Sealing Shielding

Do Your Seals Meet the Demands of the Oil and Gas Industry?

Extreme low temperature O-ring sealing solutions for offshore drilling.Around the world, the oil and gas industry is exploring new avenues of obtaining oil. Pursuing these resources brings challenges like extreme temperatures, high pressures, and exposure to aggressive fluids. Choosing a suitable rubber compound for equipment used in the oilfield service environment is critical for safety, reliability, and minimal downtime. Parker Engineered Materials Group (EMG) offers a broad spectrum of rubber compounds designed to meet these challenges and have been tested to relevant industry standard specifications. In this blog, we will take a look at the concerns introduced by these challenges and offer suggestions based on the industry testing Parker EMG has performed.


Extreme temperatures

The well location is a primary driver of temperature in the Oil and Gas Industry. Some locations can experience hot environments downhole with temperatures in excess of 400°F while in other areas, surface temperatures can reach -55°F. Failure and leakage can occur when the temperature exceeds the rubber compound’s acceptable range. At high temperatures, thermal degradation and excessive compression set can take place while at low temperatures the rubber compound can exhibit inflexibility and loss of resilience. 


Higher pressures

Along with temperature, higher pressures are now being seen by seals as drilling techniques become more sophisticated and wells are dug deeper. Pressures between 1,500 and 15,000 psi are now commonplace and in some operations, pressures can exceed 25,000 psi. At these pressure ranges it is necessary to look closely at gland design, material choice, and decompression rates in gaseous applications. Gland dimensions and material choice will govern whether extrusion may occur and if a backup ring is necessary. Fast decompression rates can lead to a failure known as Rapid Gas Decompression (RGD) or Explosive Decompression (ED). Parker Engineered Materials Group offers application sizing support, back-up rings in elastomeric and thermoplastic materials, and has performed testing to the relevant industry wide standards published by ISO, NORSOK, NACE, and TOTAL for RGD situations.

Harsh chemical environments

One of the most challenging aspects faced in the Oil and Gas industry today are the chemically aggressive fluids. There are a vast number of fluids used in the industry, but several can be particularly challenging to seal. High temperature water and steam, water/glycol based control fluids, and sour gas (H2S) all present different challenges to elastomeric seals. Incompatibility between the seal material and fluid can cause swelling, shrinkage, or degradation of the rubber compound leading to a possible failure. Parker EMG offers compounds in Hydrogenated Nitrile (HNBR), Fluorocarbon (FKM), AFLAS© (TFE/P) and ULTRA© (FFKM) families to meet the demands of any fluid combination. EMG has also tested compounds from each group of these materials to the ISO, Norsok, and API industry standards relevant for harsh sour gas environments. 

RGD and Sour Gas standards are referenced by manufacturers of subsea control systems, valves, actuators, drilling systems, and other components. These standards are determined by industry leaders and published by groups like ISO, Norsok, NACE, Total, and API. Parker EMG performs compound development and testing designed specifically to meet these standards. 

In the coming months, Parker Engineered Materials Group will provide an in depth look at challenges in temperature, pressure, RGD, aggressive fluids, industry certifications, and many more topics pertinent to the Oil and Gas Industry. In the meantime, please take a look at the latest bulletin that outlines materials certified to industry standards, which provides a comparison of the individual industry testing standards as well as the most current summary of the materials that Parker has tested. 

Nathan Sowder



Article contributed by Nathan Sowder, business development engineer, Parker O-Ring Division.



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Additional resources:

Advanced Material Development for High-Pressure/High-Temperature Oil & Gas Extraction

Parker O-Ring Division Support Tools and Videos

Mobile inPHorm O-Ring Design Analysis App



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Comments for Do Your Seals Meet the Demands of the Oil and Gas Industry?

Bill Moreland
Great idea, very informative and an excellent marketing tool. Dana's presention was great and I look forward to sending this out to our customers.
Joe Pepas
Really nice work Nathan.

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