SKF magnetic bearings installed in world’s first subsea gas compression system operated by Statoil

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    2015 November 10, 13:00 CEST

    SKF magnetic bearings equip the first ever subsea gas compression system at the Statoil-operated Åsgard gas field near the Norwegian coast.

    Gothenburg, Sweden, 10 November, 2015: 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.

    The mechanical modules were assembled in the compressor frames in 2013, following the validation of the technology by Statoil, and the two units have since then undergone “burn-in” time, accumulating more than 2000 hours each, prior to installation subsea.

    In addition to supplying the magnetic bearings, SKF has also provided a control system which enables remote operation of the magnetic bearing system. This facilitates the effective and efficient use of the magnetic bearings, from initial commissioning to safe daily operation and maintenance planning.

    The magnetic bearings have been tested and qualified in wet gas conditions similar to those found in the North Sea, ensuring the bearings deliver the same high performance in subsea applications as they do in theory. In addition, the magnetic bearing control system has been tailored for use in harsh marine environments. This has been achieved through a special redundancy design in which components are assembled in an enclosure that can withstand subsea conditions.

    Aktiebolaget SKF

    For further information, please contact:
    Press Relations: Nia Kihlström, +46 31-337 2897; +46 706 67 28 97;

    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 2014 were SEK 70 975 million and the number of employees was 48 593.

    ® SKF is a registered trademark of the SKF Group.

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