Oil and natural gas are major industries in the energy market and play an influential role in the global economy as the world's primary fuel sources. The processes and systems involved in producing and distributing oil and gas are highly complex, capital-intensive and require cutting edge technology.
The industry is often divided into three segments:
upstream, the business of oil and gas exploration and production.
Midstream, transportation and storage.
Downstream, which includes refining and marketing.
UPSTREAM: PRODUCTION AND EXPLORATION
The upstream segment of the oil and gas industry contains exploration activities, which include creating geological surveys, obtaining land rights and production activities, consisting of onshore and offshore drilling.
Oil and gas exploration encompasses the processes and methods involved in locating potential sites for oil and gas drilling and extraction. Geological surveys are conducted using various means from testing subsoil for onshore exploration to using seismic imaging for offshore exploration. Energy companies compete for access to mineral rights granted by governments, by either entering a concession agreement, meaning any discovered oil and gas are exclusive property of the producers, or a production-sharing agreement, where the government retains ownership and participation rights. Exploration is highly risky and expensive, involving primarily corporate funds. However, when an exploration site is successful and oil and gas extraction is productive, exploration costs are recovered and are significantly less impactful with respect to other production costs.
Oil and gas production is one of the most capital-intensive industries and it requires expensive equipment and highly skilled labour. Once a company identifies where oil or gas is located, plants begin by drilling. Many oil and gas companies contract with specialized drilling firms, paying for the labor crew and rig day rates. While every drilling rig has the same essential components, the drilling methods vary depending on the type of oil or gas and the geology of the location.
ONSHORE: in onshore drilling facilities, the wells are grouped together in a field. The group of wells are connected by carbon steel tubes that send the oil and gas to a production and processing facility, where the raw materials are treated through a chemical and heating process. Onshore production companies can turn on and off rigs more easily than offshore rigs to respond to market conditions.
OFFSHORE: offshore drilling uses a single platform that is either fixed (bottom supported) or mobile (floating secured with anchors). Offshore drilling is more expensive than onshore drilling, as are fixed rigs with respect to mobile ones. Most production facilities are located on coastal shores near offshore rigs.
HYDRAULIC FRACTURING: fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is a technique that uses a high-pressure liquid to extract oil or gas fromgeologic formations. The use of fracking has led to a greater ability of recovering gas, followed by oil, from previously inaccessible parts of drilled wells in addition to extractions from coalbed wells, tight sand formations and shale formations.
The midstream sector covers transportation, storage, and trading of crude oil, natural gas and refined products. In its unrefined state, crude oil is transported by two primary modes: tankers, travelling interregional water routes, and pipelines, where most of the oil moves through for at least part of the route. Once the oil has been extracted and separated from natural gas, pipelines transport the products to another carrier or directly to a refinery. Petroleum products then travel from the refinery to market by tanker, truck, railroad car, or more pipelines.
MODES OF TRANSPORTATION
Crude oil moves from wellhead to refinery using tankers, pipelines, trucks, and railroads. Natural gas is transported by pipelines and liquefied natural gas (LNG) tankers.
OIL TANKERS: there are various types of tankers: oil tanker, parcel tanker (chemical vessels), combination carrier (designed to carry oil or solid cargoes in bulk). Tank vessels are classified according to the different types and the three most common categories are crude oil carriers, product carriers (which can carry clean e.g., gasoline and dirty e.g. black oils) and parcel carriers (chemicals). Crude carriers are classed as either VLCCs (Very Large Crude Carriers) or ULCCs (Ultra Large Crude Carriers) and are designed to transport vast quantities of crude oil over many, long and heavily traveled sea routes. In addition, "lightering," offloading or transferring oil from large tankers to smaller ones is used, so that the vessels can enter smaller ports.
PIPELINES: pipelines can refer to gathering systems (wellhead to processing facilities), transmission lines (supply areas to markets) or distribution pipelines (most commonly to transport natural gas to medium or small consumer units). Pipelines play a very critical role in the transportation process because most of the oil moves through them for at least part of the route. After the crude oil is separated from natural gas, pipelines transport it to another carrier or directly to a refinery. Petroleum products then travel from the refinery to market by tanker, truck, railroad tank car, or pipeline. Strategic planning involves determining the shortest and most economical routes where pipelines are built, the number of pumping stations and natural gas compression stations along the line, and terminal storage facilities so that oil from almost any field can be shipped to any refinery on demand. Offshore pipelines carry more risk for leaks and environmental impact than onshore pipelines, but technological advancements in pipeline material and monitoring systems have improved their safety and efficiency.
