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SKF S2M magnetic bearings equip the first ever subsea gas compression system at the Statoil-operated Åsgard gas field near the Norwegian coast. SKF S2M 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 S2M’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 S2M Magnetic Mechatronics Subsea Manager. Compressing gas on a subsea installation is a significant step forward for the oil and gas sector. SKF S2M magnetic bearings enable the gas compression system to be completely oil-free, exceptionally reliable.”

SKF S2M 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 S2M’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 S2M 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.

From installation summer 2013 Åsgard subsea factory with Saipem 7000.Subsea Compressor Manifold Station