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Maintenance 101

Published by , Senior Editor
Hydrocarbon Engineering,

Developing a reliable hydrocarbon sampling programme does not end with implementation. It requires a maintenance service programme that will keep equipment running properly to ensure operator safety and equipment performance. It can be overwhelming to establish an effective hydrocarbon sampling maintenance programme. However, by following a number of steps, a best-in-class programme can be developed.

Maintenance: the next step in representative sampling

Representative sampling combines safety, simplicity and accuracy to deliver benefits unmatched by other sampling methods. In the oil and gas industry, sampling hydrocarbon liquids, such as crude oil, related cuts, condensates, and oil and water mixtures, is critical to ensuring quality control, identifying corrosion and ensuring processes are operating as expected. Representative sampling supports this through real-time data that illustrates the entire process.

However, a true sampling programme does not stop at implementation. Once a sampling programme is in place, it is critical to maintain the equipment in order to ensure operator safety, environmental compliance, sample accuracy and equipment uptime.

It can be challenging to know how to plan and implement a service programme. Plant operators and maintenance personnel are often unsure about how to implement a programme that will help them make strategic decisions around maintaining, updating or replacing sampling equipment. Facilities have specialised teams to handle instrumentation, analysers and most fixed equipment for various aspects of operation. Each of these teams are localised to particular areas of the plant and often do not have trained personnel to effectively manage specialty equipment such as sampling systems.

Developing a reliable maintenance programme

To eliminate equipment maintenance silos, it is important for hydrocarbon processing plants to internally, or with the help of a partner, develop a maintenance programme that meets the needs of all its sampling equipment. Doing this can be overwhelming. However, by following these five best practices, companies can ensure their sampling maintenance programme is successful.

Assess assets

An assessment offers a comprehensive snapshot of all sampling assets in the hydrocarbon plant. It usually includes three components:

Review maintenance backlog

The ‘heart and soul’ of a maintenance programme is often found in the backlog of identified work. This backlog is an essential starting point that gives insight into where to start a comprehensive visual inspection.

Visual inspection

This is the largest portion of an assessment. It includes a comprehensive review of all the existing sampling equipment, including components such as connection points, needles and hoses, and operational states.

Process inspection

Where it is safe and possible, going beyond visual inspection will provide a clear picture of equipment in operation. Physically operating the equipment to assess overall function can provide teams with valuable data to plan a strategic path forward.

Identify sampling needs

From inspection and backlog review, a set of needs can be established within hydrocarbon plants. Each set of needs will need to undergo assessment prior to execution. This assessment of needs includes three phases: diagnose, assess needs and prescribe…

Written by Randy Cruse, Sentry Equipment Corp., USA.

This article was originally published in the May 2020 issue of Hydrocarbon Engineering. To read the full article, and other great technical articles in this issue, view the full issue here. You can also register to receive a free regular copy of the magazine here.

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