At the 2022 Emerson Exchange conference, Prabhat Behera from Occidental (Oxy) shared insights and lessons learned from a wellhead electrification project. Puffer-Sweiven’s Jack Lee and Emerson’s Damian Trujillo joined him to provide additional context on the integrated model that brought together the application, product and services.
Here is their session abstract:
Shutdown valves installed at the wellhead for oil and gas production must operate reliably when called upon and include fail-safe operation in the event of power failure. Oxy wanted to upgrade existing actuators on shutdown valves in multiple existing oilfields to provide reliable operation and progress other goals. Engagement among Oxy, Emerson Impact Partner Puffer-Sweiven, and Emerson Actuation Technologies began in mid-2019 to specify a solution, resulting in the selection of the Emerson Bettis RTS FQ fail-safe quarter-turn electric valve actuator. Due to successful deployment and operation at an oilfield in New Mexico, other installations are being evaluated, along with enhancements to provide a digital data link to each actuator.
To begin, the three speakers discussed the importance of developing a culture of safety, rather than focusing on compliance. Perceptions, mindset and mood can all affect what people do in any given moment. However, a culture of safety builds consistency in actions, regardless of any other factors.
The need to support both a safety culture and Oxy’s ambitious environmental, social and governance (ESG) goals led to a pilot project examining new options to upgrade the existing actuators on shutdown valves for the company’s existing and new oilfield developments. Traditionally, regulated line gas or instrument air has been used to actuate the wellhead valves and manual chokes. However, factors such as relatively high failure rates, winter freezing, and the amount of manual intervention required with the traditional approach inspired the search for a new solution.
Several recent developments have made electric actuator technology a viable option in many applications they were previously unsuitable for due to speed, fail condition, duty cycle or power consumption. However, Emerson has developed new technologies that allow electric actuators to be used in continuous modulation and mechanical fail-safe applications as well as standard on/off and soft modulating applications.
Several industry trends make an electric solution attractive, and the speakers highlighted three that were particularly relevant to this project. First was the wide range of temperatures in which electric actuators can reliably operate. Electric actuators are designed to work at temperatures ranging from -50°F to +185°F (-45.6°C to +85°C), which is a significant advantage for oilfields in harsh environments. Secondly, electric actuators with mechanical fail-safe can support emergency shut-down (ESD) applications and achieve a safety integrity level of 3 (SIL3). Lastly, electric actuators are cost-effective when considering the total cost of ownership (TCO) due to their diagnostic capabilities; support for remote maintenance and troubleshooting; reduced emissions; and elimination of the costs associated with air compressors, filtration elements and tubing. Prabhat pointed out that the cost and environmental benefits may not be obvious in the first year, but they become clear when looking at five years of operation and beyond.
In order to meet all the technical considerations for this project, Emerson, Oxy and Puffer worked closely together to make modifications to the actuator functionality based on project requirements. Training and the availability of local field support were also crucial for the success of the project.
Prabhat closed the session by summarizing the benefits the electric actuator solution has already delivered: lower power consumption, fewer surge events, time to market (TTM) improvement and support for data-based maintenance decisions. While this project was initially undertaken to support ESG goals, the results show that supporting safety and the environment does not have to come at the expense of financial objectives.
Visit the electric actuators product listing on Emerson.com to learn more about the full electric actuator portfolio.