Any industry that relies on an infrastructure system to remain working at full capacity, at all times, is at the mercy of unscheduled events that can cause very inconvenient downtime. Whether it is for scheduled maintenance reasons or due to totally unforeseen emergencies, having to take all or part of a system off-line can cause significant interruptions to production and prove to be costly for a company. In the oil and gas industry it is of the utmost importance to maintain high production levels at all stages and when this is applied to the drilling and retrieval side of operations, it can lead to particularly problematic situations.
Companies involved in the energy production processes at the very basic raw material level operate in some of the most hostile and inhospitable environments on earth. Whether it is the extreme pressures of working at deep sea level or the high temperatures involved in working processes themselves, the risks are high for personnel, as can be the demands placed on the equipment and infrastructure being used.
As with any industry that needs to look at ways of saving time and expenditure, the oil and gas sector is making use of some of the most cutting-edge solutions available. The process of hot tapping, sometimes called pressure tapping, is one that allows a connection to be made to an existing pipeline or other type of pressure vessel without the need to empty it first. This means that operational capabilities can continue at least at some level whilst modification, repair or maintenance is carried out. It can also help avoid certain environmental problems sometimes associated with draining off or releasing pressure.
New hot tapping machines
An array of portable machinery is available on the market for use in these circumstances, and it is frequently being modified and updated to offer greater safety and capability. Mirage Machines have recently announced a new range of MHT hot tapping machines that feature a front mounted drive gearbox which delivers improved torque and control at the cutter. In the product launch, Mirage said “A key feature of the MHT machines is that through a revision to the gearbox arrangement, the primary sealing element is at the front of the machine. This reduces the exposure of the machine to line product, greatly reducing maintenance demands as well as reducing health and safety risks, as the majority of the machine maintains at ambient temperature.” So when it comes to common tasks such as pipeline maintenance the recent advances in hot tapping machinery design can make it a safer and more reliable operation than ever before.
Oil and gas operations are commonly found in remote locations far from company headquarters. Now, it's possible to monitor pump operations, collate and analyze seismic data, and track employees around the world from almost anywhere. Whether employees are in the office or in the field, the internet and related applications enable a greater multidirectional flow of information – and control – than ever before.