• 8305 McIntyre Road, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada T6E 5J7

Plainsman – Meet our Leaders: President Derek Duncombe

A Natural, Solutions-Driven Leader

Growing up playing hockey and captaining his team, Derek’s always been a natural, solutions-driven leader, and the determination, collaboration, and relationship building skills he earned playing hockey manifested in his work at Plainsman. Moving from the shop to the office in inside sales, after about four years, Derek became the inside sales manager running the order desk and liaising with the shop. In that role, he honed his managerial and leaderships skills while continuing to engage with transparency, honesty, and good, old-fashioned hard work. “Without your customers and suppliers, you are nothing,” Derek says, noting that his sales strategy has always been to “bend over backwards” for customers and to ensure that they “had high quality products on time.”

Growth Strategy: Thinking Outside the Box

In 2005, Derek invested in Plainsman, staying on as the sales manager, and mentoring under previous owner and president, Lee Makelki, as he transitioned into a VP role. Both Lee and Derek shared the same outlook and strategy for the business and worked closely together until Derek, along with Mike Kittlitz (VP of Sales and Business Development), Mark Lea-Wilson (Innovation Director), and Thomas Makelki (International Sales) united in a shared vision to buy Plainsman in October 2014. The new ownership group knew they needed to do something different to continue to grow and succeed, deciding “to think outside of the box and see where it took us.”

Almost immediately after taking on the leadership role as president, however, the economy tanked with the worst downturn in history, forcing the new ownership group to make some tough decisions. But Derek and his partners didn’t waver in their vision or goals for Plainsman, committing to running it with a consistent strategy: growing with customers, continually improving product, and expanding both reach and capabilities. Despite the recession, Derek has led Plainsman through an international expansion that’s secured loyal customer partnerships around the world in Colombia, Australia, Mexico, and the middle east, in addition to pursuing initiatives like United Energy, which combines heat and power technology to recapture energy for heating, and the Gridline Project, a community think tank that guides innovation. The goal, Derek says, “is to reach out to people we typically wouldn’t talk to, to get like-minded people together to say, ‘How can I help you? How can you help me?’ We are hoping for it to bring us work but we just want to open our connections with people, to get closer to the people in the field touching the tools. They have ideas that we are not going to come up with sitting in the office.”

Leading Plainsman Through the Economic Downturn

A big part of Plainsman’s success continues to be relationship driven. By working closely with customers, Derek and his team listen to their needs and their challenges, and problem-solve accordingly. Whether finding new ways to support customer operations, innovating products for specific customer applications, or utilizing robotics for both precision and capacity, Plainsman is growing to meet both market and customer needs. “We just do what we say and say what we do,” Derek says, “We put out a product that works and we are always looking at making it better. What leaves our shop is fully inspected and we are confident it’s going to work, and that our customers won’t have issues with it. We make sure we have the right stock because if we don’t have it on the shelf, we’re letting our customers down. If they put an order in and we tell them that it’s going to be ready for shipment on Oct 1st, it’s important to me it is shipped October 1st. Our customers know when they phone us that they are getting the right product, a quality product, and on time.”

With the results of the recent federal election and economic uncertainty, Derek is focused on strategic growth and communicating that Plainsman has unparalleled, in-house manufacturing capabilities with an agile leadership team. “The key right now, in this economy,” Derek says, “is to be small enough to be agile but big enough that customers send us work and have confidence in our abilities.” What that looks like at Plainsman Manufacturing, is a small ownership group that can sit down and make decisions in an afternoon while also having a hands-on approach to management and operations. “And we can do more than people think,” Derek says, “What we have here – in-house welding, robotics, our engineering team – surprises people. When customers come in for a shop tour, they often say, ‘I didn’t realize you could do that,’ or ‘I didn’t know you had the space to stock that.’ We can do things tailored to our customer’s needs.”  

