Welding in the Oil and Gas Industry
The oil and gas industry plays a very important role in the global energy supply as well as the world economy. Many technologies are crucial to the existence and functioning of this multi-billion dollar industry. One of these is welding.
The oil and gas industry utilizes various highly complex infrastructure such as rigs, pipelines, platforms, plants, and facilities. The majority of these infrastructures are created using welding technologies. Welding is critical in oil and gas operations both for the construction of new projects and for the maintenance of existing facilities.
Applications of Welding in Oil and Gas
The oil and gas industry is divided into three major stages of operation. These, which can be referred to as sectors, are Upstream, Midstream, and Downstream. Welding is widely used across all these sectors and its applications can be classified accordingly.
The Upstream sector, also known as E&P (Exploration and Production) covers the exploration, recovery, and production of crude oil and natural gas. It involves drilling oil wells and bringing oil and natural gas to the surface. Operations in the Upstream sector may take place onshore or offshore.
The main application of welding in this sector is the creation of flow and gathering lines as well as support structures. The latter is mainly used in offshore E&P where high strength, stable, and durable mega structures are required to support equipment and facilities right in the ocean and on the sea bed. Structures and equipment created include Jack-up rigs, fixed and floating structures, FPSO (Floating Production Storage and Offloading) systems, and SURF (Subsea Umbilicals Risers Flowlines) systems.
The Midstream sector covers the transportation and storage of extracted crude oil and gas before refining. These involve the use of transmission pipelines and storage vessels created using welding. Transmission pipelines transport crude oil over long distances to storage or refining facilities. They are created using numerous prefabricated individual pipes laid over a course and welded together to form an unbreaking pipeline. Welding is so crucial to the midstream sector that there is a branch of welding known as pipeline welding and special pipe welding equipment. Note that while pipe welding is also applied in the upstream and downstream sectors, it is mostly applied in midstream.
Welding is also used to create storage tanks and transport containers for the midstream sector.
Crude oil cannot be used in its raw form. It first has to be refined into various products before it is distributed to consumers. Refining crude oil in refineries and distributing the finished products are the purposes of the downstream sector. Refineries are plants that comprise complex assemblies of pipes, pressure vessels, furnaces, supporting structures, and other components that all rely on welding for their structural integrity. Welding is also used in the downstream sector for the creation of storage and transport vessels for refined products, and distribution lines for supplying gas directly to consumers.
Benefits of welding in the oil and gas industry
The following are some of the characteristics of welding that are of immense benefit to the oil and gas industry.
A lapse in quality in the oil and gas industry can severely damage the environment and lead to devastating losses of life and money. Welding technologies meet the uncompromisable quality demands of the industry. For example, transmission pipelines, storage vessels, and oil tankers operate at pressures as high as 200 to 1200 Psi. Rigs and platforms usually weigh thousands of tons and are exposed to extreme weather. Also, structures and equipment used in the oil and gas industry are expected to last for many years. Welding is capable of creating durable components that are durable and can withstand extreme pressures, temperatures, weights, and environments.
The benefits of the speed of welding to oil and gas are most apparent in maintenance and repair
Speed is crucial in industries that involve production. This is especially true for the oil and gas industry where minutes of production downtime often translates to losses of thousands of dollars. Welding is a comparatively swift process when carried out by professionals using the right equipment. The benefits of the speed of welding to oil and gas are most apparent in maintenance and repair where production halts may be required. The ease of setting up and the portability of welding equipment enhances the speed of welding. Most of them are compact single component systems that require only a power source.
The successes of many oil and gas projects are dependent on the efficiency of welding as efficiency is key to productivity in the oil and gas industry. Several technologies can be applied to welding to improve efficiency and reduce cost. One of these is automation. Some weld automation equipment presently used are welding positioners, welding manipulators, turning rolls, automatic wire feeders, and robotic welders. Many of the listed automation equipment can increase productivity by 40%.
Other types of equipment that improve productivity, quality, and safety are multi-process welders, induction heaters, and welding fume extractors.
The oil and gas industry has a very wide range of fabrication needs. The versatility of welding technologies perfectly matches this variety of needs.
About size, pipes of different thicknesses, lengths, and diameters can all be fabricated using welding; whether 5 cm diameter flow lines or 3 m diameter trunk pipelines. Welding can also be used to manufacture 400 m rigs as well as small precision equipment. This size versatility is one of the major needs of the oil and gas industry that can only be solved via welding. It is one of the few manufacturing procedures that can produce mega structures.
When it comes to materials, the industry makes use of hundreds of metal grades, a majority of which are compatible with welding technologies. This eliminates any manufacturing restrictions during material selection.
Furthermore, welding is not restricted by environments and can be carried out in the various environments that make up the oil and gas industry. There suitable welding equipment for high altitudes, cold climates, low altitudes, temperate regions, and even several meters under the sea.
Welding is a relatively inexpensive method of fabrication. The cost-effectiveness is further increased through welding rental services which offer thousands of high-quality welding equipment, thereby saving you the cost of buying, storing, and maintaining them. Also, welding doesn’t produce waste materials.
All these immense benefits of welding in oil and gas cannot be harnessed without proper equipment. Red-D-Arc offers a vast range of high-quality equipment that can efficiently handle all the welding requirements of the oil and gas industry. We offer welding, ancillary, and automation equipment from top industry manufacturers on-demand in North America, Europe, and the Middle East.