By Liz White, ERJ staff
Hertford, UK-The UK Health and Safety Executive is to publish advice on requirements for elastomers in upstream oil and gas operations. These have been developed for the UK safety body by MERL, a Hertford-based research group working with engineering materials and will appear on the HSE website early next year.
Pointing out that â€œthe role of all polymers in the harsh environments associated with gas/oil extraction is critical,â€ if the components are to achieve acceptable service lives, MERL said this is especially the case for elastomers.
Seals of all shapes and sizes, manufactured from a variety of elastomers, must perform without failure if components used offshore are to give a long and uneventful service life, and so allow safe and efficient oil/gas production.
According to MERL this means that everyone involved in design of offshore installations needs to know â€œat least the basic attributes (and weaknesses) of every type of elastomerâ€ used in the sector.
Part 1 of the guidelines from MERL, which incorporate suggestions from various oil and gas industry representatives, includes selection of the appropriate design and operating strategy, with a focus on elastomers for sealing applications.
Part 2 is a review of elastomer use offshore, covering key materials and failures methods as well as listing standards that support the guidelines.