Plainsman’s Culture: Coaching and Connection

Together, Plainsman’s ownership group guides their team toward both short and long-term goals, enabling and supporting Plainsman employees to engage with the business, to bring their own ideas to the table and see them through. The team at Plainsman knows their leadership intimately, and that’s intentional. Many employees have been at Plainsman for decades, not just years, which is a testament to Derek’s leadership style – he’s stoic and dependable, straightforward and fair. People know what he expects and trust him to make the best decisions for the company, particularly since he often employs a coaching approach to leadership: “I know hockey fairly well and its pretty easy to relate it to what we do here on a daily basis,” he says, “We have people who work well with certain people or in certain situations, so you always juggle that around. Revenue is tied to spending, just like in sports, the more revenue you have the more you can spend on people, machines, and inventory.”

Derek knows that people rely on him to make the right choice. “It weighs on me,” he says, “and I think of it nightly. We get along well here, we have a good team. I think everyone is aware that when things need to get done, you put your nose down and do it, but if we have a little time to enjoy ourselves, then we do that as well. These are trying times and the culture can take a beating. Ownership has stepped up and made sure that money stays in the company, while paying down some debt, and the majority of our people have kept their jobs. That is key. We take that as a win.”

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Problem-Solving is What We Do: Innovation at Plainsman Manufacturing

In today’s market, innovation is a buzz word, it’s overused and often meaningless. Everyone knows that innovation is the key to our future (we must innovate to survive) and the push for it is huge, but the demand for innovation – new ideas, new products, new methods – is largely unmet. At Plainsman Manufacturing, we don’t toss around the word innovation lightly, we’re serious about it. For us, it’s not just an abstract concept, it’s what we are: we’re innovators.

And, as innovators, we know that mistakes are part of the engineering process and we constantly seek feedback to discover patterns, to understand challenges, and to grasp the big picture so that we can develop solutions. Because the best person to design something is the person who has the problem. It doesn’t matter if it’s in our shop or in the field, that’s how we help our customers. They know what the problem is, and they might even have a good idea on how to solve it, they just need the expertise to get it right.

Assembling the Right Team and Understanding the Problem

Everything we do at Plainsman is customer driven, which means that improvements, modifications, and new product design is ongoing – problem-solving is what we do. And while we’re tireless and methodical, we don’t use a prescriptive approach when it comes to research and development. Instead, we start with assembling the right team and understanding the problem. Ensuring that we have the right people on our innovation team is integral to a project’s success. When there is a challenging design problem, like with the PL5 centralizing couplings where a customer needed the coupling to fit with power rod tongs, we had a diverse team involved: all of our engineers, machinists from our shop, sales personnel, and the customer to help us diverge and then converge.

When it comes to those early brainstorming sessions where we’re conceptualizing, determining feasibility, and putting together early prototypes, we work quickly, learning as much as we can in as little time as we can. At this stage, feedback and field input is crucial to understanding the issue and coming up with solutions; here, effective communication is imperative. People make assumptions and we make mistakes; in fact, in the industry, the ongoing joke is that you can assume anything want in engineering. But at Plainsman, we write our assumptions down because we recognize that we can be wrong. We talk with the customer, get those assumptions checked, ask for verification.

Depending on the project, we’ll develop one or two prototypes simultaneously and perform lab testing (we call this verification and validation). We strive for Rapid Feedback Development Loops, so sometimes the customer is also involved in the lab testing. At that stage, we’ll tweak the design and do more detailed calculations before field testing the product. Every step of the way, we rely on feedback, working closely with our customers to adjust the design as needed. Sometimes that means we scrap a design because it’s not working as planned and start over, sometimes that means we modify it further.

Customer-Driven Innovations: The Shear Coupling

Many of our innovation projects stem from years of feedback, little improvement suggestions we’ve catalogued and noted from various customers, enough to warrant an exploration into modifying the product for efficiency and function. Other times, a customer will send the component back to us for our input on what happened. One of these customer driven innovations was for our shear couplings. The whole purpose of a shear coupling is to break when you want it to, not when you don’t. On this one, we noticed that most of the reported fractures were in approximately the same location, so we sent them out for forensic analysis and learned that the fractures were caused by bending and torque, resulting in fatigue.

