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Oil and gas conferences to focus on polymers

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HOUSTON—Polymers in the oil and gas industry will be hot topics in Houston in April and June.

Smithers Rapra is hosting the High Performance Polymers for Oil and Gas 2015 conference and exhibition, to be held at the Omni Houston Hotel Westlake, on April 13-14.

Applied Market Information L.L.C. is sponsoring the Oil & Gas Polymer Engineering Texas 2015 at the Hilton Houston Post Oak June 9-10.

AMI also will host an oil and gas conference in London at the Millennium Hotel Dec. 8-10.

The three conferences are aimed at giving attendees updates on new innovations in the industry, especially in the use of non-metallic materials.

April conference

The Smithers Rapra conference “will have the key decision makers in the oil and gas sector present and eager to learn from our expert speakers,” according to Kevin Hudson, conference producer for the company. “In this business, we are all working toward the same goals of a superior quality product at a low cost to our business.

“Meetings like this are just the place for our international audience to come together and discuss the latest developments in regulations and standards, seals, rigid and flexible pipes, hoses, tanks and vessels, and heavily concentrate on the use of non-metallic products in oil and gas.”

The April conference and exhibition will feature more than 20 presentations assessing market trends, technical development and application-related advances, Smithers Rapra said. Question and answer sessions and panel discussions are part of the mix.

Hudson said there is a need to understand the limitations and service life of rubber and plastic materials under their application conditions.

He cited a number of influencing factors, one of which is a lack of new generic polymers currently entering the market, which means that in the short term, it is unlikely there will be “a step change in the capability of materials to meet more demanding oil and gas service conditions,” such as chemical resistance, temperature extremes and high pressure.

Other factors include a lack of relevant long-term design data for available materials and, for applications where material performance is satisfactory, operators' desire to extend the service life of components to achieve greater cost efficiencies.

Another concern is that without design changes, safety margins may become reduced, creating a greater need for more frequent maintenance, he said.

“Legacy performance is no longer accepted in isolation; test data must be generated,” Hudson said. “A criticism of accelerated material tests is they don't accurately simulate the service conditions. The prediction can, however, be refined by measuring the material properties of parts removed from service, either from riders or at the end of life.”

He said an alternative approach under consideration “is the development of smart materials with advanced functionalities such as self-diagnosis or self-healing.” He noted Smithers Rapra is working to develop test methodologies to improve life prediction from materials data.

June conference

Applied Market Information's Oil & Gas Polymer Engineering Texas conference in June will bring together oilfield operators, contractors, equipment and component manufacturers, researchers, and suppliers to examine the use of non-metallic materials in the industry, the firm said.

They will share case studies, learn from experiences and preview the future with the latest technologies, it said.

The U.S. is currently leading global markets in developing unconventional sources of gas and oil, “and production of crude oil in 2014 rose to around 8 million barrels per day with gas at 10 billion cubic feet per day,” said Sally Humphreys, business development manager at AMI.

She said thermoplastics, elastomers and composite materials provide unique properties for oil field operations “and are vital to the function and integrity of many structures, including risers, cables, chemical and corrosion-resistant coatings in steel structures, pipelines, seals, composite platforms, pumps, zonal isolation technology, swellable packers, and blow-out preventers.”

Humphreys cited numerous tests and studies on polymer materials being conducted by various companies that could have a significant impact on the oil and gas industry. “We have included a number of new technologies at the conference; there are particularly new applications in the fracking industry,” she noted.

Research and development “will continue in the oil industry because there are components that need to be improved for long-term safety and performance,” she said.

Elastomeric seals, hoses and packers are vital in the oil and gas sector, Humphreys said. “There are more chemicals being injected down hole—also supercritical carbon dioxide—and the harsher wells are high in sulfur dioxide (sour gas), which places high demands on chemical resistance and explosive decompression resistance properties.”