Pumps & Systems, February 2013
About a century ago, the U.S. stood at the epicenter of the global oil & gas industry. The discovery of large amounts of recoverable crude oil in Texas, as well as the burgeoning automobile industry, put the U.S. at the forefront in the development of the petroleum-based economy around the world. Through the years, the U.S.’s status in the oil & gas universe changed. Vast deposits of crude oil in the Middle East, Nigeria, Norway, Venezuela and Canada turned the U.S. into a net importer of petroleum-based fuels. This made the country reliant on the vagaries of the global market, with its wild price fluctuations and threats of often politically-motivated embargoes and production slowdowns.
Today, the U.S. and North America suddenly are poised to resume their former role as the world’s leading providers of petroleum-based fuels and ancillary products. Recent news stories indicate this reversal:
- “IEA Pegs U.S. as Top Oil Producer by 2020,” Wall Street Journal, Nov. 14, 2012—“A shale-oil boom will thrust the U.S. ahead of Saudi Arabia as the world’s largest oil producer by 2020, a radical shift that could profoundly transform not just the world’s energy supplies but also its geopolitics, the International Energy Agency said. In its closely watched annual World Energy Outlook, the IEA…said the global energy map ‘is being redrawn by the resurgence in oil and gas production in the U.S.’”
- “U.S. Monthly Crude Oil Production Reaches Highest Level Since 1998,” U.S. Energy Information Administration, Dec. 4, 2012—“U.S. crude oil production averaged almost 6.5 million barrels per day in September 2012, the highest volume in nearly 15 years. The last time the U.S. produced 6.5 million barrels per day or more of crude oil was in January 1998. Since September 2011, U.S. production has increased by more than 900,000 barrels per day. Most of that increase is due to production…through the use of horizontal drilling combined with hydraulic fracturing. The states with the largest increases (in production) are Texas and North Dakota.”
- “Canada Oil Sands Output Seen Beating Projections,” Reuters, May 17, 2012—“Production in the Canadian oil sands is likely to increase at a much faster clip than the industry currently projects, an analyst said….Andrew Potter, analyst at CIBC World Markets, said he expects production from the oil sands of northern Alberta, the world’s third biggest crude resource, to jump to 2 million to 2.5 million barrels a day by 2020 from 2011’s output of 1.6 million barrels per day.”
This turnaround is driven by advanced technologies, such as enhanced oil recovery (EOR) for traditional oil deposits, and newly discovered sources of “unconventional” oil and gas—such as the shale plays and oil sands, that point to the eventual recovery of billions of barrels of oil and trillions of cubic feet of natural gas. While the race to discover and develop forms of alternative energy continues, it appears that oil & gas will remain the go-to energy commodities around the globe for decades, with the latest research and actual in-the-field activity pointing to an ever-expanding level of importance for the industry in North America.
Within crude oil exploration, recovery, production, refining and transport of fuels and other end-products, the need for safe, reliable, efficient and cost-effective pumping systems are abundant. This article illustrates how one pump technology—specifically the positive displacement sliding vane pump style—can help optimize fluid-transfer operations along the oil & gas production and supply chain.
|Sliding vane pumps have been designed for the high-volume transfer of non-corrosive liquids ranging in viscosity from thin solvents to heavy oils.|
The oil & gas production and supply process is a complicated one with many entry points, all of which can benefit from the incorporation of the proper pumping technology. Generally, the supply chain can be broken down into three distinct sectors: