The Oil and Gas sector is understandably classed as being the biggest industry in the world in terms of dollar value. Oil and Gas companies are usually significant contributors to National GDP worldwide and they provide employment to millions of people across the globe. By far, the largest volumes of products of the oil and gas industry are fuel oil and gasoline (petrol).
The sector has three key areas – Upstream, Midstream and Downstream.
• The Upstream market is exploration and production which involves the search for underwater and underground natural gas and crude oil fields, and the drilling of exploration wells.
• The Midstream market covers the transportation, storage and processing of oil and gas. Transportation can involve anything for oil tankers to pipelines and even fleets of trucks.
• The Downstream market incorporates the filtering of the raw materials that were attained during the Upstream phase. In includes the refining of crude oil and the purification of natural gas.
The oil and gas industry widely operates in demanding environments that sees machinery working in very high or low temperatures in potential toxic substances. Because of this, special grades of metal have been developed to ensure that it can resist corrosion and withstand extreme temperatures.
As the oil and gas market is increasingly focusing its search on even more hazardous environments, the demand for corrosive resistant duplex steel products becomes higher. The further the depth of exploration for offshore oil, the greater pressure is put on duplex and super duplex stainless steel pipes installed in harsh corrosive environments.
Benefits and applications of stainless steel
Super duplex steel is often used in the oil and gas industry due to its many benefits:
• High strength that therefore enables lighter constructions
• Is relatively maintenance free, reducing life-cycle costs
• Has very good corrosion resistance, including pitting corrosion resistance and intergranular corrosion
• Has higher tensile and yield strength
• Has good weldability
Because of all these, Super Duplex Stainless Steel can regularly be found in piping systems, separators, scrubbers, pumps, manifolds, heat exchangers, flowlines, and storage tanks.
As an example, stainless steel also forms an essential component of many offshore oil rigs and marine environments. Crude oil’s corrosive nature means that stainless steel is a perfect material to contain it, similarly so in sub-sea conditions such as deep-sea drilling where the equipment being used has to be highly durable and resistant to corrosion.
The main pipes used in the offshore Oil and Gas Industry are Duplex 2205 (22% Chromium, 5% Nickel) and 2507 (25% Chromium, 7% Nickel); and Super Duplex 2507 which has higher corrosion resistance. Duplex steel is also highly resistant to chloride-induced stress corrosion cracking and has the strength to resist pressure at extreme depths.
As a specific example of Super Duplex 2507, Petro Canada installed a combination of Super Duplex 2507 and Duplex 2205 pipes at their Newfoundland oil field and chose these specific products because they can withstand high levels of salt without corroding; have high tensile strength, outstanding pitting, cracking and impact resistance, minimal thermal expansion and high conductivity.
When expertly chosen, stainless steel permits the safe containment of oil and gas process fluids and its durability ensures its long life. Overall, stainless steel is an exceptional life cycle performer in both the environmental and economic senses.
Nickel Alloy and Inconel in the Oil and Gas Industry
As well as Stainless Steel, Nickel Alloy and Inconel are two of the most robust and enduring materials that are also versatile enough to be used within the oil and gas industry. The range of applications Inconel has is vast and it is commonly used in high performing equipment that is required to be reliable even in difficult circumstances. Within the oil & gas industry, it is common to find it in chemical processing and pressure vessels, well pump motor shafts, steam generators and even turbine blades, seals and combustors.
Special Piping Materials and the Oil and Gas Industry
Special Piping Materials has been working with the Oil and Gas industry since our inception. We understand the needs and requirements of the global industry and work with the very best mills and manufacturers across the world in order to best service our clients, many of whom are industry leaders and innovators. We will continue to source and supply the most high-quality super duplex stainless steels and Nickel Alloy products – whether that’s pipes, flanges or specialist fittings – for many years to come.