Carlos García
Founding Partner and Director General
Turbomáquinas
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Insight

Big Savings from Turbomachinery Maintenance

Wed, 01/21/2015 - 14:43

Given how many savings can be obtained through efficient processes, oilfield operators across the globe are searching for strategies that can help them optimize operations without the need for large capital expenditures. As seen in other extractive industries, one of the best alternatives to cut costs and enhance productivity that does not require heavy investment is diligent maintenance. “The continuous wear of processing equipment is undoubtedly transformed into inefficiencies that result in poor operational performance. If this is combined with low hydrocarbon prices, it can generate great economic losses for any company in the industry,” says Carlos García, Founding Partner and Director General of Turbomáquinas. According to García, gas and steam turbines as well as axial and centrifugal compressors are at the core of many oil and gas processes. This means it makes all the more sense for operators to adopt maintenance practices that enable them to guarantee the proper functioning of their systems. “Unfortunately, many companies fail to understand that every single component in their turbomachinery plays a crucial role in the entire process. The slightest failure could lead to several hours of reactive maintenance that can really obstruct the continuity of operations,” he comments. Current oil and gas platforms require this type of equipment to drive compressors, either to inject gas into a well so that the pressure can help the oil rise via a borehole, or to compress gas for transportation. These technologies are also often used to generate power for the platforms through steam turbines and engines. The forces and energies to which the turbomachinery is submitted can often lead to the failure of internal parts such as stamps, blades, impellers, and valves. Other common malfunctions are caused by changes in molecular hydrocarbon weight or variations in pressure and temperature. “If the equipment is not operating at its designed capacity, it can impair costcompetitive operations in refineries, chemical processing plans, compression stations, and offshore platforms,” adds García. However, Turbomáquinas understands that such breakdowns cannot be avoided altogether. Therefore, it offers revamping services to adapt existing turbomachinery to newer processes, guaranteeing equal functionality as if the machines were originally designed to operate under those exact process conditions. Before conducting any sort of maintenance, repair, or adaptation, Turbomáquinas runs every piece of equipment through its Diagnostics Department where it is scrutinized to ensure that all anomalies are detected and corrected. “We abide by the rules of the American Petroleum Institute (API), and we have qualified technicians with over ten years of experience in techniques such as ultrasound, liquid penetrant, and magnetic particle testing. Nothing leaves our workshop unless it has been thoroughly examined,” García explains.

Turbomáquinas offers a wide array of maintenance and repair solutions to cover virtually any need that customers have for their turbomachinery. Over the last 50 years, PEMEX has regularly knocked on Turbomáquinas’ door, requesting anything from the manufacturing and refurbishment of centrifugal compressors, to the balancing of dynamic equipment and the implementation and machining of spare parts. “We understand the importance of this equipment and we know what is at risk if quality standards or deadlines are not met. This is why Turbomáquinas is renowned for its experienced engineers, highly trained technicians, and qualified inspectors,” comments García. Nevertheless, having a talented workforce is just the start and García stresses that constant monitoring of equipment after repairs are complete is crucial in order to reduce the number of interventions. “If we can detect an error at an early stage thanks to constant monitoring, we can fix it before it worsens or has a knockon effect on other equipment and processes,” states García. “This attitude is precisely why, instead of having to rely on international markets for new equipment, PEMEX has simply sent its damaged technologies to Turbomáquinas.” Besides the obvious economic benefits of repairing equipment rather than purchasing new models, PEMEX has had a local supplier for these types of services, since repairing the more sensitive equipment can take over a year if performed abroad. “We can have all equipment up and running in less than three months. We have helped PEMEX understand that a throwaway culture is not the right approach, especially within the current environment,” explains García.

Finally, the current situation of the global oil industry requires companies to carefully manage costs, and the only way to remain profitable under current oil prices is by maximizing the potential of existing assets. “Preventive maintenance has therefore become a key component of expenditure planning and operational management. PEMEX understands this as well as any other oil and gas company, and the fact that it trusts Turbomáquinas highlights the company’s skillset. We are sure that our experience working for one of the largest and most demanding oil corporations in the world will allow us to compete in this new market. We are prepared and willing to help any customers that want to optimize their turbomachinery,” García concludes.