Hi-force says com­pre­hen­sive bolted joint in­tegrity pro­grammes should be a pri­or­ity for oil and gas com­pa­nies’ to en­sure safe op­er­a­tions

Oil & Gas Middle East - - TECHNICAL FOCUS -

Typ­i­cally, an oil, gas or petro­chem­i­cal fa­cil­ity will con­tain be­tween 30,000 to 50,000 bolted joints, all of which have the po­ten­tial to leak and cre­ate a risk to the plant, the en­vi­ron­ment and could even lead to loss of life. Some leaks re­sult in a mi­nor, low risk in­ci­dents, but oth­ers could lead to cat­a­strophic loss of life and as­sets, as well as ma­jor da­m­age to the en­vi­ron­ment, within the lo­cal prox­im­ity of the plant.

This can also eas­ily es­ca­late to the wider area, de­pendng on the lo­ca­tion of the plant, with in­evitable da­m­age to the rep­u­ta­tion of all in­volved. Any loss of life and as­set is both re­gret­ted and avoid­able, and his­tory has shown us that ma­jor catas­tro­phes can, and do, hap­pen and the costs can run to mil­lions and some­times bil­lions of dol­lars.

Still, we use bolt­ing tech­nol­ogy be­cause it makes the con­struc­tion process eas­ier to man­age, and be­cause bolt­ing com­po­nents to­gether pro­vide the es­sen­tial ac­cess re­quired to carry out reg­u­lar main­te­nance, or in the case of the fail­ure of an in­di­vid­ual com­po­nent, it can be dis­man­tled and re­moved In order that the failed com­po­nent(s) can be re­paired or re­placed.

Pipe­lines and pres­sure ves­sels, which move and process hy­dro­car­bons, need to be reg­u­larly cleaned and main­tained, and this process is usu­ally car­ried out dur­ing a planned main­te­nance shut­down or out­age. Clearly, plan­ning is key to en­sure that a clear and de­fined work scope is pre­pared, in­clud­ing all of the nec­es­sary tool­ing and ex­per­tise re­quired.

Dur­ing con­struc­tion and com­mis­sion­ing of new fa­cil­i­ties, the is­sue of cor­rect “bolt up” of crit­i­cal and non-crit­i­cal joints is of­ten an over­sight dur­ing the con­struc­tion con­trac­tor bid­ding phase, which usu­ally re­sults in con­flict be­tween the plant own­ers, EPC con­trac­tors and the con­struc­tion sub-con­trac­tors. Ar­gu­ments arise over the re­spon­si­bil­ity for the cost and pro­vi­sion of the re­quired bolt­ing tools, and the nec­es­sary ex­per­tise, to carry out the bolt­ing work.

In many cases, due to a lack of avail­able tools and ex­per­tise, con­struc­tion con­trac­tors suf­fer from con­flict, with the pre­com­mis­sion­ing and com­mis­sion­ing teams, as a re­sult of leaks from in­cor­rectly as­sem­bled bolted joints dur­ing con­struc­tion phase and from in­cor­rectly pre-as­sem­bled com­po­nents, supplied by third par­ties, that only come to light dur­ing pre-com­mis­sion­ing and joint in­tegrity pres­sure test­ing.

Plant own­ers of­ten ap­ply se­vere penal­ties to EPC con­trac­tors for late de­liv­ery of the plant, and de­lays are of­ten due to re­work and rec­ti­fi­ca­tion of leak­ing joints. The im­prove­ment in bolted joint in­tegrity is one of the most sig­nif­i­cant ar­eas re­quir­ing at­ten­tion, both on the site and at all lev­els of plant fa­cil­i­ties man­age­ment.

So how can the whole process around “bolted joint in­tegrity” be im­proved and im­ple­mented to help re­duce the risks and costs re­lated to loss of life, as­sets, en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues and project com­ple­tion de­lay penal­ties?

All par­ties in­volved need to change their mind­sets and buy into the ben­e­fits of im­ple­ment­ing the nec­es­sary poli­cies and pro­ce­dures re­quired to de­liver a com­pre­hen­sive joint in­tegrity pro­gramme, at their re­spec­tive projects.

