Flow Control Valves: Energy Markets Common Problems—and Solutions

Flow Control Valves: Energy Markets Common Problems—and Solutions

Posted: July 6, 2023

The oil and gas industry requires strategic and consistent navigation through operational challenges. Among these, flow control problems can be especially costly, as they interrupt production rates. This downtime quickly adds up to hundreds of thousands of lost dollars daily.

With an expert understanding of these challenges, their causes, and effective product solutions, Gilmore’s adaptable and modular technologies are designed to help limit flow control obstacles. We’ve spent years developing and testing high-performance products to improve in-service control system reliability.

From developing reliable control valve solutions, enhancing old systems and infrastructure, Gilmore transforms operations with best-in-class flow control solutions. Let’s take a look at some of the energy market’s most common roadblocks—and how Gilmore can help.

Photographer: Tom Carpenter | Source: Shutterstock

1. Updating Aging Systems and Infrastructure

In the oil and gas industry, aging systems and infrastructure problems can cause major risk challenges. Many structures are decades old and require updates. This can lead to pollution, safety issues, inefficiencies, and significantly higher operational costs. The industry also faces increased scrutiny from regulators and the public, who are concerned about environmental damage and the risks of accidents.

Gilmore offers tailored solutions for drilling, production, downhole, and unconventional sectors to combat the following problems.

Unreliable BOP Control Systems

Blowout preventers are designed to safely handle sudden changes in pressure and uncontrolled flow arising from a well during drilling. Unreliable and unresponsive blowout preventer (BOP) control systems increase the risk of failure, which poses a key safety risk.

Gilmore develops state-of-the-art replacement components to support upgrades of aging blowout preventer control systems. By leveraging the latest technology, our GEN2 and Mark IV shuttle valves, GEN2 Hydraulic Pilot regulators, and sub-plate mounted (SPM) valves are some of the many valves that support aging blowout preventer control system upgrades to improve reliability even in the harshest conditions.

Mark IV shuttle valves provide means for multiple actuation redundancies eliminating the need for coining. And the GEN2 Hydraulic Pilot regulators, SPMs, and GEN2 shuttle valves are capable of advanced pressure management. This enables better regulation, improved stability, and enhanced durability. Essentially, Gilmore’s next generation components significantly improve BOP control system reliability and responsiveness—increasing valve cycle life to meet offshore industry requirements of 5-year service life under normal operating conditions.

Obsolete Air Dome Pressure-Operated Check Valves

Gilmore’s innovative solutions and aftermarket capabilities offer clients upgrades for outdated and even obsolete products still in the field. It’s uncommon to come across equipment in operation for two decades without having undergone maintenance in that time frame. Surprisingly, our team was recently approached by a concerned client regarding an obsolete pneumatic piloted check valve in this exact situation—20+ years of operation without repairs and requiring replacement.

Gilmore’s engineers were able to rapidly design a GEN2 drop-in replacement for the legacy valve, which was obsoleted back in 2002. This quick and innovative solution allowed the customer to upgrade the system without having to re-pipe or refit the control system to get back up and running.

oil rig infrastructure using flow control technology
Source: Shutterstock

2. Upgrading Flow Control Systems for More Efficiency

One of the biggest challenges for oil and gas companies is maximizing control system efficiency, especially while also balancing increased regulatory scrutiny. System upgrades are necessary to maintain compliance with new standards; however, they can also be incredibly costly and time-consuming. But with Gilmore’s extensive experience and expertise with control systems, they don’t have to be.

High Cost of Seal Replacement

By providing re-lapping services, Gilmore offers clients a cost-effective alternative to complete seal replacement. Gilmore’s core competency lap room technology enables precise and consistent reconditioning of Tungsten Carbide seals to restore full functionality and extend their lifespan. The process entails the removal of any imperfections or surface irregularities on the seal face to prevent leakage and ensure proper sealing.

BOP Hydraulic Lock Problems

One of Gilmore’s top clients urgently needed to address a reverse flow hydraulic locking problem in a blowout preventer (BOP) circuit, where control fluid pressure prevented the movement of critical components.

To resolve the issue, Gilmore offered a comprehensive solution with GEN2 check valves (PN 29173) along with customized conversions for in-field GEN2 Mark IV shuttle valves to support the problem resolution and get the drillship back into operation, allowing the BOP to function without issue.

3. Improving Regulator Performance and Deck Testing Efficiency

Well testing assists in the prediction of oil or gas production capabilities and trends. Our recent client presented problems with vibrating and wandering regulators during testing, which caused fittings to loosen due to excessive shaking. This resulted in time-consuming deck testing—which required additional labor hours, equipment operation, and thus funds.

