From surgical equipment to cooking pans to skyscrapers, stainless steel has transformed the world as we know it today. Stainless steel is present in our daily lives and has made a significant impact in a wide variety of industrial applications. The oil and gas industry in particular has been no different, as operating conditions and extracting methods made stainless steel a very cost effective, convenient and reliable choice.
Higher operating pressures and temperatures
Despite worldwide efforts to rely on renewable energies, oil and gas remains the skeleton of the energy supply at present. Many conventional reserves have been exhausted and oil and gas reservoirs found in very inaccessible locations and hostile environments are now usual targets for exploration. Pressures and temperatures that were deemed in the past as not viable are at present common operating parameters, imposing considerable limitations on existing equipment and technology and making the oil and gas industry face serious material related challenges.
The emergence of the “Corrosion Resistant Alloy”
Nearly a decade ago, numerous oil and gas producers started specifying and using the low end of the Corrosion Resistant Alloys (CRAs) spectrum, including super austenitic stainless steels, duplex and super duplex varieties. This trend was mainly driven by failures experienced on existing equipment, where the basic stainless steel range could not perform appropriately. Awareness on corrosion cost and assets impact and safety have also been drivers for corrosion resistant alloy usage. Today, nearly every oil and gas producer includes CRAs in their portfolio. However, there is yet a lot to be learnt on how other CRAs could help optimise performance and integrity. In addition, the lower corrosion resistant alloy range is just an enhancement to the traditional stainless steel grades used for decades, but those have limitations as well, and are not the solution to every problem.
Meeting the demands of an ever changing environment
Fig. 1 Parker 6 Moly tubing.
Over the last months we have observed an increased demand for more special alloys, such as the nickel-based ones. What is more, end users do not only seem to be interested in using those advanced materials but for the first time, they also require specific melting methods, controlled manufacturing routes and extensive mechanical and corrosion testing methods to ensure maximum equipment performance. This is just another indication of harsher environments and highly demanding production routes.
Both, onshore and offshore applications are major contributors to the CRAs fast growing demand. Onshore shale gas production has flourished in the past years due to the availability of new drilling technology, by using advanced materials to fight the extreme corrosion effects of shale gas and the higher operating pressures. On the other hand, the offshore market, especially deep water exploration, is emerging too, due to the development of subsea technology. Both those sectors are bound to grow very rapidly in the future, and so CRAs high demand is expected to continue for years to come.
Parker Instrumentation Products Division, with over 40 years of experience in CRAs, offers an extensive range of equipment in a variety of materials, including super austenitic grades (commonly referred to as 6 Moly), duplex and super duplex steels, Nickel- Copper alloys (Alloy 400), Nickel alloys (Alloy 825, Alloy 625, Alloy C276) and Titanium. We have the knowledge and expertise to face the fast pace of CRAs development and continuously changing and demanding market needs. We can help you engineer your success.
Table 1. Common uses of Corrosion Resistant Alloys.
Clara Moyano is Innovation Engineer - Material Science at Parker Hannifin, Instrumentation Products Division, Europe.