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Oil and gas companies are venturing into colder, more remote locations in their search for attainable oil and gas reserves. In many instances, extracting these “harder to reach” reserves requires power intensive unconventional methods. Heaters, drill rigs, compressors, pumps, and other exploration and production equipment required for the exploration and production operations can amount to hundreds of megawatts. To supply these large loads, oil and gas companies are using electric power at higher voltage levels and installing their own transmission and distribution substations and, in some cases, their own transmission and distribution network. Historically, substation designs were based on previous engineering experience and knowledge. Given the challenges associated with frontier extreme weather locations, defaulting to traditional designs may be a flawed approach. This paper discusses different aspects to consider in the development and installation of remote high-voltage substations in very cold conditions, with emphasis on a few key criteria: personnel safety and environmental issues, reliability and availability, low maintenance, remote monitoring and control, equipment and material suitable for cold environment, and cost effectiveness. Other considerations such as unique end-user requirements, qualified labor resources, logistics challenges, and cost optimization will also be discussed. A methodology incorporating the aforementioned factors will be offered for selecting a substation solution for a large oil and gas facility in a cold and remote location.
Date of Publication: May-June 2011