Basically, you have some tension in the rod string, you have some torque from turning the rod string, and then there is an unknown amount of bending. All those loads combine to stress the metal, which has a specific strength, so if you over stress it, it’s going to break. The thing with fatigue is that it’s incremental over time, and it’s caused by fluctuating stress. In theory, if the mean and alternating stresses are known, fatigue life can be predicted, but in reality, all we know is how long the shear coupling was in use. We don’t have actual, real-time data about loading. So, not knowing magnitudes but knowing method, we designed the next level of shear coupling, our ToughTorq™, to be more resistant to fatigue caused by bending and torsion. We wrote a new material specification with more specific mechanical requirements for the material strength and ductility. We specifically chose properties to improve fatigue resistance and added sections of flexibility to allow the shear coupling to bend a little so it’s not resisting so much. A good analogy is it’s like fighting with your kids. If you resist fighting with them, they actually do what you want. Essentially, we’re making our shear couplings more accepting.

The next step was our WireTorq™ shear coupling which decoupled the bending from the torque – like a CV joint in your car or a ball and socket joint in your hip – and replaced the pins with a wire, so when you apply a torque and bending, it doesn’t go through the shaft the same way. This means that the combined stress is greatly reduced and the shear coupling essentially becomes stronger.

Customer-Driven Innovations: Spin-Thru Centralizing Couplings

Because wells are being drilled deeper and more horizontal, we’re asking the steel to do more work than ever before – meaning that we need higher strength materials. The ToughTorq™ PL5 centralizing coupling is a higher strength version of our PL5 centralizing coupling that was initiated by a customer’s request to operate continuously under higher torque. The ToughTorq™ can handle higher torque, but it basically operates the same as the PL5. The design goal for our new ToughTorq™ PLB centralizing coupling (under development) was to make a high performance PL5 centralizer capable of operating continuously under high torque that can be installed by power rod tongs. To test these innovations in the field, our international sales lead, Thomas Makelki took 3D printed parts to a customer in Australia to get onsite, comprehensive feedback. At the same time, we did a lot of work trying to figure out how those parts physically could be built. There was a lot of design for manufacturing for assembly (DFMA) and a lot of research into how to get it together before we sent it to the customer. On this project, having boots on the ground and meeting the end user in person helped us understand and hone the design – it was paramount to our success – especially since their feedback was the opposite of what we’d anticipated.

We Don’t Just Improve Our Products, We Also Improve Our Approach to Innovation

Our commitment to innovation includes improving how we innovate. In the fall of 2018, we sent a multidisciplinary team – our Innovation Director, Mark Lea-Wilson, two of our design engineers Jackie Kyriacou-Herman and Tyler Dyck, and our VP of Sales and Business Development, Mike Kittlitz, and innovation consultant, Steve Martens – to Mount Royal College’s Alberta Manufacturer Innovation Accelerator (AMIA) program to heighten our desire for innovation and growth, to clarify our innovation process and the tools that make it happen, to build peer relationships, and to improve project execution. In the four-month program we learned that you need to make mistakes faster. Mistakes are okay but you need to learn from them, and you need to move on to the next thing faster. We mapped it on different steps and processes from brainstorming to working the idea out and bringing it to market, and when we plotted it on a chart it was two months. We stagnated, flip-flopped, and questioned if we really wanted to follow this idea or something else. Seeing that was eye opening. We can do this faster. We need to. And that need is both the goal and the driver at Plainsman.

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Record Number of Oil Moved by Train!

Record Number of Oil Moved by Train!

Plainsman Manufacturing


Canada waits for the construction of more pipelines whilst breaking records in oil exports. Statistics by the New National Energy Board set the record at 199,000 barrels of oil exported per day in the month of May. This growth is promising and will not slow down in the near future. Statistics show that the number is expected to grow about 500,000 barrels more per day during the next two years. However, the construction of new rail lines plays an increasingly crucial role in the successful transportation of oil.

Canadian oil sand producers continue to see growth in the output volume of oil as investment in pipeline projects continue to expand. Since existing pipelines are currently full, oil sand producers’ growth is highly dependent on the execution and development of these projects.