The Gilmore team provided the client our new regulator with damping technology to test as an alternative. The GEN2 10ksi regulator provided reliable, smooth hydraulic pressure that cut deck testing time by more than an hour. How so? Because every added feature to our new GEN2 regulator specifically addresses observed field performance.

The guided hydraulic damping technology minimizes dynamic oscillation, while the improved bolted plunger guide enhances guidance. In addition, the upgraded dynamic plunger T-seal eradicates spiral wound O-ring failures, and the lower deadband is thanks to an improved set point resolution.

Poor Functioning Due to Dirty Control Fluid

At Gilmore, we see contaminated, dirty, or solids-laden control fluid causing problems for clients over and again. Whether in offshore platforms, distributed control systems, hydraulic power units, drilling, downhole, or unconventional systems, dirty control fluid is a common cause of inefficiency and downtime. Hydraulic systems require state-of-the-art control fluids with highly precise valve and infrastructure performance.

To improve performance and efficiency, Gilmore valves are designed with high debris tolerance. Our cartridge valves provide a tested, reliable, debris-tolerant seal in both directions, as well as a modular design that simplifies maintenance and reduces leak paths. With less debris, other system components are less prone to wear and tear, thus improving service life and reducing the overall cost of ownership for our clients.

technician working with flow control technology
Source: Shutterstock

4. Developing Reliable and Efficient Pressure Relief Valve Solutions

We often hear customers communicating their dissatisfaction with electronic pressure relief valve (EPRV) solutions, stating that they are unreliable, unavailable, and that equipment support services fall short. In addition, customers feel that commercial agreements are unclear and maintenance charges post-job are unfair.

At Gilmore, we don’t only pride ourselves on providing best-in-class, highly reliable, essential flow control solutions, but we aim to give every client the after-sales attention they need to optimize results. We ensure proper installation and setup to offset challenges and provide all documentation to set our clients up for success.

Gilmore Electronic pressure relief valve systems in development offer benefits in terms of flow control redundancy that are not present in other systems. In comparison to other suppliers’ products, we utilize a combination of valves to achieve both bleed and relief capability that can be customized to the customer’s volume requirement. This should decrease the time workers need to spend with extra equipment or replacing equipment, and it minimizes safety events and potential injury or NPT.

Inconsistent Mechanical Relief Valves and High Maintenance Flapper Check Valves

Mechanical relief valves remain inconsistent and time-consuming to reset. They also require frequent service and maintenance multiple times throughout the year at a considerable cost to customers. The Agiliti™ Relief Valve can replace burst disks or underperforming relief valves with a much longer service period and it only takes seconds to adjust the relief pressure when necessary. It is vastly becoming one of the most robust valves in the market, the design prioritizes safety and reliability with consistent and automated pressure relief.

Many flapper check valves still average under 100 hours of service before maintenance and repair kits are needed. This means clients need to stock large inventories and assign human capital to maintain systems, repairs, and re-certifications. Our Agiliti™ Check Valves serve as an extended-life solution to existing check valves. They effectively prevent backflow to upstream assets and we have options for both high flow (16 BPM) and standard flow (6 BPM) applications with tested operating ranges to 350+ hours before required repairs. We are actively testing options that should deliver 500+ hours of service between repairs.

Gilmore’s new Agiliti™ Product Line brings precision performance in even the most severe working environments. The product range is specifically designed to help unconventional operators boost efficiencies, reduce operational costs, and increase profitability.

Increase Efficiency, Safety, and Revenue with Gilmore Flow Control Solutions

With years of experience and hands-on development of new adaptable and modular solutions, Gilmore leverages the technologies that have established its solid reputation to meet customer needs, while providing results that increase revenue and productivity.

From hydraulic control valves for surface and subsea application drilling solutions to servicing downhole operations, Gilmore goes beyond standard applications to provide flow control solutions in the toughest environments. Despite operating conditions that push the limits, our team of expert engineers always prioritize operational efficiency, safety, and reliability.

Our wide variety of flow control valve designs employ soft- and shear-sealing technologies with specialty materials and tungsten carbide to achieve industry-leading seal reliability and durability. In addition to supporting safe and highly reliable infrastructure, we ensure proper installation and setup of our components by including the necessary documentation to set our clients up for success.

Safeguarding essential infrastructure always works in optimal condition is key to reducing operational costs, keeping productivity high, and maintaining safety. At Gilmore, we embrace any opportunity to work with you on customized flow control valve developments from their initiation through to successful deployment. Schedule a call today and start reaping the benefits of optimized flow control performance.

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