mtu engines power fracking pumps operated by Packer Service in western Siberian oil fields
Posted on November 24, 2016
Where trucks, heavy equipment transporters and company-owned buses emblazoned with well-known names such as Surgutneftegas, Rosneft or Gazpromneft rumble past, then you can be sure one thing is not very far away — the substance that keeps today’s world on the move — oil. Exploration service providers, such as Russia’s Packer Service, are ensuring that it can be extracted efficiently. The most important machines to get the job done are fracking pumps, driven by robust, heavy-duty mtu engines.
We have to rely completely on the equipment we work with. With equipment from mtu, we know that the engines will continue to operate at minus 45 degrees Celsius.
Lots of experience in the oil & gas market
Packer Service LLC, which is based in Moscow, was founded in 2006. The company provides a wide range of services in the field of well servicing, testing and completion. Business is going well: For its fracking business alone, Packer Service operates three fleets with a total of 35 mobile pump systems. Each fracking pumper consists of a pump, power transmission and a high-performance mtu engine, which drives the pump. Vasily Kebak, project manager for fracking applications at Packer Service, has been working with engines from the company based in Friedrichshafen, Germany for 20 years now. These were initially engines from Detroit Diesel, then later from mtu. “In Russia, we extract oil under extremely difficult conditions,“ says Kebak. Only thanks to the permafrost soil, the ground can be walked on and structures can be built on it. If the ground should warm up, however, all the buildings and infrastructure will sink into the soft, muddy soil that results. Pumping systems tend to wear out very quickly under these conditions and it is very time-consuming and expensive to get any structures built at all. This is because all structures that radiate heat have to be insulated. “For us, therefore, the highest priority must be given to preparing the boreholes as quickly and as smoothly as possible,“ Kebak adds. “This means that we have to rely completely on the equipment we work with. With equipment from mtu, we know that the engines will continue to operate at minus 45 degrees Celsius. It’s the only way we can offer our customers the reliable service they need to extract the oil efficiently.“
Engines designed specifically for frac jobs
The unit may be used for a wide variety of fluid pumping operations. Typical operations include proppant hydraulic fracturing, acid fracturing, high-pressure pumping, solvent pumping, liquid carbon dioxide pumping and pressure testing. The engines supplied by mtu are ideally suited to such operations — the company has supplied power solutions for the oil and gas market for years, and also for both on- and offshore applications. These include engines used for power generation and for tough drilling and well servicing applications under the most extreme conditions. Around 33,000 mtu Series 4000 engines are currently in use worldwide and have already accumulated over 13 million operating hours in fracking operations alone. As a result of the engine‘s high power output of up to 1,865 kW (2,500 bhp), frac jobs can be completed faster than ever — a key aspect in an industry in which any delay costs money. The engines also have a very good power to weight ratio and deliver high output even at low rpm. For very dynamic operating conditions, the engines are designed so that maximum torque is reached as low as 1,500 rpm.
A lot has been done in the past few years in our region in terms of the service provided by mtu. Spare parts arrive very fast, for example. It’s an obvious benefit when choosing an engine supplier.
High demands expected of pump drives
The exploration team normally requires five days to complete the preparation work at the borehole. Its job is to pump thousands of liters of fracturing fluid — a gel-like liquid consisting mainly of water and special quartz sand — at this point to a depth of 3,700 meters into the ground. This improves the oil flow and simplifies the extraction process. In the “Data Control and Acquisition Unit“ — a process control center incorporated in the container with an unrestricted view of the borehole – Packer Service and mtu technicians monitor the pumping process via the instrumentation and control system. Before the gensets can be started, however, the preheater systems mounted on the fracturing pump unit first have to bring the coolants and operating oils under freezing conditions up to normal running temperature. Then it’s all systems go – delivering up to 1,680 kW (2,253 bhp) at 1,900 rpm, the mtu 12V 4000 S83 engine drives the high-pressure plunger pump via an automatic powershift transmission system. This successively forces the fracking fluid through the borehole at up to 700 bar pressure, at first vertically and then in the rock further below horizontally, into the ground. The Neftyaniki – that‘s the name for oil drillers in Russian – need a lot of experience. This is because the right consistency of the fluid that is mixed on the spot and the timing of the various pressure stages have to be spot on.
The fracking pumps, the blenders, the high pressure manifold and all the additional systems needed for the complex frac treatment process are manufactured by KATT GmbH, formerly C. A. T., in the production facilities of its subsidiary GOES GmbH.
Reliable operation with on the spot service
Severe snowstorms and hefty winds that completely prevent access to remote areas are common here in Siberia — situations that are handled with typical Russian composure. To ensure that in critical situations expensive downtime in the material handling systems are avoided — when spare parts or service technicians for example cannot get to the site quickly enough — Packer Service decided to opt for a preventive maintenance concept from mtu, which is directly linked to the service provided by GOES, the manufacturers. This includes all scheduled maintenance work on the engine. Critical components are replaced, for example, even before there is a malfunction. If the prescribed maintenance intervals are adhered to, the engines will run for up to 13,500 operating hours before they need to be overhauled — to ensure they can provide an extremely high level of availability.
The concept developed by mtu’s partner RIG Service and the customer service technicians from GOES is being implemented locally. Since 2014, the team has established itself in the western Siberian region and is responsible for ensuring that the maintenance and overhaul work on the engines is carried out. “A lot has been done in the past few years in our region in terms of the service provided by mtu. With the regional partners and the service support provided by mtu and GOES from Germany, we have a direct link if we should have any questions,“ explains Vasily Kebak. This service model from mtu and GOES was optimized specifically for Siberian customers. “This means for example that spare parts arrive very fast. It’s an obvious benefit when choosing an engine supplier.“