This is par­tic­u­larly ap­pli­ca­ble to new-builds, but can also de­liver sig­nif­i­cant time and cost sav­ings dur­ing shut­down main­te­nance,

pro­vided ev­ery­thing is planned in ad­vance. A “first time right” mind­set is key to the suc­cess­ful im­ple­men­ta­tion of the en­tire bolted joint in­tegrity pro­gramme. Re­work costs will al­ways be mul­ti­ples of the orig­i­nal assem­bly costs, so surely a sig­nif­i­cant re­duc­tion in re­work is some­thing ev­ery­one in­volved is keen to achieve?

As a ma­jor, UK head­quar­tered man­u­fac­turer, Hi-force, with over­seas re­gional of­fices in Hol­land, Italy, UAE, Saudi Ara­bia, Azer­bai­jan, Malaysia and South Africa, has over thirty years of ex­pe­ri­ence in the de­sign, man­u­fac­tur­ing, op­er­a­tion and use of man­ual, pneu­matic and hy­draulic bolt­ing tools.

Hi-force UK op­er­ates from a “state of the art” man­u­fac­tur­ing fa­cil­ity lo­cated in Daven­try, Eng­land, which houses ev­ery­thing from prod­uct de­sign through to man­u­fac­tur­ing, assem­bly, test­ing and cer­ti­fi­ca­tion of an ex­ten­sive range of bolt­ing tools, as well as many other types of high pres­sure hy­draulic tool­ing.

Hi-force also of­fers full af­ter sales and ser­vice sup­port through all of its strate­gi­cally placed re­gional of­fices and au­tho­rised and trained distrib­u­tors, in al­most 100 coun­tries world­wide. For many years Hi-force has also of­fered clients short and long term tool ren­tal, and in 2016 this ser­vice was for­mally ex­tended to of­fer com­plete on-site bolted joint in­tegrity man­age­ment dur­ing plant con­struc­tion and main­te­nance shut­down ac­tiv­i­ties.

The Hi-force On-site Bolt­ing Ser­vices Divi­sion, man­aged from the Hi-force UK Head Of­fice, can now of­fer clients pre-start on-site sur­veys, a full and com­pre­hen­sive anal­y­sis of bolted joint needs and re­quire­ments, devel­op­ment of cor­rect pro­ce­dures, in­clud­ing all re­quired bolted joint load cal­cu­la­tions, on-site su­per­vi­sion us­ing ECITB qual­i­fied and trained su­per­vi­sors, on-site bolted joint in­tegrity train­ing cour­ses for the nom­i­nated con­trac­tor tech­ni­cians, full flange man­age­ment con­trol, util­is­ing the Hi-force BOLTRIGHT PRO cal­cu­la­tion soft­ware and high qual­ity, Uk­man­u­fac­tured bolt­ing tools.

“Our on-site Su­per­vi­sors have all the nec­es­sary skills to su­per­vise the bolt­ing work, carry out bolt­ing work when nec­es­sary, con­duct high qual­ity train­ing cour­ses at site and of course carry out any re­quired tool ser­vice and re­pair work,” says Group Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor of Hi-force Kevin Brown.

As part of the Hi-force on-site bolt­ing ser­vices of­fer­ing, the com­pany is able to mo­bilise to site be­spoke twenty foot con­tain­ers, fully equipped, as either a bolt­ing tool store, or a mo­bile on-site train­ing fa­cil­ity, in­cor­po­rat­ing all the nec­es­sary train­ing equip­ment, to de­liver bolt­ing train­ing cour­ses, to the high­est pos­si­ble stan­dard.

“Hi-force is al­ways look­ing to ex­pand its of­fer­ing to clients world­wide and this new ven­ture has al­ready de­liv­ered sig­nif­i­cant re­sults in re­cent months,” says Brown. “We cur­rently have four con­tain­ers mo­bilised, two each to two dif­fer­ent plant con­struc­tion sites and our clients are al­ready see­ing the ben­e­fit of em­ploy­ing a spe­cial­ist bolt­ing ser­vices com­pany to man­age all of their joint in­tegrity needs at the site. A fur­ther two be­spoke con­tain­ers have also re­cently been or­dered.”

“The is­sue of pur­chas­ing of cap­i­tal in­ten­sive bolt­ing tools, is no longer a re­quire­ment for the site, be­cause we are of­fer­ing com­pet­i­tively priced tool ren­tal, through­out the project, with our own on-site tool ser­vice re­pair fa­cil­i­ties, fully sup­ported by read­ily avail­able spare parts, to en­sure bolt­ing work is con­tin­u­ously car­ried out.”

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