Electric actuators used in solar-powered automation project

  • Industry: Oil & Gas - Upstream Exploration & Production
  • Category: Electric Actuators, Services
  • Products: IQ - Standard, Extended Scope


The water gathering system in an oilfield water management plant was in need of improvements for enhanced control and efficiency. Rotork provided individual solar panels with control stations and Rotork IQ3 actuators in order to meet these requirements.


A major US oilfield water management company requested help to develop solar-powered control stations for some of its water gathering pipelines in West Texas and New
Mexico. Water, a by-product of oil and gas production, requires careful management. Often known as ‘produced water’, the product is the largest volume waste stream associated with upstream petroleum operations.

At most oil shale fields produced water from wells is gathered via a pipeline infrastructure to transfer it to temporary storage at either a disposal well location or a central treatment facility.


In order to improve its water gathering operation, the customer worked with automation equipment supplier Wolseley Industrial Group to investigate automated valve technology to control the flow in the high-pressure pipelines.

The customer had specific requirements for the valve application including the need to control system pressure to and from the well sites, shutdown lines in the event of a leak or other failure, and to eliminate high maintenance devices such as air compressors and other rotating equipment.


With a lack of available gas and electricity in the isolated locations, the use of solar power to control pipeline flow was seen as the most effective alternative. It soon became clear that electricity would have to be generated at each control station installed along the water gathering pipelines, so Rotork was contacted to provide IQ3 intelligent electric multi-turn actuators and solar panels to power them.

The customer wanted valves and actuators every five miles in areas which were off the grid, so a solution combining individual solar panels with control stations and Rotork IQ3 actuators was devised by Wolseley Industrial Group. Each control station includes an IQ3 actuator to control either a 12 or 16 inch ball valve and each assembly is fitted with solar panels to power either a 24, 48 or 120 VDC motor.

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