Given this situation, producers are turning to trains for transportation of crude oils and the demand for new rail lines is only going to grow until the necessary pipelines are implemented.

Consequently, prices are being affected seeing how rail line alternatives have higher transportation costs. Adding the needed pipeline capacity will allow Alberta to receive US $7 more for each barrel than transporting it via railing to the U.S.

On top of that, some oil services had to slow down this year since trains were busy with the transportation of other commodities such as grains. The appropriate investments have been made in capital, locomotive power and personnel to ultimately grow Canada’s oil transportation capacity through new rail lines. The investments make sense since the country is rich in oils and hence needs to exploit its resources efficiently. While pipelines have been the main source for transporting oil in Canada, railway has become increasingly important as well

Canadian Pacific Railway said it ran about 20,000 carloads, 60 trains each month in just one quarter. Some oil companies are looking to make long term investments and deals with railways companies.

Although transporting oil through rail lines is an important project in Canada today, moving oil by pipelines is less expensive and safer. Therefore, oil producers have nothing left but to wait for more pipelines to be built and use trains as the alternative to transport oil. The absence of enough pipelines has caused a spike of oil transported to the United States via trains since 2010. This trend is sure to continue spiking as demand for oil grows and the lack of pipeline forces producers to turn to trains for alternative transportation.

Find out more about who we are and the progress we stand for at Plainsman Manufacturing here: Learn More!

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Will Russia’s new tax reforms result in its strengthened position on an international crude oil market?

For the first time, since 1999 Russia has decided to implement radical changes to its taxation system on crude and oil products export. The government goal is to raise funds for a far-sighted plan to inject it back into the local economy.

The major changes to expect are the following:

–    A steady decrease in export duties on crude and oil products until they cease to exist by 2024. The idea is to substitute export duties with higher oil extraction taxes instead.

–    To relieve the burden of increased processing costs, local refineries will be offered tax breaks. To receive a tax break the refinery has to meet one of the following criteria: bearing large transportation costs, have a minimum investment of 60 billion in upgrades between 2016 and 2024, have at least 10% of total output consist of high-octane gasoline products or conform to international sanctions.

Should international market expect a rise in Russia’s oil export?

The refineries which will not receive tax breaks make up only a small fraction of the total output, resulting in an unlikely event of seeing a considerable increase in the country’s oil export volume. With growing oil market prices, drafted reforms include a mechanism which will deter Russia’s major oil producers from focusing on exports by allowing for a re-establishment of high export duties.

Who wins?

High extraction taxes would ultimately place a greater burden on the consumers, specifically those in Belarus and Kazakhstan who are a part of Eurasian Economic Union. With the new tax system in place, consumers will be bearing higher production tax already factored into the price.

How will it affect oil export internationally?

With Russia being one of the top 3 oil producers worldwide, if an international oil market will be seeing no substantial increase in its export there is a lower chance in an increase in oil prices. As commented by Russia’s officials the primary goal is to localize the effects of new duty-free policy and bring in additional funds to Russia’s national budget.

At all times Plainsman is dedicated to providing the kind of personal service and attention our customers deserve.  We are constantly in search of new and better products and services to match our customer’s needs and the demands of the industry. Give us a call today at 1-877-448-0586 to find out more information about services and products we offer.

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Enbridge Inc’s Line 3 pipeline project gets approved.

A project worth $9-billion to restore Line 3 pipeline leaves the Canadian oil and gas industry in anticipation of a future rise in price and profits. The upgrade is expected to substantially increase export capacity into the United States with 375,000 additional barrels per day.

Experts are optimistic about the approval and the effects it will have on sustaining Canada’s competitiveness in the industry. Moreover, the project will help eliminate congestion created in the pipeline bottleneck that had forced Canadian oil producer to accept a high discount for their product compared to the U.S. benchmark.

Line 3 improvement is expected to facilitate increased product outflow to the U.S. Midwest, largest importer of Canadian crude oil, as well as the rest of Canada thus supporting existing markets and helping the growth of new ones.

