by W. Norm Shade, PE
With the wide-spread use of high-speed separable reciprocating compressors throughout the oil and natural gas industry, the GMRC has been active in developing better guidelines and practices for the specification, design and application of this type of compression equipment. Two documents were developed in previous multi-year projects. First, was the GMRC Guideline for High-Speed Reciprocating Compressor Packages for Natural Gas Storage and Transmission Applications that was released in October 2013. Then came the GMRC Guideline and Recommended Practice for Control of Torsional Vibrations in Direct-Driven Separable Reciprocating Compressors released in 2015.
These guidelines, which have been well-received by the industry, focused on the large compressors used in gas pipeline and storage applications. However, compressor operators and packagers pointed out the need for a guideline that was more specifically tailored to the unique requirements of smaller, field gas compressor packages. The GMRC responded with the development and recent completion of the GMRC High-Speed Compressor Package Guideline for Field Gas Applications.
The upstream compression sector currently applies high-speed (up to 1800 rpm) reciprocating and rotary screw compressor packages that range from about 50 to 2000 horsepower (HP). Field gas applications, which include wellhead gas gathering and boosting, gas lift, central gas gathering, etc., have a number of characteristics that are not addressed in the 2013 GMRC Guideline. These include the need to handle wet and dirty gas; wider variations in gas composition including sour (H2S), CO2 and N2 content; on-skid fuel gas conditioning; high pressure ratios requiring multiple compression stages with gas intercooling; compacted crushed gravel or caliche pad foundations; engine accessory end drives for auxiliary equipment; portability; outdoor unenclosed or partially enclosed packages; and integrated enclosures for cold weather applications.
Field gas compressor packages are commonly installed on compacted gravel or caliche pads without buildings. Application requirements are much different than larger gas transmission pipeline compressors.
The new GMRC field gas compressor package guideline was developed in cooperation with the Gas Compressor Association (GCA). It is the culmination of a two-year effort led by Cambridge, Ohio based ACI Services Inc., which was also the contractor for the two previous GMRC guidelines.
Like the previous Guidelines, the development of the new GMRC High-Speed Compressor Package Guideline for Field Gas Applications was an extensive collaborative project that involved fifty-eight (58) individuals from forty-one (41) different companies. The document provides an extensive set of guidelines and best practices for package selection, integration, design, installation, commissioning, and operation.
Please visit the GMRC website for more information: https://gmrc.org/.