The Sultanate of Oman (Oman) is a country in the Middle East, located on the southeastern tip of the Arabian Peninsula. As with many countries in this region of the world, Omani economy is largely dependent upon the production of oil and gas.

Its neighbors—the United Arab Emirates on the northwest, Saudi Arabia on the west, and Yemen on the southwest—all benefit from huge deposits of easily retrievable light oil. Oman, however, is a relatively small country with maturing oilfields and finite reserves. Its proven reserves are being depleted, limiting future production to the extraction of largely unexploited heavy oil in formations in the hot, arid regions of its interior.

In recent years, Petroleum Development Oman (PDO), the country’s dominant energy company, has embarked on a drive to reverse Oman’s declining oil production and improve the country’s future outlook by diverting its focus onto enhanced oil recovery (EOR) methods. Among these methods: steam injection technology, in which heavy viscous oil is thermally stimulated to improve recovery. This technology is increasingly becoming more common and has been used successfully elsewhere in the Middle East, North America, China, Russia and South America.

Such efforts are now underway in an oil field on Oman’s vast gravel desert plain—a full-scale steam injection project that partners EN-FAB, Inc., and WEG Electric Corp.

Because of its expertise, EN-FAB, Inc. was contracted to design and install 100-million-BTU steam generators in the oil field. Based in Houston, Texas, EN-FAB specializes in the design, engineering, and fabrication of surface equipment for the oil and gas industry. Since 2006, WEG has delivered 34 motor control packages now in use by EN-FAB to control multiple motors on each of the steam generators.

“WEG is one of our major vendors because we have had a good working history with them on other steam generation projects throughout the world,” said Chandra S. Tripathy, President of EN-FAB, Inc. “Their commitment to us is evident throughout all aspects of their equipment production—from engineering design, to on-time deliveries, to post-sale support of their installed products. Also, WEG is the only motor and drive equipment we would trust in this harsh environment.”

To date, EN-FAB has specified WEG’s CFW-09 Series variable frequency (VF) drives and customized control packages with direct on line (DOL) starting, to help run the main and booster pumps that supply water to the steam generators, as well as the large fans for combustion air to the burner assembly. Since the WEG motor/drive combination has worked so well, EN-FAB has asked other equipment vendors to supply two- and four-pole WEG motors on their equipment to complement the use of the WEG VF drives and controls.

What makes WEG motors, drives, and controls EN-FAB’s products of choice in Oman?

“It’s their ruggedness and their ability to operate at differing voltages and frequencies,” says Michael Smith, WEG’s Automation Sales Engineer. “The location of the field presents unrelenting challenges for motors and drives, and the equipment they power. In Oman, ambient desert temperatures can reach 129 degrees (Fahrenheit) in the hot season and sand storms are prevalent.”

In these conditions, Smith notes, it is critical to have “rugged, low-maintenance motors, variable frequency drives, and control packages capable of reliable and repeatable performance.”

The WEG CFW-09 series of VF drives features Vectrue Technology™ and is among the world’s most advanced technology in drives for three-phase AC induction motors. The series provides users with the benefits of software selectable V/F, sensorless vector, and closed loop vector (with encoder) control techniques in one product.

WEG’s involvement in large recovery projects, such as the one in Oman, is helping change its perception as just a manufacturer of electric motors, to that of a global provider and supplier of complete automation solutions. In the beginning of 2008, the project in Oman had reached a target of 32,000 barrels of oil with only six steam generators on line.

“Because there is a direct correlation between the amount of steam injected into the formation and the amount of oil recovered, production should increase proportionally as EN-FAB brings additional steam generators on line,” said Smith. “In the meantime, WEG will continue our commitment to provide them with rugged motor, drive, and control solutions, as well as with the personnel and field support they can depend on to continue to achieve their target production goals.”