The Oil and Gas sector in Australia is heavily exposed to the export market. As such revenue is highly volatile and follows price movements in supply and demand. This volatility impacts production decisions, highlighting the importance of reliability in this area. Ensuring the electrical distribution network is available and safe is dependent on the condition of the existing infrastructure.
The electrical distribution network is often overlooked in maintenance schedules and asset management planning. By the time your plant has experienced a power disruption as a result of aging infrastructure it is already too late.
The Oil and Gas industry operates in what are inherently harsh environments. Factors such as temperature, humidity and the presence of corrosive agents, as well as the operation conditions experienced by the electrical equipment, can have an effect on the reliability of the distribution network. Increased stress can result in equipment failure and unplanned downtime.
Aged electrical infrastructure, ie, equipment that is 25 years or older; can be a weakness in the electrical distribution network and can be the cause of unplanned failure. Complete replacement is an option, however it causes significant disruption to day-to-day operations.
Modernisation of electrical equipment is the proactive approach to ensure the electrical distribution system remains available and achieves the highest possible standard, as well as ensuring the safety of people and equipment. The core of modernisation is to retrofit the aging infrastructure, rather undertaking than a complete replacement.
By modernising the critical devices within the switchgear rather than the whole switchboard, investment of existing assets are maximised and significant cost savings in the order of approximately 50% are achieved when compared to total cost of replacing the entire switchboard. The operational life of the existing assets is also increased.
Modernisation also shifts the financial model from capital expenditure of switchboard replacement to operational expenditure that can be incorporated in the maintenance budget or as part of a services contract.
Modernisation also lends itself to a “roll-out; roll-in” phasing program supporting maintenance budget allocation and availability, as well as improving maintenance planning schedules and reducing downtime.
Lack of availability of spare parts for legacy or aging electrical equipment during times of unplanned shutdown is an issue that can be easily avoided by modernisation. Modernising the assets ensures quality spare parts are available.
The introduction of new technology brings with it improved performance and additional features that can be used to monitor the health of electrical equipment. It assists in improving maintainability and diagnosing trends in the equipment before failure.
An active modernisation program enhances safety of the facility. The modernisation program will detect any faults or deteriorated equipment as a result of age, environment or operation.
Electrical distribution systems left unchecked or in poor condition as a result of lack of maintenance for prolonged periods of time exposes both equipment and people to unsafe and avoidable risk. The consequences of aged faulty oil filled switchgear or incorrect operation under fault conditions have the potential for catastrophic failure resulting in arc flash and potentially fire.
Schneider Electric has extensive expertise in the area of modernisation for aged or faulty oil filled switchgear. To get the most out of your existing electrical distribution assets with minimal shutdown, contact Schneider Electric.