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Natural gas production surged in 2018 (up over 5% and two times the historical trend), due in large part by growth in the U.S, as the top producer of petroleum in the world, followed by Russia and Saudi Arabia. Production and trade are on the rise with India being considered an emerging superpower, with its economy growing more quickly than, and its population expected to surpass, China in 2024, according to The United Nations.
India’s growing leadership position today is a contrast from the country’s economic situation in 2013. Rallying the country, Narendra Modi, the prime minister of India, made innovation and advancement a priority and launched the galvanizing “Make in India” initiative in 2014 to bring it and its supporters together. Saint-Gobain Seals is also supporting with their new local Bangalore manufacturing site, critical seals and polymer parts, and design and application engineering expertise.
The “Make in India” Movement
Designed to facilitate investment, foster innovation, enhance skill development, protect intellectual property and build best-in-class manufacturing infrastructure, the “Make in India” government program focuses on job creation and skill enhancement in sectors of the economy, high quality standards, and minimizing the impact on the environment. Through an action plan that includes advancements in government infrastructure, a mobile first web site, and more, the initiative aims to propel advancement, attract capital and technological investment, and increase India’s manufacturing sector to 25% of the GDP by 2020.
Even though India accounted for less than one percent of world oil production in 2016-18, its status as a net exporter is expected to grow, with the country’s refiners planning to raise capacity by 77% by 2030. Growing domestic demand and exports are helping to drive production with the Indian government committed to fueling this increase. Of the 23 crude oil refineries in India, at the end of Q1 2018, 18 were state-owned, with the government’s Indian Oil Corporation the largest by capacity. Many believe India’s location, next to Saudi Arabia, as a leading exporter, and Asia, as a leading demand hub, make it an ideal location for production to meet its domestic and international demand. Additionally, India is often preferred for low costs and high capability.
As with many other areas, exploration of new reserves can be challenging, and is also expected to be a requirement in India. More difficult resource recovery in more remote locations at deeper well depths, can present some of the most aggressive trials to oil and gas machinery and the critical parts needed to operate them safely such as seals. These include extreme temperatures, aggressive chemicals and gases, abrasive media and high pressure.
Saint-Gobain Seals Supports India: Bangalore Site & Sealing Solutions
Due to the growing potential in India for oil and gas, Saint-Gobain Seals is moving forward to support oil and gas companies with a new, local manufacturing site in Bangalore that is expected to be finished this year and will provide faster project execution, response time, and delivery; less expensive parts, and faster service, while capitalizing on proven designs, application knowledge, manufacturing excellence and engineering.
The local team will continue to provide innovative solutions that address the specific needs of customers such as the upcoming economic range of standard sealing solutions at up to 10K PSI for ball valve applications as one of the next advancements to this industry.
The team will also focus on several pain areas that oil and gas customers are facing due to their usage of elastomer O-rings. Stringent rules/norms and upgradation of BS4 to BS6 standards mean that fugitive emissions leakage is going to be a major concern in India and spring-energized seals is one of the best solutions to address this issue.
Sealing Solutions Making THE Difference
Seals are essential parts in subsea, floating production, surface exploration, fugitive emission, cryogenic and other oil and gas applications, where media often needs to be controlled or sealed.
Elastomer o-rings, consisting of a loop of elastomer with a round cross-section, that rest in a groove between parts to create a seal, have been regularly used in oil and gas. They rely on the elasticity of the materials to provide a good seal. However, they can be prone to issues in challenging environments, generally performing best in static uses with reasonable pressure and temperature demands.
For this reason, OmniSeal® spring-energized seals, consisting of a polymer jacket material encapsulating an energizer made from a metallic spring, are being used more frequently in situations where o-rings may fail to perform in stringent applications. OmniSeal® spring-energized seals can withstand extreme temperatures and large pressure variations in mild or very aggressive environments. This spring combination, introduced by Saint-Gobain Seals in the 1970s to solve reliability and durability problems of elastomeric seals, can resist aggressive media while maintaining resilience and sealing force even in high pressures and low temperatures.
A common misconception is that o-rings offer a cheaper total solution in terms of cost, ease of application, and ease of assembling over spring-energized seals (for instance, while an o-ring can be expanded and inserted into a groove, a spring-energized seal requires proper sliding movement, tolerances in mating parts, surface finish and overlay of shafts). However, when you consider the cost over the life of the seal, downtime losses, and servicing costs of replacing o-rings, this is often not the case, and spring-energized seals frequently are a less expensive option.
How do you select the right sealing solution? The choice comes down to several factors.
- Pressures and Emissions: Elastomer o-rings are limited in the amount of pressure that they can handle; OmniSeal®spring-energized seals are specially designed for applications with very-high pressure ranges (20K PSI), where the former cannot be used. With India shifting to anti-explosive decompression (AED) and allowable oil leakage norms getting more stringent (with the move from BS4 to BS6 standards), leakage control of fugitive emissions will continue to grow in importance. O-rings, however, do not offer a satisfactory solution to address stringent leakage allowances.
