Condition Monitoring of Reciprocating Compressors in Oil and Gas

Amir Basyouni, Head of Condition Monitoring, Amoc Refinery


Reciprocating compressors are one of the most serious and expensive asset in the plant, these types of machines can provide higher compression ratio than similar axial or centrifugal compressors, however reciprocating compressors are more costly to maintain and suffering from high essential drawback. In spite of the criticality and importance of the reciprocating compressor, they are sometimes unobserved by condition monitoring team simply because their typical and primary PDM tool (FFT portable vibration analyser) which is routinely used on rotating equipment is not well suited for reciprocating machines. They have been unsuccessfully monitoring the reciprocating machines for many years, therefore the overall machine health is frequently ignored and not diagnosed correctly until damage occurs and it became too late to save the machine from failure.  In the same time, experience and statistical studies show that reciprocating compressors also consume times as maintenance cost of counterpart centrifugal or axial machines in the plant, consequently many companies spend more money on maintenance, repair and down times than it would cost to predict failure and eliminate the root cause on these critical machines. That approach could allow for maintenance to plan their activities around CBM rather than follow run to failure strategy.
The main goal of Reliability and condition monitoring team is not only to protect their reciprocating machines from catastrophic failure by using tradition protection system and vibration overall trending, but also predict, diagnose any abnormality in the equipment and sustain reliability which could be achieved by monitoring all machine components simultaneously, recording the performance, operation parameters, suitable vibration software, overall health, and lubrication as well.
Reciprocating compressor condition monitoring systems must achieve the level of condition monitoring that centrifugal equipment users have implemented for decades.
-Reciprocating compressor design and advantage
-Understand the nature of forces in a Reciprocating machine
-Reciprocating compressor failure modes and maintenance cost
-Reciprocating compressors monitoring in API 670
-Reciprocating compressor Diagnostics and best practices


A professional Reliability and Condition Monitoring Expert, I have more than 12 years’ experience in Reliability solutions, condition monitoring, Lubrication Program and Rotor dynamics for rotating equipment across a diverse range of industries such as gas production/liquefaction (LNG), petrochemicals, refinery, fertilizer, ammonia, mining and gas, and power stations.