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Currently, there is no comprehensive specification document for the purposes of procuring, designing and applying large, high-speed compressor packages. For example, the API 618 pulsation and vibration standard only applies to low-speed compressors, leaving confusion in the marketplace about what standard should be applied to high-speed units. In the absence of a standard, many units are fabricated without a proper amount of analysis. In particular, the range of potential operating conditions is typically not adequately explored during the selection, procurement or manufacturing processes. The former API 11P (no longer in print) and the current ISO 13631, intended primarily for field gas compressors, provide no in-depth guidance in many of the areas of concern. Neither fully provides the more comprehensive direction intended in this Design Guideline.

In 2011, GMRC identified the need for a specification or guideline to address the foregoing concerns. ACI Services, Inc. was selected as the contractor for the supporting investigations and the development of this GMRC Design Guideline for High-Speed Reciprocating Compressor Packages for Natural Gas Transmission & Storage Applications.

The research and data collection phase for development of this Guideline involved the interviews of more than 100 people at 12 end user companies, 5 compressor OEMs, 2 engine OEMs, 1 electric motor OEM, 4 packagers, 4 engineering services company and 1 foundation engineering company. In addition, 11 pipeline or storage field sites were inspected, covering a total of 30 different high-speed compressors. From this information a long list of problems, solutions, preferences and suggested practices have been documented and serve as the foundation for development of this Guideline. An extensive literature search was also conducted to evaluate what existing material could be cited and referenced in the Guideline.

This Guideline is not a specification and therefore defines only recommended practices, not mandatory requirements. It is intended to provide the end user and operator with more reliable procedures and references for selecting, specifying, procuring, applying and operating high-speed units with more predictable and reliable results, and it provides packagers with a more comprehensive and detailed guideline for designing and building high-speed compressor packagers that meet customer and equipment OEM expectations. While portions of this document may be applicable to gathering and midstream applications, the principal use is targeted for higher horsepower (≥2000 hp), high-speed (≥700 rpm), highly flexible, low ratio gas transmission compressor applications and versatile gas storage and withdrawal applications. A significant part of this document provides a tutorial on how to handle specific aspects of large compressor package specification, procurement and design.

A specification is a communication document. There are lots of unspoken expectations. If the specification can bring them to light, it will be effective. This Guideline is not intended to be an all-inclusive specification. There are many features that are project, end user and packager specific, and some end users and packagers have their own preferred designs and standards. It is beyond the scope of this Guideline to reconcile every last detail of a potential specification. Unlike API, ISO and ASME, the GMRC does not issue standards and official specifications. The information contained herein provides a set of guidelines and recommended practices, and it is also intended to serve as a tutorial for the design, installation and operation of high-speed reciprocating compressor packages for natural gas transmission and storage applications. End users are encouraged to use the information in this Guideline to develop their own detailed specifications.
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