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Extreme Conditions for Pump Stations


Whether encased in ice, surrounded by desert, or on the high seas, components at pump stations for oil and gas production must endure the harshest conditions for decades at a time. WAGO designed the I/O-SYSTEM 750 XTR specifically for these environments.

WAGO controllers are used, not only in many aspects of industrial automation and processing technology, but also in pump stations of diverse types. Pumps are used, for example, to lower ground water levels at mining and construction sites, and also form part of the supply infrastructures in all industrial manufacturing and process engineering. Another important and highly complex application appears in oil and gas production around the world, from Alaska and Russia to Brazil. In addition to processing all relevant parameters, like pressure, temperature, and throughput, WAGO automation can take over the control of the pump station itself, and also offers the option for connection to the control level. Components that are installed in pump stations to obtain the liquid and gaseous raw materials, have to withstand the most varied of environmental conditions, and must also satisfy the highest levels of legal requirements of multiple different countries. In addition to strict regulations and controls by state institutions, the oil companies also have also incorporated strict guidelines for the selection, use, and operation of components and aggregates into their specifications. These requirements concern not only system availability and productivity, but also environmental and resource protections.

Extreme Conditions are Constant in Oil and Gas Production

Oil and gas production is a fraught topic, not only in politics, but also technologically. The pump stations must be erected in direct proximity to the oil and gas reservoirs. These locations are often remote from civilization and are rarely inhabited, as most are subject to extremely harsh weather conditions. In those places where humans cannot or will not live, sensitive electronic components, like controllers, isolation amplifiers, and I/O modules, must endure extreme weather events, because high system availability is the beginning and end for the multi-billion dollar oil and gas industry. This applies even during the design of pump stations, because making the correct decisions for the highest level of productivity and long term use of components is a necessity when systems are expected to function effectively for at least ten to thirty years under harsh conditions. For vendors, this means extraordinary requirements that must be observed during the development and production of components.

Offshore – Salt Water Accelerates Wear

Installations on the high seas, like drilling rigs, are exposed to extremes of weather and environment. While the temperature may see only moderate fluctuations in the range from +5 to +30°C, the salt air adheres to and clogs components. Rust and other corrosion damage follows shortly thereafter. External corrosion caused by saltwater can only be counteracted by high-quality components made from stainless steel. So-called interior corrosion is far more problematic and also more difficult to manage, because hydrogen sulfide, which occurs naturally during oil production, also attacks stainless steel. As long as the materials remain in motion, this rarely arises. The media mixture, made of gas, oil, water, and sand, is critical when pumps are not operating and the mixture stands in the lines for any length of time. Therefore, electrical components in offshore applications are installed in specialized control cabinets to protect them from external influences to the extent possible. In addition, the installation spaces are ideally equipped with air treatment systems to remove the salt from the air and maintain the temperature at constant levels. These solutions significantly increase component lifecycles.

Desert – Sand and Heat as Challenges

In desert regions, electronics are exposed to large temperature fluctuations: at some locations in the Sahara, or the Rub-al-Khali desert on the Arabian peninsula, days can see temperatures higher than +60°C, the nights are still relatively cold. Temperature differences of 40°C within 12 hours are not rare. External control cabinets can heat up to far more than +60°C. In addition, there is a risk that dust and sand can clog the control cabinet filters.

Icy and Cold Regions – Condensation is the Enemy

Of all extreme environments, cold is the easiest to manage. The greatest risk there is that condensation will form on the PCBs, due to the temperature fluctuations, and destroy them. In addition, electronic components can be damaged when exposed to negative temperatures for long periods. This problems can be countered relatively easily by installing heating systems, which then ensure constant temperatures in the control cabinet room.

The WAGO-I/O-SYSTEM 750 XTR - Reliably Masters All Challenges

In addition to the stresses that Nature places on electronic components in pump stations, there are increasing levels of legal requirements prescribing certification according to specific standards. These vary by country. Likewise, the environment surrounding the installation, for example, on oil tankers and drilling rigs, or near classic oil derricks, can contribute to the demands on control systems. Vibrations, temperature fluctuations, and many other factors all have to be considered.

The WAGO-I/O-SYSTEM 750 XTR was developed precisely for these extreme conditions, which prevail particularly in the processing industry and marine applications. In addition to extreme temperature resistance, from -40°C to +70°C, the system is also resistant to vibrations caused by mechanical forces. It is designed for vibrations up to 5 g (50 m/s2), is shock resistant up to 25 g (250 m/s2), and can be used up to 5000 m elevation. The enormous immunity to impulse voltages protects the I/O system electronics against impulse voltages caused by switching actions, and arcing of up to 1.0 kV (24 V modules) and 5.0 kV (230 V modules).

Due to numerous features and a robust construction, the 750 XTR prevails against mechanical and climatic forces, without additional protective measures. This reduces spatial requirements on the DIN rail. The individual components command more than 16 channels on only 12 mm of installation space. Energy and maintenance costs are reduced, and productivity is simultaneously increased. The controllers can be programmed in the familiar CODESYS environment per IEC 61131-3. The WAGO-I/O-SYSTEM 750 XTR thus facilitates optimal system availability under harsh conditions for many years, in addition to a maximum return on investment.

Text: Julia Grobe
Photo:, WAGO