Structures used in gas exploration come under extreme pressures. It is important the right materials are used to prevent malfunctions. One of the prime concerns is using the correct grade of stainless steel for each application.
There are different grades of stainless steel for different applications. Each has their own cost, weight and durability advantages depending on the area they are designed for. The offshore oil industry has some extreme requirements, with work carried out deep under water, which increases the corrosion risk. What are the best choices for stainless steel products in these areas?
Requirements Of The Oil Industry
As oil exploration has advanced, the depths we go to have increased and so have the needs of the industry. The materials they use are now put under more strain with the greater pressure forces you encounter as you dig deeper. There is also an increased risk of corrosion. Therefore, the industry is constantly looking for better quality products that can withstand these tough conditions. The best choice for pipe fittings and flanges is duplex stainless steel.
Advantages For The Oil Industry
One of the main advantages of duplex stainless steel is that it is much less corrosive than the alternatives. Being used deep under water, materials come into contact with a range of substances that can cause corrosion; water, low ph levels, chlorides and carbon dioxide. By using this grade of stainless steel for fittings, the industry is reducing the risk of them cracking due to corrosion.
This grade of steel is also much stronger, making it more effective at coping with high pressure levels. It is twice as strong as austenitic or ferritic steel, but with a similar degree of corrosion resistance. However, it is also extremely flexible and has excellent thermal conductivity properties, making it easy to work with and weld.
Issues To Consider
One of the key requirements for the oil industry is that the right products are chosen for the job. Safety and efficiency are two vital factors and this oversees all purchasing and design decisions. If work is being carried out at these extreme depths there is no room for error and the problems due to malfunctions are too severe.
With this steel there are cost benefits over other materials. However, this is not usually of prime concern for the off shore industry. The issues caused by something going wrong are too high. Therefore, the main requirement is choosing a product that will be effective. Building tools and structures for deep sea oil exploration are expensive and time consuming. They are designed to last for years and any initial cost outlays will be recouped through their durability.
As there is a greater global demand for oil, so the industry will have to dig deeper to meet these needs. There will be more requirements for duplex stainless steel for the tubes and piping. Keeping up with the technological and scientific needs of the industry will ensure that production can continue for years to come.