The after-effects of the COVID-19 pandemic will be felt by nearly every market and industry for quite a few years to come. The oil and gas industry, which experienced ups and downs in the years prior to the pandemic, has been particularly affected through the whole supply chain.
According to a recent report prepared by Deloitte (2021 Oil & Gas Industry Outlook), demand is expected to recover but will remain lower than pre-COVID-19 levels. That same report indicates that 2021 will be a pivotal year in determining the survivability of many oil and gas companies, many of which have experienced mass layoffs over the past few years and will need to adapt to new technologies such as digitization, emissions targets and reporting, commitments to clean energy on the part of world leaders, changes in the way end users use resources, and the increase in environmental and socially responsible investing. This environment also requires suppliers to the oil and gas industry to be able to adapt to new industries and applications.
Common Components to Process Raw Materials
According to Joonas Arola, Pemamek’s Director of Power Generation and Offshore & Process Equipment segment technology, the oil- and gas-related manufacturing industry is in a huge transformation phase. Big Oil is branding itself to be greener and is simultaneously inventing new products and manufacturing processes. Currently, the biggest push is into wind energy; other environmentally friendly power generation technologies are also emerging.
“While wind is currently the best bet as to where to put your money, there are other markets, including hydrogen manufacturing, bio-oil processing and carbon capture and storage” said Arola. “From an equipment manufacturers point of view, basic products used in these processes are quite similar when compared with oil and gas products. You need tanks to store bio-oil or hydrogen, and pumps and pipes can be used in solutions to preserve carbon capture and storage.
There have been pilot plans for carbon capture and storage on a small scale and the first commercial scale plants in Europe have been announced. In my opinion, it is only a matter of time until the US starts to follow the trend.”
A Custom Approach to Adapting to New Markets
“Adapting to the change is much smoother when working with a reliable and experienced partner who can help define the most suitable and feasible manufacturing concept together with the customer”, Arola said.
Process equipment manufacturing involves the internal and external welding of circumferential joints automatically using adaptive welding technology made possible by laser scanning welding grooves. Lasers capture the groove data which is automatically downloaded into the control software. The software sends a message to a welding robot that adapts the weld to fit every millimeter of the groove creating the tightest weld possible.
Pema robotized nozzle welding technology works the same way, using lasers to scan grooves in the workpiece geometry to create robotic welding programs that adapt to the varying groove layers by continuously welding the grooves until a material fusion is achieved.
Any discrepancies between the pre-programmed groove geometry and the actual laser-scanned geometry are adjusted using the user-friendly WeldControl software family, which helps streamline the communication between the operator and machinery during welding operations. Production data monitoring, diagnostics, tracking, and robot programming can be performed by one operator on a one-panel control system the shop floor.
Pipe and pressure vessel fabrication can be powered with rollerbeds which can be equipped with an automatic hydraulic anti-creep function to prevent axial movement as the vessel needs to be rotated with extreme precision for semi-narrow gap welding.
“Our rollerbeds can be configured with rail cars and other accessories and can accommodate unbalanced, thin-walled, and heavy cylindrical pieces as well as pipes and tubes,” said Arola.
Pemamek column and booms can be easily integrated with positioners and rollerbeds and are controlled automatically from one control system, saving data for future applications. The pipe sections are welded on the outside using multi-arc SAW portals; on the inside using long reach welding booms. Welding processes such as GMAW or GTAW for root pass welding and multi-arc SAW welding for filling are integrated into the pipe fabricating equipment. Four types of positioners are available with loading capacities ranging from 250kg to 250 tons to help position the column and booms and welding equipment in the best possible place.
‘Pemamek is a global company and, as such, we’ve been able to collect data from feasibility studies, capacity calculations and best practices from other projects to determine their ability to be transferred to other applications,” explained Arola. “We always approach the customers as individuals, studying the situation together with the customer, considering product flexibility, future products, etc. Our team is eager to help you with your challenges whether they are on the small side or huge.”
The ability to modularize everything from rollerbeds to welding platforms to robotic welding equipment makes it possible to customize the fabricating operation for any application. And, while fabricating tubes, pipes and valves for oil and gas applications might use the same technologies as other end use applications, the ability to tweak the system can make all the difference when diversifying a product line.