By Richard Shultz, Waukesha Magnetic Bearings
Groningen, Europe’s largest natural gas field, was discovered in 1959. Production began in 1963, and by the end of the decade nearly 50% of the field’s reserves were depleted with free-flow operation. Nederlandse Aardolie Maatschappij (NAM), a joint venture between Royal Dutch Shell and ExxonMobil, was created in the mid-1990s to find the most cost-effective way to extract gas from the field and extend the life of its reserves.
By upgrading the field’s equipment, including installation of motors and compressors, the field could supply gas to all of the Netherlands, Germany, and Belgium for an additional 40 years. The challenge was to achieve at least 87% availability and a low total cost of ownership.
Magnetic bearings are a proven technology for large standalone motor compressor strings, like the ones at Groningen, to provide both high availability and a low total cost of ownership, as well as lower power consumption (due to decreased rotating losses), lower maintenance costs, and lower CAPEX costs compared to conventional bearings.
Read the article in the January/February 2016 issue of Fluid Handling, or download it below, for more about the operating principles of magnetic bearings, system design considerations, and the application of the technology at Groningen.