Renowned for being the largest economic sector around the world, the oil and gas industry offers many welding opportunities in an effort to provide energy throughout the globe. The oil and gas industry can be segmented into three phases; upstream which involves the exploration of natural gas fields, midstream which transfers the crude oil and natural gas and downstream which filters the raw materials from the upstream phase.
Welding in the oil and gas sector consists of using welding equipment to fuse metals across multiple different sites such as pipelines, rigs, facilities and plants. Common duties welders undertake include derrick and pump jack repair, working on pipeline systems, shutting in or closing off a producing well and installations. Working in a dangerous environment, it is vital that welders understand the difficult mechanical and environmental conditions this will allow them to ensure that safety is paramount.
This article explores the difficulties faced by welders working in the oil and gas industry.
Stable oil prices and technical equipment advancements have created continuous growth for the oil and gas sector. This has offered the opportunity for energy companies to invest in unique energy fields ranging from shale and oil sands to offshore fields in water depths of up to 1500 metres.
This recent expansion has also created difficulties regarding welding practices within the industry. One recent issue surrounds the welding technique used during the 1970s on oil and gas pipelines, this technique is known as low-frequency, electric-resistance welding. A recent survey of the 182,500 miles of liquid fuel pipelines across the US found that 25% contained the inferior welding practice, this presented an issue as the weld has been found to lead to seam-type failure. In an effort to combat pipe rupture, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) suggest pumping water through pipes at high pressure to detect weak sections that need to be fixed with efficient welding.
It has been predicted that from 2014-2019 there will be an additional 270,000km of pipeline installed with expenditure expected to reach up to $216 billion. The largest limiting factor with pipeline lifespan is corrosion. Corrosion has been partly combatted using Corrosion Resistance Alloy (CRA), but the welding process is crucial to further prevent the corrosion of CRA clad pipes. Correct welding can not only increase lifespan but can also reduce the amount of maintenance needed and reduce failure rates. Another issue surrounding oil and gas pipe welding is the incorporation of Pipeline End Terminators (PLETs) and Pipeline End Manifolds (PLEMs), these structures require tight bends which can cause difficulty for welders. Innovative inspection technology is currently being developed to help combat poor welding finishes in an effort to reduce corrosion for oil and gas pipelines.
Orbital Fabrications operates as a welding specialist experienced in orbital TIG welding, high-tech fabrication and machining services.
Based in St. Ives, Cambridge, Orbital Fabrication’s team of specialist welding professionals offer a range of services ranging from manual welding to orbital tube welding. With over 25 years’ of experience, Orbital Fabrications has experience delivering fabrication engineering projects to a range of industries including the pharmaceutical, nuclear sectors and oil and gas sectors.
In addition, Orbital has the skills, qualifications and the necessary equipment to weld components for Subsea. Using its specialist knowledge and years of experience, Orbital Fabrications has the capabilities to produce the highest quality welds required to meet the unique demands of this sector.
Due to a recent expansion of their facilities, Orbital Fabrications is now able to also offer a range of cleanroom services from their ISO certified in-house Class 5 and 6 cleanroom facility. In addition to specialist welding services, Orbital Fabrications also provides helium leak testing and turnkey design amenities and has demonstrated its commitment to innovation through its continuous investment into staff training and the latest welding technology.
Experts in stainless steel welding, Orbital Fabrication can solve any challenge. If you would like to find out more about our capabilities within the oil and gas industry, contact our team here or call on 01480 464066.