Refining your electrical footprint with compliant cabling systems
The oil, petrochemical and gas industry is one of the largest sectors, with an estimated yearly revenue of around $3.3 trillion dollars. The sector is divided into three core areas: upstream, midstream and downstream. Upstream activity relates directly to the exploration and production of oil, petrochemical and gas, the midstream to transportation, and downstream activities are involved in the filtering of raw materials obtained during the upstream phase.
Once processed and commercialised, distributed products are supplied to end users in the form of petrol, natural gas, lubricants, jet fuel, kerosene, asphalt, diesel oil, heating oil, gasoline, liquefied petroleum gas and more.
Petroleum, in particular, is extensively used in many industries and is also the primary material selected for a number of chemical products, such as plastics, pharmaceuticals, solvents and fertilisers.
Sector specific cable challenges
1. Environmental impacts
Industrial developments of the last century have undoubtedly had a severe impact on the environment. The uncontrolled leverage and use of fossil fuels, the increased need for energy and, in some cases, improper disposal of energy and commodities has produced an adverse impact on the international ecosystem.
The environmental risks have caused increased concern for many nations and communities. Refineries often release toxic air pollutants. They also contribute to ground-water and surface-water pollution. Wastewater may be highly contaminated due to the number of agents it can come into contact with during the refining process. Cabling exposed to these environments may result in premature aging, degradation caused by reacting chemicals or overall compromised quality. Special consideration must therefore be taken to ensure cable products are made up of materials that will not be negatively impacted from both environmental or operation-specific conditions.
2. Optimising costs
Lowering the costs of crude oil and refined elements sits amongst some of the major challenges within the industry today. Sustainable electrical systems with proven performance characteristics and optimised initial, as well as ongoing maintenance, costs are also closely aligned. Improvement or streamlining of existing plant and production systems to increasing productivity, which can lead to a reduction in costs is key; as is staying competitive and maximising returns.
Incompatible cable choices can significantly impact costs, should a failure occur, causing not only money lost during operating downtime but also costs associated with inspections, rework or replacements. Low quality, non-standard compliant cables, or those simply not built for use in the oil, petrochemical and gas sector can oftentimes be the cause of unpredictable costs. In a society where the need to optimise in order to remain an industry player, increased importance on innovative, efficient and reliable products and processes is becoming ever more prevalent.
3. Extreme operations
Oil and gas operations are often located in extreme conditions, from subsea drilling, cross country pipelines to remote weathering impacts. Providing a high level of operational reliability is crucial. Increasingly, due to their remote nature, processing plants must rely on electrical systems to power, monitor, track and record data to ensure a smooth operation; and cabling infrastructures are central to this.
Approved cables prior to installation are tested in simulated environments and certified to verify the quality of their long-term performance and overall standards compliance. Confined spaces, operating by-products and harsh settings make cable access difficult once in operation, which makes the ability to demonstrating performance at systems specification stages extremely critical.