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 oil, petrochemical, and gas exploration and production. The midstream to transportation and downstream activities are involved in filtering 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 several chemical products, such as plastics, pharmaceuticals, solvents and fertilisers.
Sector specific cable challenges
1. Environmental impacts
Industrial developments of the last century have undoubtedly severely impacted 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 have adversely impacted 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 groundwater 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 ageing, degradation caused by reacting chemicals or overall compromised quality. Therefore, special consideration must be taken to ensure cable products are made up of materials that environmental or operation-specific conditions will not negatively impact.
2. Optimising costs
Lowering the costs of crude oil and refined elements sits among 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 increase 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 money lost during operating downtime and 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 often cause 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, before 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 demonstrate performance at systems specification stages extremely critical.