One of the biggest challenges that may delay the construction process is civil protests which are driven by environmental concerns. As to avoid an unpleasant outcome, negotiations currently take place between Enbridge and the Fond Du Lac Band. If no agreement is reached, Enbridge will have to re-route a piece of the pipeline that comes across Band’s land.


What to expect?

To Alberta’s refiners, business and labour groups the project means more jobs, $2.5 billion investment in the state and less crude traveling by rail.

Line 3 is critical in supplying enough crude oil across the country to produce fuel and asphalt.

Predictions are that oilsands production will rise by 1.55 million bpd by 2035, states the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers.

Plainsman Manufacturing as a manufacturer and distributor of products for oilfield production and pipeline maintenance is closely tied to projects such as Line 3 pipeline upgrade. From projects of national importance to smaller scale ones, plainsman is committed to providing the highest standards in manufacturing and engineering.  Safety and quality are a priority for us. To get more information about our products and services give us a call today at 1-877-448-0586 and our team of experts will be happy to assist you.

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Pipeline Work to Resume in August

The work on the Trans Mountain pipeline will resume in August 2018 to prepare a route for the expansion of the pipeline. Work was suspended by Kinder Morgan in April due to disputes between the Alberta and British Columbia governments

In late May, the federal government bought the $4.5 billion pipeline to ensure that it got built, but the Liberal Government doesn’t plan on being the long-term owners of the pipeline.

The project’s aim is to expand an existing Trans Mountain pipe line from Edmonton to the British Columbia coast to allow an increase of oil from Alberta to be shipped to foreign markets. Given the oil price discounts Alberta must swallow due to pipeline bottlenecks and the lack of access to markets outside the United States, the pipeline is critical.

But the British Columbian government, environmental activists and some Indigenous groups have been opposed to it, causing tension between Albert and British Columbia.

Ian Anderson, the head of Kinder Morgan Canada says that the company will secure, survey and prepare the right-of-way in the coming months, and First Nations will monitor the work in order to look for traditional artifacts and medicines.

This means that they anticipate laying physical pipe in a “prepared, surveyed, environmentally protected right-of-way”.

The completion date of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion is said to be announced later.

Anderson says that the most important thing for him is to get started to demonstrate to Canadians and to his prospective new owners that this project can be executed in a manner that serves the interests of everybody.

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What do the NAFTA Negotiations Mean for Alberta Oil and Gas Industry?

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is a trade agreement between Canada, the United States and Mexico signed in 1992 that gradually eliminated tariffs and trade barriers between the three countries

The terms of the agreement are on the table in hopes of modernizing the deal for the current time.

The NAFTA negotiations commenced upon the election of US President Donald Trump. Reopening NAFTA was part of his election campaign in order to put “America First”.

Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, stated he is looking forward to the modernization of NAFTA although he doesn’t now agree with president Trump’s reasoning to reopen the deal.

So, what does the NAFTA negotiations means for Alberta Oil and Gas Industry?

The current 23-year old trade deal has driven North American oil and gas renaissance and paved the way for $34 billion worth of energy exports to Canada and Mexico last year.

It is likely that the deal will expand to cover new technology and intellectual property, showing modernization of the 23-year old trade deal.

Alberta has a huge stake in NAFTA. Alberta has become an important part of U.S. energy imports due to energy trade liberalization under NAFTA. Alberta is the US’ largest supplier of natural gas at the moment, averaging nearly $90 billion a year over the past five years.

The US is also Alberta’s largest trading partner for food and agriculture products. Alberta also does billions of dollars in trades in plastics, machinery and organic chemicals.

If the US withdraws from NAFTA, trading to the US will not stop, but it will get more expensive. Changes to NAFTA can reduce investment protection or revert to high tariffs and trade barriers that preceded NAFTA. This could put at risk the tens of millions of jobs in Western Canada because Alberta has the largest number of jobs tied to exports to the US.

Reverting to the old Canada-US Free Trade Agreement would mean that trade between the countries would be governed by higher World Trade Organization tariff schedules. This would also give opportunity for President Trump to impose tariffs that may inflict damage in certain sectors.