LNG TANKERS: high pressures and explosions make it difficult to transport compressed natural gas on tankers. Due to scientific advancements, natural gas can be turned to liquid at extremely low temperatures and transported as liquefied natural gas (LNG). LNG tankers are specially designed with double hulls, to allow extra ballast water because LNG is lighter than gasoline and has additional safety benefits.
TANK TRUCKS: historically, railroads were the primary means of petroleum transportation. Today, railroads compete with pipelines: despite being usually a more expensive solution, the already existing railroad infrastructure creates an alternative, more flexible route when pipelines are at capacity. Many petroleum products travel from refineries to markets by tank truck or railroad tank car. Tank trucks deliver gasoline to service stations and heating oil to houses.
STORAGE: storage of oil and natural gas helps smooth out supply and demand discrepancies. Companies store more when the prices are lower than they would like and withdraw when prices are high. The cheapest storage method is underground spaces, such as depleted reservoirs. This method is primarily used for natural gas; finished oil products cannot be stored in underground natural spaces as per regulations. Above ground tanks are used for crude and refined oil, finished oil products, and natural gas. At retail locations, like gas stations, tanks are stored underground for safety reasons. Tanker ships are used for temporary storage when land storage is at capacity, making it the most expensive option.
DOWNSTREAM: REFINING AND MARKETING
The downstream sector covers refining and marketing. While refining is a complex process, the goal is straightforward: take crude oil, which is virtually unusable in its natural state, and transform it into petroleum products used for a variety of purposes such as heating homes, fueling vehicles and making petrochemical plastics. Refineries are usually located near population centers to facilitate marketing and distribution of final products. Marketing is the wholesale and retail distribution of refined petroleum products to business, industry, government, and public consumers.
Generally, crude oil and petroleum products flow to the markets that provide the highest value to the supplier, which usually means the nearest market first because of lower transportation cost and higher net revenue for the supplier. In practice, however, the trade flow may not follow this pattern due to other factors, such as refining configurations, product demand mix, and product quality specifications.
TMC DRY-TYPE TRANSFORMERS FOR OIL & GAS INDUSTRY
TMC Transformers SpA is a very well know dry-type transformers manufacturing company with relationships and presences to support a worldwide business. Thanks to the acquired experiences in different market sectors, TMC can offer a suitable solution of dry-type transformers for many different applications. According to the short description of the oil and gas industry, it is easy to understand that there are many applications for dry-type transformers but there are also specific and very tough requirements. In the offshore area, the demands for safety and reliability are particularly stringent. Whether it is for energy supply to the crew quarters, for the power supply to the drilling module or for the production compressors, the toughest of standards are demanded. Installations can be on drilling platforms, production rigs or on any Floating Production Storage Offloading (FPSO) unit.
In no other field, the expectations for the material used are as high as in the offshore area installations which can be on drilling platforms, production rigs or on any Floating Production Storage Offloading (FPSO) unit. TMC dry-type transformers are exceptionally safe and reliable. Both the electrical and the mechanical properties of this technology ensure a maximum of reliability and enable it to be used in virtually every environment. As almost no flammable materials are used during manufacturing process, the dry-type technology is highly recommended when you have a fire load and explosion hazard. In onshore plants, equipment is exposed to very different conditions. As the production plants can be located both at very low and at very high temperature, mechanical stability and protection against environmental influences are of particular importance.
The H-Art 180°C technology and type tested product according toE4, C3 and F1classes of TMC dry-type transformer is the right solution for these heavy environmental conditions.
Due to the typical location in coastal, oil & gas terminals sites entail special demands in terms of corrosion and degree of protection. The TMC dry-type transformers already have many references in these working conditions for solution with enclosure up to IP56 and for outdoor installation.
Talking about refinery we can find a variety of different applications for transformers, where the customer asks for very disparate requirements. On the one hand, standard distribution transformers are required for general energy supply, and on the other hand different special transformers for the drive systems of the pumps and compressors which can be installed in a wide variety of environmental conditions.
In this case TMC dry-type transformers offer the required flexibility and decades of experiences. As TMC Transformers SpA manufactures both standard and special transformers, we can offer a suitable solution for every requirement and a certified solution for hazardous area Zone 1 & Zone 2 compliant with IEC ATEX standards.
Whether with ships or with onshore and offshore pipelines, availability is of particular importance in the transportation of oil and gas. Considering that dry-type transformers are virtually maintenance-free products, TMC Transformers can assure a higher availability of the transformer.