When deciding on an industrial pump for an oil and gas operation, there is a lot to consider. Crude oil is a dynamic liquid with the unique complexities that can be exceedingly difficult to pump, but if you know the basics of what you need in a pump to minimize downtime and maintenance while lengthening the life cycle of your system, your decision becomes much easier.
Let’s break down the six attributes you should look for in your industrial pump for oil and gas - and why they matter.
Minimum Stable Continuous Flow
Oil is a unique substance in numerous ways, but one of the most impactful details about oil is how it reacts to temperature change. This can make it a very high pressure and difficult material to pump.
As the oil changes pressure, it can cause your pump to run below its minimum stable continuous flow which can result in vibrations. These vibrations ultimately inflict damage on your entire system, causing increased maintenance and downtime, as well as the potential for complete failure, dangerous spills, and expensive cleanup.
When you’re choosing your pump, look for one with a very low minimum stable continuous flow to avoid dropping below this operating threshold.
Laminar flow is also known as streamline flow. This is when a fluid moves smoothly with consistent velocity and pressure. Laminar flow has important benefits for your pump and pipe system.
Because laminar flow keeps movement as smooth as possible, it minimizes vibrations and damage to the system and its components. This can decrease your required maintenance, costly downtime, and overall production costs.
For thick, highly viscous materials like crude oil, achieving laminar flow can be difficult but not impossible. If you skip this step when choosing a pump, you will most likely find yourself later needing a pump that offers laminar flow.
Shear sensitivity refers to how a liquid responds to a shear force acting on it inside the pump. So let’s take a look at how it plays out in consideration of oil reservoirs.
Oil is often produced together with water. Shear forces act on the liquids in the pumps and the oil and water are sheared when they pass through other pressure-increasing devices throughout the production line. These forces distribute the oil and water into one another, which forms emulsions. These emulsions during the main separation process are a large financial concern, .
The higher the shear forces acting on the water and oil, the smaller the dispersed droplets. This makes the emulsions more stable which means it will take longer for them to separate. Thus, pumps with a high shear force pose a threat to oil companies as they either have to use expensive chemicals to separate the emulsions or bear the cost of holding the oil until they naturally separate. You should consider this during your selection process.
Aptitude with Highly Viscous Materials
Viscosity refers to a fluid’s resistance to change shape and its opposition to flow. Highly viscous fluids tend to not want to flow as easily and, thus, viscosity plays a critical role in pump selection. It also has a direct relationship with shear sensitivity.
Crude oil can range widely in viscosity but tends to be highly viscous, almost a tar-like material. This gives it a serious opposition to flow, making it difficult to pump. When you choose a pump, look for one that is capable of handling highly viscous fluids, otherwise you will be back to the drawing board before long.
Low Life Cycle Cost
Life cycle cost refers to the total cost of purchasing, installing, operating, maintaining, and retiring a system. This is a comprehensive look at the financial impact the system will have on your plant. For many operations, this is no small impact. Pump systems can consume 25-50% of a plant’s energy.
When choosing your pump, you will want to consider this cost in addition to the initial installation cost. The right pump for the job might cost more upfront but have lower life cycle costs thanks to lower maintenance, decreased downtime, longer life, and improved efficiency.
Speaking of maintenance, one of the most important and practical aspects to consider when choosing a pump for oil and gas production is required maintenance. Every time a pump goes down for maintenance, it costs you. In the last two years, the cost of downtime for the oil and gas industry has more than doubled, costing upwards of $500,000 per hour.
While you need to consider time for planned maintenance, you also need to consider the overall reliability of the pump you’re using. For planned downtime, you can theoretically get a replacement pump, although that is a hassle if needed frequently.
If you are using an unreliable, easily impaired pump, you will have to fight the dreaded unplanned downtime. In the oil and gas industry, the cost of unplanned downtime has risen 76% over the last 2 years to $149m on average.
Thus, consider how much maintenance a pump will need from you and the financial impact that will have on your plant.
Proven Oil & Gas Pumping Solution
Does a solution exist for the oil and gas industry that meets all the above criteria? Absolutely. Discflo pumps excel at pumping oil and gas with a minimum stable continuous flow that is a fraction of what is currently available from traditional pumps. Our pumps are also specially designed to handle highly viscous materials, and can pump even when up to 20% air gets in the line.
When we design Discflo pumps, we have one goal: make your life as easy as possible by doing the impossible.
That is why our high-quality pumps regularly last 20 years with minimal maintenance, minimizing downtime and maximizing productivity. Even now, our pumps are hard at work in the oil and gas industry moving crude oil as well as assisting in other ways, such as moving sludge.
For example, a leading motor oil and gas additive processing plant in Texas was struggling with transferring filter cake slurry to disposal containers. For more than 10 years, their pumps would frequently fail because the slurry was so thick (about the consistency of peanut butter). But at other moments, the steam condensate would fail to successfully mix with the oily cake, which would create a two-phase liquid.
These frequent failures resulted in a couple shutdowns a week for several hours at a time. They needed a different solution.
We installed a Discflo pump that could handle the wide changes in viscosity. These pumps have been in operation for years with no mechanical failures, no shutdowns to replace worn parts, and no lost production.
Are Discflo pumps the solution you have been looking for? Contact our team today to see how our Discflo pumps can help your organization.