Pump jack for extracting underground crude oil (image source: Kokhanchikov@shutterstock.com)

Controller and monitoring solution for pump systems

  • Intuitive operating concepts for industrial applications
  • IP65-protected IPCs for use in harsh ambient conditions
  • Individually configurable IPCs for demanding applications

The project at a glance

  • The Colombian company Variadores develops electric submersible and water injection pumps for the oil industry.
  • The users in this industry place particular requirements on the systems in terms of flexibility and availability.
  • The controller solution installed in the pumps based on a Linux-based industrial PC is powerful, open for new technologies such as ML and AI, and can be programmed easily with Python.
  • Because of the international presence of Variadores and Phoenix Contact in terms of delivery and support, the innovative pump systems are experiencing a steadily increasing demand worldwide.
Variadores facility in Medellin

Variadores has around 300 employees in Colombia

At home in the oil and gas industry

Variadores SAS, headquartered in Medellin in Colombia, provides solutions for power transmission, speed control, and motion control based on frequency converters and drive motors. Along with industry, trade, mining, and solar applications, the company active in South America and the Caribbean also focuses on the oil and gas industry.

HPS for injecting wastewater

The wastewater is injected into the oil mineral deposits using hydraulic pump systems

Control technology for pump jacks

In more than 90 percent of all global sources, the mineral deposit pressure is insufficient for the oil to reach the surface by itself, or at least in sufficient quantities. This is where pump jacks come into play. These pump jacks may incorporate line shaft pumps, progressive capacity pumps, hydraulic or electric submersible pumps (ESP). Frequency converters with integrated PLCs are used in ESP systems for controlling the speed to ensure the pumps work at their most efficient. Moreover, the frequency converters are also responsible for flood control in the extraction pit.

Discharging non-domestic wastewater containing hydrocarbons into the sewer system has been banned in Colombia since 2010. The local oil companies therefore inject the wastewater into the mineral deposits using horizontal pump systems (HPS). This means that the wastewater is not merely disposed of, but also stimulates the mineral deposits which increases the production volumes. Frequency converters with built-in controllers are also used in the HPS systems.

Future-proof and high-level availability

For nearly a decade, Variadores has been developing controllers for ESP and HPS pumps that are designed for a mission time of between 10 and 15 years. The company began designing a new controller generation in 2018. The following requirements had to be considered in this context:

  • Minimization of risks, such as premature technological obsolescence, the use of insufficiently developed hardware, and the lack of flexibility and openness of the software
  • The CPU also has to be able to execute complex mathematical operations
  • Creation of a forecasting system that supports machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI)
  • High-level language programming, plus the ability for several developers to write code for a project simultaneously
  • Portability of the controller program to other hardware
  • Use of specialist data science software
  • Option for a modular, extendable architecture
  • High system availability despite transients and surge voltages.
Industrial PC of the Valueline product family

The pumps are controlled and monitored – for example for overloads, underloads, and vibration – via the Valueline industrial PC.

To be able to satisfy these framework conditions, the Variadores development team set up the Quantum ESP and Quantum HPS projects, in which the corresponding products were to be available two years after the start of the project. Phoenix Contact participated as the technology partner by providing industrial PCs (IPCs) of the Valueline product family as well as a range of other devices. The IPCs, based on the open Linux operating system, also support Python. This is a high-level programming language that is ideally suited for machine learning, AI, data science, and visualization, and also enables user-friendly system integration. Ethernet bus couplers and I/O components from the modular Axioline system can also be adapted flexibly to meet the respective requirements. QUINT power supplies and Trabtech surge protection systems ensure reliable operation, as well as protection against surge voltages and transients, while measuring devices monitor energy consumption.

Worldwide service

The experience and creativity of the Variadores development team, combined with the openness, flexibility, and reliability of the components and systems from Phoenix Contact, resulted in an innovative solution for the special requirements of the oil and gas industry. The Quantum ESP and HPS versions defy even the harshest ambient conditions, such as high temperatures, moisture, and dust. Moreover, the solution is compatible with various industrial communication systems and devices from other manufacturers. Due to the international positioning of both companies, global supply and the corresponding services are guaranteed.