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WEG & Flowserve partner in the Gulf

The North Depot aviation fuel facility at Abu Dhabi International Airport has a fuel capacity of 96 million litres and pumps supplying the facility must meet exacting standards. This article examines how Flowserve UAE partnered with motors and drives specialist WEG to find a customised solution for the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC).

WEG manufactures drives and soft starters from component level to ensure high levels of quality control.
WEG manufactures drives and soft starters from component level to ensure high levels of quality control.

Opened in the summer of 2017, the North Depot at the Abu Dhabi International Airport was intended to meet the additional demand from Etihad Airways and would become the airport’s exclusive provider of J1 fuel. Its opening was a major stepping-stone on the road to the Midfield Terminal Project, which in turn is a key part of the country’s 2030 vision, the government’s plans to transform the Emirate’s economic base.

The ADNOC group fuels as many as 34 aircraft per hour via 26 fuel depots across the UAE. When it came to upgrading the fuel circulation pumps for the North Depot aviation facility, ADNOC turned to pumps’ supplier, Flowserve UAE. In addition to supplying the pumps, Flowserve will have overall responsibility for the upgrade project and coordinate the package for the end-user.

Upgrading VSDs
The existing set up was not very energy efficient and so the entire system was being replaced. Flowserve looked to WEG’s expertise and experience to upgrade the variable speed drives (VSDs). A global supplier of motors and drives, WEG can supply VSDs as stand-alone devices or alternatively they can be custom built within electrical panels as was the case with this project. Here, they supplied four LV VSD panels, two 132 kW and two 185 kW, along with filters.

VSDs provide enhanced control of the entire operation, controlling the speed and direction of the motors, while also offering protection. They ensure the energy consumption is proportional to the load requirements, providing substantial energy savings for the user. They also offer flexibility, as they can be programmed to come on and off for certain periods of time, with the option to modify the drive for specific applications, as was the case with this project.

Bespoke solution
“Every project will have its own unique requirements. This was a customised solution, built for the specific project,” explained Darshan Balkrishna Shejekar, development sales manager, LV Automation at WEG. “As usual this was not a straightforward project as oil and gas projects demand a high level of engineering.”

In this case, a key requirement was the need for a low harmonic solution. This specific requirement is often requested in oil and gas applications, an area where WEG has a growing reputation for its expertise. WEG’s solution was to provide input harmonic filters for the VSDs to give a lower harmonic performance.

Additionally, the distance from the VSD to the motor was close to half a kilometre, which is not a usual scenario. Longer cable lengths lead to higher IR losses and other issues such as capacitance build up, presenting a threat to the motor winding and lifespan. To address this issue, it was important the VSD was sized correctly and equipped with suitable output filters to mitigate voltage spikes and provide the required protection for the motor.

This was therefore a complex solution, tailored to the specific requirements of the customer, and purpose built at WEG’s manufacturing facility in Brazil. The panels had to be manufactured at one of WEG’s facilities that had been approved by ADNOC.

When the panels arrived in Abu Dhabi, WEG’s engineering and application local support team provided assistance with installation, set-up and commissioning as required by the customer. The team was also available for any support required throughout the life of the installation.

“In recent years we have added significantly to our after-sales support team in the region and this was certainly a factor that has allowed us to deliver both the products and the service that these type of projects require,” added Shejekar.

Extensive testing
The panels will also have to be extensively tested, in line with ADNOC requirements. This will include a factory acceptance test (FAT) as well as a witness test from the customer. For a project such as this, the customer will specify an extensive range of test requirements. Performing these tests is even more difficult given the current restrictions imposed by the global pandemic, but WEG has been able to innovate by providing remote online witnessing of tests for its customers.

A major breakthrough
Being involved on a project for ADNOC is a great opportunity for any company operating in the region, but it is not one that is easily gained. To be trusted by one of the biggest oil and gas companies in the world and earn a place on its approved vendor list (AVL) requires considerable effort, investment and commitment alongside expertise and experience.

In addition to the increasing personnel in Dubai, WEG has partnered with an agent in Abu Dhabi, which has helped to increase the in-country-value score that is essential to getting approval in this case. Positive references from within the oil and gas industry have also contributed. WEG has been a trusted supplier to Saudi Aramco and PDO Oman and has established its reputation in the region through projects such as the Duqm refinery project.

“This project enhances further the reputation of WEG in the region and justifies the investments made over many years. The opportunities we are receiving due to our expertise and reliability of products and services reinforces our position as a major player in the oil and gas sector,” concluded Shejekar.