For Alberta, a World Trade Organization tariff schedule would see tariffs applied on petroleum liquids crossing the border. Heavy oil from the Athabasca oil sands would face a higher fee than light oil.

Ultimately, the NAFTA negotiations could be a deal breaker for Canada. The current NAFTA agreement creates efficiency and clarity. But without NAFTA, there wouldn’t be any dispute mechanisms in place, and Canada would have to go through the US courts with every trade dispute.

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US Lifts Keystone Oil Pipeline Pressure Restrictions

In November of 2017, TransCanada had to shut down the Keystone pipeline after a spill in South Dakota. They were ordered to operate at a reduced pressure later that month. The restriction was only limited to a small part of the pipeline that links Alberta’s oil sands to US refineries.


As of December 1, pressure restrictions were in place from the pipeline’s Luverne pump station to Ludden pump station and on the segment that had the leak. Reduce flows on the Keystone pipeline helped drawn down inventories in the Cushing, Oklahoma storage hub.


On April 3rd, 2018 TransCanada requested that the remaining pressure restrictions on the Keystone pipeline be lifted and the PHMSA approved the request.


In early May 2018, pressure restrictions on TransCanada Keystone pipeline were lifted by the US pipeline safety regulators.


Returning to full capacity on the pipeline is expected to help relieve a bottleneck in Alberta caused by an increased in production with a shortage of pipeline and rail capacity.


A glut of oil has overwhelmed pipeline access markets and contributed to big differences between bitumen-blend Western Canadian Select oil and West Texas Intermediate oil. The price of Western Canadian Select oil went from highs of about US$30 to US$17 per barrel and has caused a series of maintenance shutdowns at oil sand producing facilities that had to reduce production.


The lower prices have led some companies to produce less heavy oil in the first quarter, while companies such as Husky Energy Inc. started buying heavy oil for use in its refineries because it was cheaper than producing its own oil.


Paul Miller, TransCanada’s head of liquids, said in a conference that there wouldn’t be a big increase in their throughput once the ban is lifted based on some changes they have already made. This means that the lift would be a minor input on TransCanada’s throughput.


TransCanada has been moving historical volumes with drag-reducing agents and the lift will make it easier for TransCanada to operate.


What do you think about the restriction lift? Let us know in the comments below.

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What is Bitumen and Why a Pipeline is Important?

What is Bitumen and Why a Pipeline is Important?

Bitumen is a naturally occurring, highly viscous hydrocarbon contained within the oil sands deposits. Bitumen is usually solid at room temperature and has a tar-like consistency. It must be diluted or heated to flow through pipelines because it does not flow freely.

Like crude oil, Bitumen is made up of hydrocarbons, but it also contains more carbon than hydrogen, and more impurities such as nitrogen, Sulphur and heavy metals. Impurities must be removed and the carbon-hydrogen imbalance must be corrected in order to produce synthetic crude oil.

Bitumen is processed in three steps:

  1. Extraction– solid and water are removed
  2. Upgrading– upgrade heavy bitumen into lighter, intermediate crude oil product
  3. Refining– Refine crude oil into final products such as diluents, lubricants and gasoline

Bitumen Extraction

The hot-water process is used to extract bitumen from oil sand. Mined oil sand contains 10 to 12% bitumen and the rest is made up of mineral matter and water.

The oil sand is mixed with water in a processing drum or pipeline during the hot-water process. Bitumen float upwards when droplets of bitumen separate from the grains of sand and attach themselves to small air bubbles.

A mixture called slurry is created and it is sent to the separation vessels where bitumen-rich froth is skimmed from the top. Coarse sand is pumped to disposal sites when it is settled.


Bitumen Upgrading

88-95% of bitumen mined in oil sands is recovered. Bitumen extracted from the oil sands require extra processing or upgrading before it can be turned into products such as fuel and sold to refineries. Bitumen is upgraded by coking the bitumen and by hydro-processing, or a combination of the two.

Coking bitumen involves removing carbon from the fractions of bitumen. It also involves thermally cracking the heavy fractions at 468 to 498 degrees Celsius to product lighter fractions and petroleum coke.