- Temperatures: While elastomer o-rings are limited to -50° C, OmniSeal®seals can work at temperatures as low as -254°C.
- Chemical Compatibility: Standard elastomer o-rings can lose properties and become brittle in aggressive media, leading to failure. Elastomer seal failure due to rapid decompression of gaseous media is referred to as Explosive Decompression (ED) or Rapid Gas Decompression (RGD). Gas dissolved within the seal material forms micro bubbles that can be trapped within the seal (with high decompression/expansion) causing a fissure and leakage.
- Longevity: Because they have metal energizers and polymer materials, OmniSeal®seals have a much longer shelf life than elastomer o-rings and are less demanding in terms of controls or material aging. For example, Saint-Gobain Seals supplied OmniSeal® seals for subsea valves with specifications requiring a minimum 25-year service lifetime, far beyond duration capabilities of standard elastomer o-rings.
- Custom Design: Elastomer o-ring seals are typically designed for standard groove dimensions, which can limit new systems and equipment design. OmniSeal®spring-energized seals, conversely, are dimensioned and machined for the groove, offering greater design freedom, which is critical in cryogenics, fugitive emission reduction and other critical applications.
- Reliability: Even when an elastomer o-ring may suffice, OmniSeal®seals are sometimes used to provide added reliability and peace of mind, especially when it comes to ensuring compliance with fugitive emissions requirements.
Within India’s oil and gas industry, Saint-Gobain Seals’ OmniSeal® spring-energized seals offer numerous benefits in the following applications:
- Offshore and Onshore Oil & Gas such as in couplings, ball, gate and choke valves and API 17D wellhead and X-mas tree equipment that need to address extreme pressures and temperatures from exploration and production in complex reservoirs. With much of this exploration being done in the Middle East and companies following SHELL’s strict specifications, spring-energized seals are often selected since they have been tested and validated according to SHELL standards, a compliancy that customers value and trust.
- Refinery and Cryogenic (LNG) for ball and butterfly valves and loading arms with low leakage requirements from strict industry standards. With India currently focused on refinery and o-rings being used predominantly, OmniSeal® spring-energized seals can often be used as a more reliable replacement in these applications.
- Petrochemical and Fertilizer in shaft seals, pumps, and sealing systems for production in corrosive and abrasive liquids and high gas content.
Aside from spring-energized seals, metal seals hold an important place in many oil and gas environments, such as in extremely demanding subsea applications. With Saint-Gobain Seals’ recent acquisition of American Seal & Engineering and their AmeriSeal™ metal sealing technology, the business can now offer sealing solutions where extreme temperatures, pressures, resiliency to corrosive materials, and vacuum seal are critical.
Seals & Polymer Materials Expertise Making THE Difference
A sealing solution cannot be successful if you do not have the right partner to understand how to use it. At Saint-Gobain Seals, their seals have been used in this industry for close to 50 years and are known for their innovation and quality due to their co-engineering approach and close collaboration with customers. Supported by world-class manufacturing, global R&D facilities and highly-efficient worldwide and local application engineers, Saint-Gobain Seal’s expertise lies in identifying the root cause of problem areas and working closely with clients to provide customized solutions. Along with examining the application, working conditions, compliance, fugitive emissions and design, they go beyond these key factors to study other design engineering elements in order to develop a seal to precisely fit and perform optimally in a certain environment. Engineering elements such as the right surface finish may be overlooked or underestimated, making or breaking a seal’s ability to function properly.
In India specifically, their design engineering team has a proven track record in developing customized solutions qualified for BS 6364, 10,000 PSI specifications for high pressure valves in cryogenic applications. They are currently collaborating with a key Indian customer to provide a zero leakage balance sealing solution for a globe valve, designing a custom OmniSeal® spring-energized seal with an o-ring energizer. Another collaboration with a key customer is providing a high pressure balance seal for their 15K PSI choke valve.
In the oil and gas industry, complying with legal and regulatory requirements is critical to manage financial and reputational risks. Saint-Gobain Seals is committed to providing confidence to their customers by designing and testing their seals to be compliant with the most stringent fugitive emission standards such as ISO 15848-1 and SHELL MESC SPE 77-312. In addition, all their polymer materials have been certified to API 6A annex F and NORSOK M710. With India moving from BS4 to BS6, fugitive emissions leakage control will continue to grow in importance. R&D and testing expertise also remain a critical part. All of their seals are pre-validated and field proven on test rigs as well as undergo finite element analysis, 3D modeling, and more to ensure the highest levels of quality and reliability.
To further showcase their proven spring-energized seals and new metal seals, Saint-Gobain Seals will be exhibiting at the 2nd International Conference & Exhibition on Flow Control Exchange on October 3 - 4, 2019 at the Bombay Convention & Exhibition Centre in Mumbai, India.
If you stop by Booth D20, what will you see? The team will share seals developed for cryogenic valves, high pressure seals, new metal seals, composite materials as replacement to bronze and much more critical parts. Please contact the India team to schedule a visit and learn more about their latest seal innovations dedicated to valves, actuation, and flow control systems. If you cannot attend, the team will be happy to contact you before, during or after the show!