Heavy, critical applications require robust pumps with high flow rates. (Images courtesy of Xylem)
How new approaches are helping operators meet operational and sustainability goals.

Oil and gas operations rarely fit a mold. A constant, however, is the need for effective fluid management. Whether it is water being used to flood declining conventional and offshore wells, water being injected to fracture underground shale or steam being used for oil sands extraction, efficient and sustainable fluid handling is crucial to the smooth running of operations.

As climate change pushes sustainability higher up the regulatory agenda, oil and gas operators face intertwined challenges of corporate responsibility and sustainability demands, regulatory compliance and resource efficiency. Recent research identified evolving policies and regulations among the top trends disrupting the industry. Notably, emerging technologies also topped the list.1

As challenges intensify, refinery operators are leaning into advanced technologies and data analytics to deliver better outcomes. Fluid handling is no exception.

By tapping into innovative fluid management strategies and advanced solutions like intelligent monitoring, companies can give operators the tools they need to get ahead of problems. The result is reduced production downtime, lower operating costs, enhanced performance and safety and better environmental outcomes.

IMAGES 1-2: Heavy, critical applications require robust pumps with high flow rates. (Images courtesy of Xylem)

IMAGE 1: Heavy, critical applications require robust pumps with high flow rates. (Images courtesy of Xylem)
IMAGES 1-2: Heavy, critical applications require robust pumps with high flow rates. (Images courtesy of Xylem)

Innovation in Action

Refinery operators are combining innovative fluid handling approaches with cutting-edge technology to deliver impressive results. A case in point is a U.S. refinery that faced an increasingly common challenge: managing wastewater safely and efficiently while dealing with aging infrastructure and tightening environmental regulations.

The refinery’s single-train wastewater infrastructure was showing its age and needed urgent maintenance to meet regulations and avoid costly failure. However, with no redundancy in place, the refinery was looking at the prospect of reducing capacity, or even shutting down, to accommodate an upgrade. Rather than accept the downtime, operators sought alternative solutions to keep the refinery running.

The solution involved an innovative use of flotation equipment, using dissolved nitrogen as a temporary measure to treat wastewater efficiently during maintenance. This approach involved converting a clarifier into a biological treatment basin and using ponds for clarification. The refinery stayed online while the upgrades were deployed, saving costs and ensuring the company was on track to meet environmental commitments.  

In another example, a U.S. refinery needed to increase the flow of cooling water but was constrained by the existing infrastructure, particularly a very short sump.

The operators worked with an expert team to deploy a solution combining advanced engineering and computer modeling. The result was a custom pump with vortex suppression capabilities to accommodate the increased flow requirements within the limited sump depth. This innovative, custom design was crucial to ensure the reliability and efficiency of the cooling system.  

Arming Operators With Real-Time Information  

Digital solutions and data analytics are helping operators take fluid handling to the next level, within and beyond the refinery walls. For instance, advanced remote tracking technology can arm operators with the information they need to respond to potential issues and improve the accuracy of tasks such as pipeline inspections.

When operators are fed actionable information, they spend less time on the road and have more time to dedicate to developing innovative, flexible solutions that preemptively address issues, enhance pipeline safety and minimize the risk of accidents or ruptures.

While fluid management remains complex, oil and gas operators are rising to the challenge with innovative thinking and technologies. Custom solutions help companies solve complex problems while addressing the dual challenges of regulatory compliance and operational efficiency.