Optimized operation of gas turbines is discussed for a fleet of eleven LM2500PE engines at a Statoil North Sea offshore field in Norway. Three engines are generator drivers while eight engines are compressor drivers. Several of the compressor drive engines run at peak load (T5.4 control), hence production rate is limited by the available power from these engines. The majority of the engines discussed run continuously without redundancy, hence gas turbine uptime is critical for the field’s production and economy. The performance and operational experience with upgraded inlet air filter systems, as well as successful operation at longer maintenance intervals and higher average engine performance are described.

For North Sea operation, a key property of the filter system is the ability to handle high humidity and high salt-content, typical of the harsh environment in these waters. The upgraded filter system analyzed in this paper is a 2-stage system (vane separator stage upstream of the high-efficiency filter stage), which is a simplified design versus the old traditional 3-stage systems (louvre upstream and vane separator downstream of the filter stage). These 2-stage systems rely on an efficient upstream vane separator to remove the vast majority of water from the airflow before it reaches the high-efficiency filters. The high-efficiency filters are specially designed to withstand moisture. The effectiveness and contribution of each component in the filtration system are described. Extensive testing of both new and used filter elements, of different filter grade and operated at different intervals, has been performed in a filter test rig facility onshore. Extensive testing of used filters has also been performed at the filter OEM, where filter efficiency is measured as well as destructive testing and analysis of the filter layers.

The effect of an optimized air intake filter system for the subject engines, is longer operating intervals, higher power availability and lower engine deterioration. The operating intervals are now extended to six months (4,000 hours), from initially two months (1,500 hours, early 1990s) then four months (3,000 hours, mid 2000s). The HPC efficiency deterioration is reduced by some 3% related to intake filter system, of a total of over 6% in efficiency deterioration over each 6-month operating period.

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