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1,000th SKF S2M magnetic bearing put into operation in oil and gas

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    2014 July 18, 14:00 CEST

    SKF has commissioned its 1,000th S2M magnetic bearing system, integrated in a stand-alone compressor for a natural gas transport application

    Gothenburg, Sweden, 18 July 2014: SKF has commissioned its 1,000th SKF S2M active magnetic bearing (AMB), a milestone that underlines how the innovation is bringing enhanced reliability to an ever-increasing number of oil and gas customers. The frictionless, oil-free, low maintenance operation of the SKF S2M magnetic bearings has proved a powerful solution by bringing the benefits of high efficiency, long service life and low maintenance to critical oil and gas applications.

    The 1,000th large turbomachinery installation brings the additional benefits of several advanced features. The bearing’s more robust internal design increases resistance to harsh gas environments and also increases the range of possible applications. The magnetic bearing control system has remote monitoring and diagnostics possibilities that measure the machine’s critical parameters, such as rotation speed, vibrations and temperatures. The mechanical parts of the AMB system are based on a field-proven design with mechanical interfaces adapted to particularities of an OEM’s machine.  The control cabinet employed is an industry standard digital E300Volt/30Amp system, a true workhorse in oil & gas applications that have accumulated over tens of millions of hours of operational experience.  The AMB controller has been customized by taking into account all aspects of complex rotor dynamics of the machine. Also, a formalised collaboration process between customer and SKF local service teams has been developed. These were key factors that enabled the local service engineer to carry out commissioning of the 1,000th SKF S2M in a short period of time.

    Success in this application depends on having the right people in the right places. SKF has more than 30 years of experience in magnetic bearings for oil & gas industry and a broad global presence with specialist AMB branches operating in France, Canada, the United States, Russia, China, Japan and the Middle East. This provides an experienced engineering staff that speaks the native language and understands local culture.  The result is a rapid and efficient service in applications where time is critical.

    For customers that need to increase the reliability and availability of their machines, SKF has many documented cases where 99-100% reliability is the standard. Many users have reported that the machine has operated for 100,000 hours without any fault related to magnetic bearings. Typically, MTBF (Mean Time Between Failures) is more than 40,000 hours.

    High reliability such as this has a direct benefit to process throughput and operational efficiencies.  When combined with the elimination of other drive train elements, such as the lubrication system and gearbox, an SKF S2M bearing creates major savings in operational expenditures (OPEX) along with a favourable return on investment of the original capital expenditure (CAPEX).

    As a result of their robustness, SKF S2M magnetic bearings widen the operating range of machines. This allows rotation at higher-speeds and the capability to withstanding higher operation loads, providing the customer with much greater operating flexibility.  This is why SKF S2M magnetic bearings have become an industry standard and a preferred customer choice for most oil and gas applications.

    The world’s first magnetic bearings pipeline compressor was commissioned in 1985 in Canada.  This was followed by the world’s first oil-free turbo-expander for an off-shore site in Norway. It was the French company S2M (then an SKF subsidiary) who pioneered the technology. It is remarkable that some of the early installations are still operating without failure after more than 25 years.

    The expanding application range now includes gas storage compressors, polyethylene compressors, high-speed electric motor drives, ethylene turbo-expanders, power generation turbogenerators and many others. These machines are used by all oil and gas majors worldwide, from the African coast offshore to Siberian fields above the Arctic Circle, to petrochemical plants in North America.

    SKF S2M's magnetic bearings were selected to equip the compressors and high speed motors for sub-sea gas application. The first world’s subsea gas compression station with SKF S2M magnetic bearings is scheduled to be installed in the Åsgard field offshore Norway for 2015.  The system was designed to prolong the operating life of the gas field and improve recovery rates.

    With more than 130,000 units in operation, SKF has unparalleled experience in active magnetic bearings covering a diverse range of application areas: from small industrial machines to heavy-duty oil and gas turbo-machines.

    Aktiebolaget SKF

    For further information, please contact:
    Press Relations: Monique Turner, +1 267 436 6836; +1215 801 8722;

    SKF is a leading global supplier of bearings, seals, mechatronics, lubrication systems, and services which include technical support, maintenance and reliability services, engineering consulting and training. SKF is represented in more than 130 countries and has around 15,000 distributor locations worldwide. Annual sales in 2013 were SEK 63,597 million and the number of employees was 48,401.

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