Injection Pumps Provide Reliability for Natural Gas Liquids Producer


Horizontal split-case pumps from KSB to transfer gas from storage wells to the pipeline.

The BB3 horizontally split-case API pump is used extensively by pipeline companies operating in the shale gas, Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) and Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) markets, where there is currently a large volume of activity and a growing need for new capacity and for older plants to upgrade their capacity to move more volume.

“BB3 pumps are used within terminals to transfer the gas into the pipelines from storage wells,” explains Standard Alloys Managing Director Richard Martinez. “These pipelines employ pump stations at various intervals along their length, and many of these pumps are now coming to the end of their service lives. However, there is no desire to replace what are essentially redundant pumps with new units. This would represent a massive capital investment. The last thing that they want to do is to change drivers, put in new foundations and change piping connections to accommodate new designs.”

The most cost effective and efficient solution is to install a bareshaft pump that can be easily dropped into the existing infrastructure where operators know that the nozzles, casing feet and shaft couplings will fit first time.

KSB company Standard Alloys, based in Southeast Texas is a machined parts and repair services manufacturer, providing terminal and pipeline operators with a direct pump replacement that features engineered upgrades to sustain their operations. A high priority for operators is having the flexibility to be able to enhance the reliability and maintenance of their existing facilities with a direct replacement using the latest technology.

“Operators are looking for very short deliveries, because when they pull a pump out they want to be able to drop a replacement in and not have a bunch of downtime to reconfigure the infrastructure,” Martinez said. “Paramount in their minds is quality, and we have been certified to ISO 9001 since 1997. We have a good quality program in place. It is an unwritten requirement to have this certification, and if we didn’t have it operators would not be talking to us.”

Targa Resources Corp., Houston Texas is a leading provider of mid-stream services and is one of the largest independent midstream energy companies in North America. In October 2015, Targa installed a BB3-UI pump for the specific duty of injecting Ethane Propane Mix (EP) into storage wells at the plant’s salt dome. The double volute, 8-stage split case centrifugal pump is fitted with 10.187-inch closed impellers and provides a flow of 1,200 gpm running at 4,000 rpm, with a suction pressure of 260 psig and a total developed head of 3,800 ft. The pump can graduate from moving a product of specific gravity 0.5 all the way down to 0.38, which gives Targa the ability to move heavier end products.

As a result, this pump provides great flexibility, making it an economic solution for the refinery. Installed on an existing product train, the pump has been built specifically for this application and is the first of three to be installed.

“Essentially, we were given the flow parameters and head capacities, so we went into our database to see what we had that was closest to the specification,” Martinez said. “We found a closely-matched pump and used this as a platform to then custom build the flow and head required. What we came up with was a special package that went beyond the generic specification typically found in API-610. It had to fit the same foundation as the pump that it was replacing, so a custom base was designed to facilitate a perfect fit.”

Martinez said his company had already supplied similar pumps for transfer duties, but this one was specifically engineered for well injection. “We have supplied Targa with services that have involved brine pumps, cooling tower pumps, ME process pumps and transfer duty pumps ahead of the ones that go into the pipelines running out to West Texas. This particular order was a new application, and a pump simply did not exist. So we built one specifically for the application”

Steve Ferguson, Rotating Maintenance Supervisor at the Targa Resources plant emphasized the importance of extreme reliability needed for this application. “Standard Alloys is a very important vendor for Mont Belvieu,” Ferguson said. “It is a necessity that we have reliability, quality and workmanship. As their name implies, they understand alloys and chemistry, together with the manufacturing and production of raw materials from which to build components.”

“Pump reliability is all-important as our customers operate in a highly competitive market. It is all about delivering products on time,” Ferguson said. Weekly and monthly maintenance inspections are implemented by Ferguson’s reliability team. Ferguson said that the new injection pump has replaced a standby pump that had met its service life. For various reasons associated with the casing, it had to be condemned. Standard Alloys was selected as the vendor based on the engineering, quality and quick delivery that they offered and provided for this application.

For many years Standard Alloys’ core business was in manufacturing replacement pump parts, such as impellers, shafts cases and covers. In 1992 this changed when the company made and sold its first complete bareshaft pump. Since then they have built a substantial business in producing API qualified bareshaft replacement pumps for brownfield and greenfield applications in the US oil and gas industry, exploiting opportunities where an existing pump may be obsolete or where there is a need for material or engineering upgrades.

Capitalizing on its successes, a new portfolio of BB3 API-standard bareshaft pumps has been developed. “Our target is pump operators that may have seventh or eighth generation API pumps that need replacing with a direct ‘drop-in’ that hits all the touch points,” Martinez said. “They don’t want to change the foundation due to the casing foot location, modify the suction and discharge nozzles. They also do not want to relocate the drive unit. They want the same hydraulic fit within their existing block.”

The manufacturer is not looking to develop a strict replacement product line for BB3 pumps, but to develop a custom fit, bareshaft pump that exactly meets individual customer’s needs. “We are customer-centric and are in the business of manufacturing pumps that are specific to each customer’s operating requirements,” Martinez said. “We are working with two sets of customers. First, there are those who are operating an older unit and are looking to increase the rate beyond that for which it was originally designed. Then there are those working on both brownfield and greenfield operations where everybody involved in drawing up the specification has added their safety factors resulting in a pump being delivered to the operator it is far bigger than originally intended.”

Standard Alloys’ approach provides the capability to work to much shorter lead times than companies offering standard range pumps which then have to be customized for the application—a process than extends availability and delivery time frames.

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