3 Hazards in an Oil and Gas Industrial Pipe System

3 Hazards in an Oil and Gas Industrial Pipe System

The oil and gas industry deals with many kinds of heavy machinery. From surveying for oil with a weight drop (or “thumper”) truck, drilling with an oil rig, and refining it over time with the help of distillation towers, desalters, fire heaters, and various pumps, producing refined oil requires a number of heavy machines. Meanwhile, the process for capturing natural gas is similarly complex and intensive.

These are overall dangerous processes, and if something goes wrong at any point, nearby workers are at risk. Even when focusing more specifically on oil and gas pipe systems, there are several known risk factors. To learn what these are, read this guide to the hazards in an oil and gas industrial pipe system.

Workers Lack Complete System Knowledge

The first issue is few workers have a comprehensive understanding of the entire pipe system they work on. Many workers don’t receive broad instruction, only specific, compartmentalized guidance for their specific job. The advantage to this is companies don’t need to spend the time and resources comprehensively educating their workers, saving money as they aid one part of the process.

The reality, though, is dealing with pipe system issues is difficult, requiring a comprehensive knowledge to process every variable—what substances are where, how operations upstream affect conditions, and more. For example, disposing of certain chemicals such as ammonia necessitates precise know-how regarding what the substance could react with and how to prevent a violent or noxious reaction. It’s worth taking the time to educate your employees about pipe labels and tags and safe maintenance processes if it prevents these accidents.

High-Pressure Systems

Another hazard in an oil and gas industrial pipe system is the high pressure that can build up as fluids move and change. These pressure buildups can expose existing system weaknesses—an eroded pipeline, perhaps—and lead to a sudden and dangerous system failure. Not only can high pressure expose system wear and induce a failure, but it can also wear down the system over time, leading to an eventual future failure. Either way, excessively high pressure is a danger to workers in close proximity to these systems.

Resonant Vibrations and Thermal Expansion

Additionally, pipe systems experience significant resonant vibrations and thermal expansion, both of which threaten pipe integrity. When a pipe system is too long or the disturbance of the system too violent, ordinary vibrations that travel along a pipeline begin to resonate and grow stronger. Meanwhile, increases in system temperature cause pipes to expand. Expansion joints are one tool for addressing this thermal expansion and vibration, necessary to protect workers from failures because of these variables.

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