SKF has supplied magnetic bearings for use in the world’s first subsea gas compression system at the Åsgard gas field off the Norwegian coast. As part of the subsea gas compression system, the bearings will contribute to recovering additional gas volumes from depleting gas fields as well as extending the lifetime of those gas fields which would otherwise be prematurely closed.
Traditionally, gas compression is made on platforms. For Åsgard, Statoil and its partners made the decision to locate it on the seabed, near the wellheads, to maximize gas recovery and therefore prolong significantly the production life time of this gas field.
SKF’s magnetic bearing technology was a key enabler to achieve this autonomous deep water subsea gas compression system. The bearing simplifies the system architecture by removing the need for components such as lubricating oil, seals and gearbox. The the magnetic bearings are integrated inside the compressor casing, preventing gas leakage and allowing a smaller environmental footprint. Furthermore, the magnetic bearings are frictionless, enabling higher rotation speeds, leading to smaller compressor modules and ultimately lighter processing plant infrastructure.
“This is a great achievement after five years of intense development, qualification and tests" says Jérémy Lepelley, SKF Magnetic Mechatronics (S2M) Subsea Manager. Compressing gas on a subsea installation is a significant step forward for the oil and gas sector. SKF magnetic bearings enable the gas compression system to be completely oil-free, exceptionally reliable.”
SKF was awarded the contract in May 2011 by MAN Diesel & Turbo, the OEM of the 11.5 MW electric-motor-driven centrifugal compressor running on SKF’s magnetic bearings.