Q: Why is Oilfield lightning protection Important?
A: Simple- lost production. Any time even a pumping unit goes down, the field is not being produced to its maximum. From most important to least important, lightning protection needs to be provided for tank batteries, disposal pumps and motors, ESPs, VFDs running ESPs, and pumping units.
Q: IS IT ONLY LOST PRODUCTION?
A: No. Equipment replacement and installation, i.e. rigs and crews, are an added expense. ESPs are expensive because no one has figured out how to wind a five-inch diameter motor 35 feet long with a machine; a lot of manual labor is involved.
Q: Why is it difficult to calculate a payback for lightning protection?
A: That involves a list. Lightning is random, oil companies do not keep good records of electrical failures, oilfields change owners, owners change ESP companies and different electrician may service the same field.
Q: Are there other causes of electrical failures?
A: Certainly. Dirty power, i.e. voltage levels that exceed acceptable levels up and down, is a major cause. Other causes are poor cable splices, manufacturing defects and poor quality components. The latter are referred to a materials and workmanship.
Q: I have a motor controller. Isn’t that enough?
A: No. Motor controllers protect against a number of problems with the 60-Hz electric power. A motor must be protected from over-current, under current or power (pump off) and loss of a phase (single phasing). Lack of fluid flow past a motor will cause it to over heat. TVSS protects against transient voltages only, lightning and switching surges. People often confuse lightning protection with basic motor operation protection.