful, allowing everyone to concentrate on their core responsibilities. This included the company’s on-site teams, helping with the alignment of both the skids and the associated pipework, ensuring that it was installed with minimal strain on the pipes.
The greatest challenge in a project of this scale is the logistical effort required to build and install all the pumps in a way that is carefully coordinated with the build schedule of the pumping stations themselves. With so many other contractors involved with the construction of the buildings and the installation of the pipework, effective project management was essential for the timely completion of the scheme.
Thanks to the collaborative approach and proactive management, the project was delivered on time and within budget, with all of the pump skids commissioned and operating successfully. The client was very grateful to find that it was possible to deliver such a demanding project successfully.
Read the article online at: https://www.hydrocarbonengineering.com/refining/01032018/sulzer-completes-key-pump-project/