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Oil & Gas Drilling Sites - Rigging, Servicing and Exploring with Generators

Generator Power Supplied to Drill Rigs & Service Crews in Remote Areas

SWP and Atlas Copco Generators
Anchorage Daily News recently published an article titled "ConocoPhillips Alaska Plans largest exploration Season in 15 years". Drilling rigs can be massive in size and are often used in oil or natural gas extraction wells. Two commonly used styles of drills are:
  • Stationary - Units are constructed in place. Moving takes a great effort.
  • Portable - Can be transported from site to site with minimal effort.
In the 1970's on-site generators were introduced in order to supply electrical power to different components of the drilling rig. Steerable drilling systems were introduced in the 1980's. The year 2000 marked the use of touch screens and joysticks located in a control booth or cockpit. Drill operators are able to precisely control drilling as if it were a video game. Rigs are now able to drill multiple wellheads instead of having several rigs.

Most drilling operations are conducted in locations that do not have an accessible supply to the power grid. Each drilling site has the need for dependable electrical power. Portable generators are easy to move to on or off-site locations.

Recently a large gas and oil company, located in Alaska, purchased five trailer units. These generators will be used in the field by the maintenance division. Generators are to be in service for 24 hour periods in remote areas of Alaska. Extreme weather conditions and flexibility in generator capabilities dictated the need for up-fits. Two new Southwest Products (SWP) generators, and three used Atlas Copco Generators were up-fit.

This article expands on how these Generators provide continuous electrical power for remote drilling and oil and gas service areas. The additions the knowledgeable staff at Diesel Service and Supply completed to accommodate the needs of our customer. The upfit photos are of the SWP generator. Component upfit are the same for the Atlas Copco.  Continue reading below for more specifics or watch the video explaning the customizations that were made.

Generator Up-Fits

To up-fit the SWP QP 220 generator and Atlas Copco QAS 120, the customer worked with experienced staff to create an up-fit list.
This list contains the following information:
  • Customer Contact Information - Name and location of customer, purchase order number and date.
  • Generator information - Manufacturer name, generator model number and quantity of generator sets.
  • Check List - Created in table format. Numerically ordered item list with Date Installed, OK and Notes columns.
As the technician completes the installation of the up-fit, each installed product and the technician signs the document. The technician also completes the notes section for each item. These notes can also include additional work to be completed or installation comments. When the installation is complete an inspector verifies the work and signs the document. This allows us positive control of the unit throughout the up-fit process. The generator set up-fit can be divided into these areas:
  • Electrical System - Upgrades to the electrical system (plugs, breakers etc.).
  • Trailers and Enclosures - Upgrades to the trailer (hitch, cold weather covers, etc.).
  • Mechanical System - Upgrades to engine and mechanical systems (fluids and oil system).

Electrical System

Electrical Upgrades

Up-fits to the electrical system consisted of the following modifications:
  • Dual Arktite motor plugs with two 100 amp breakers (upper left photo). We installed a breaker panel with two 100 amp breakers. The output of the breakers supplies the Arktite motor plugs. This series of motor plugs is a heavy-duty plug used in hazardous and non-hazardous purposes. In addition the plugs offer circuit breaking capability under load (disconnect under load, though NOT ADVISED).
  • Ten Hubble connectors controlled by 350 amp circuit breaker (upper right photo). Cam lock connectors are used for three phase connections. The color code is as follows
    • Black - Phase 1
    • Red - Phase 2
    • Blue - Phase 3
    • White - Neutral
    • Green - Equipment Grounding
  • Lockable master select switch (lower photo). Switch cannot be moved from 208 VAC to 240 VAC with the unit in operation.
  • Battery disconnect switch. Lockable switch that disconnects battery power from generator set.
  • Interlock switch installed onto door that secures cable connections. If the door opens the unit shuts down
The electrical system now has up-graded with Arktite motor plugs and circuit breakers, hubble connectors for three phase connections. Safety options sush as; lockable master switches, battery disconnect switches, and interlock switch protection.

Trailer and Enclosure

Trailer and Enclosure Upgrades

The generator set assembly sits on a dual axle, industrial quality trailer. Up-fits include:
  • Seven pin electrical trailer connectors (top left photo), This connector is the standard for construction vehicles.
  • Safety chains with 3/8" hooks (top left photo). The hooks allow for connection to various styles of bumper systems.
  • Trailer pantile hitch (top left photo). This hitch resembles a ring. Use of this allows for transportation on rough unpaved surfaces.
  • Running lights and beacon to illuminate when generator is running. This allows maintenance person to see if generator is in service at a distance.
  • Wiggins quick change oil couplers. Using this coupler allows a female end to be connected for ease of draining oil into numerous different containers or tanks.
  • Reflective tape around the perimeter of the trailer (bottom left photo). The tape will reflect any light source when unit is running or shut down.
  • Adjustable cold weather covers on intake vents (right photo). These covers can allow partial to no venting depending on weather conditions. 
  • Door open tie downs (right photo). Rubber stop and stud design. When a door opens completely the stud fits snuggly into the stopper. Wind will not blow the door shut.
The trailer and enclosure is upgraded to support standard towing connections that allows transportation over non-paved terrain. It can now run in severe weather conditions without exposing the generator system to snow, ice and rain. Maintenance personnel can see at a distance when running and safety reflectors are installed.

Mechanical System

Engine Systems Upgrades

Up-fits to the mechanical system include:
  • Crankcase ventilation (CCV) hose routing to inside of enclosure feeding drip pan. All engines have CCV valves and hoses. Most route to the outside. This routing prevents debris from entering and keeps all fluids contained in enclosure.
  • Outside fuel capability. This unit has fuel tanks that are accessed inside the enclosure. We added the capability to fuel the unit from outside the unit.
  • Changed from Delco Peak to Delco Extend life antifreeze. Increased cylinder liner protection and for use in off road applications.
  • Mechanical hour meter installed (right photo). This hour meter has electrical inputs but is a mechanical movement. This is used in the event the control panel led malfunctions or fails.
  • Murphy Oil Level Maintainer installation (left photo). This system maintains the engine crankcase oil level. Oil is added into the filler until it reads between the green lines. When the engine crankcase runs low on oil the maintainer supplies the oil. When the maintainer oil level reaches a low set point the engine will shut down.
The mechanical systems up-grades allow for easy fueling, redundant hour meter, upgraded antifreeze and Murphy oil system. With the additions to all of the systems, this generator is ready to meet customer demands in extreme weather conditions.
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