Hydro-processing bitumen involves adding hydrogen. It offers higher liquid yields, better distillate qualities and lower emission levels of Sulphur dioxide compared to coking, but at a much higher expense.


Crude Oil Refining

Crude oil is turned into final products for consumers and industrial use in refineries. These produces include fuels such as gasoline, diesel, kerosene and consumer products such as oil lubricants and asphalt.


Why is a Pipeline Important?

Crude oil from the Alberta oil sands is commonly transported to US and Canadian refineries by pipeline. A pipeline transports gas and oil from remote producing regions to Canada and the United State’s more populated areas.

Pipelines are a safe way of transporting gas and oil over long distances and also the most practical way to deliver oil and gas.

Pipelines are important because Canadians rely on natural gas and products made from crude oil to meet more than two-thirds of their energy needs every day. Pipelines are the energy lifelines of almost every activity of daily life. Natural resources like crude oil and natural gases are consumed daily.

Pipelines are an important industry to Canada’s economy, providing jobs and tax revenues. Pipelines are expected to add $175 billion to Canada’s economy over the next 30 years.

Plainsman Manufacturing manufactures and distributes products for oilfield production, pipeline maintenance, automated emergency shut down, construction and gas, and water distribution. Over the past 50 years, we have built a solid distribution base that includes oilfield supply stores, PC pump suppliers, OEM’s, chemical pump and instrumentation companies and utility companies in Western Canada.

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It is known that the oilfield industry inherently poses many hazards. Therefore, it is crucial to have and implement emergency shutdown systems that will minimize risks. These are put in place to proactively tackle an emergency and protect humans, industrial plants, and the environment.

Implementing an emergency shutdown system offers a disciplined, systematic approach for hazard identification, safety requirement specifications, and safety system designs, operations and maintenance. For optimal operational efficiency and safety, we have laid out the most important reasons as to why oilfields must have emergency shutdown systems.

  1. Safety: Enough protection from failure or danger. Safety controls are designed so that anything that can harm a system, does not influence the operating state of a plant, where the hazard potential is lowered. Measuring safety levels will indicate the chance of a system not performing during its specified time interval.
  2. Reliability: The ability of a system to fulfill its function during its operation time. To measure reliability, experts use “Mean Time Between Failure”.
  3. Availability: The probability that a system will function. This is calculated in percentage, by dividing the mean operating time between the mean down time of a system.

Emergencies in the oilfield typically involve:

  • flooding
  • leaks
  • escape of hydrocarbons
  • fire outbreaks
  • pressurized gases

In short, emergency shutdown systems are so important because, in case of an emergency, not having these, can bring a series of detrimental repercussions: economically, environmentally, and operationally.

Elements in a Shutdown System:

  1. Emergency shutdown valve
  2. Valve actuator
  3. Emergency shutdown controller
  4. Alarm

It is crucial to conduct risk analysis that follow the high safety standards. Generally, emergency shutdown systems need a high SIL (Safety Integrity Level) of 2 or 3. This defines the level or risk-reduction given by a safety function or procedure. The chart below depicts the Emergency Shutdown levels used in the petroleum industry:

ESD LevelActionMagnitude of incidentCost of Incident
1Total facility shutdownCatastrophicLess than $10,000
2Unit or plant shutdownSevereUp to
$1 million
3Equipment shutdownMajorUp to
4Equipment protective system shutdownSlightLess than $10,000
5Non-ESD process and control alarmsRoutineAround

The activation of an Emergency Shutdown System should be as simple as possible, and the measurements taken depend on the magnitude of the emergency. Also, inspectors and personnel should be trained and knowledgeable when assessing these kinds of protection systems.  Trainings should include proper operation and maintenance procedures from start-up to shut down, as well as during operations and during an emergency such as a leak or spill.

Learn more about Plainsman’s Shutdown Systems here! http://plainsmanmfg.com/products/safety-shutdown-systems/
Shutdown by Levels examples of actions

  • Shutdown parts of the system
  • Isolate Hydrocarbon and/or stop hydrocarbon flow
  • Isolate Electrical equipment
  • Depressurize
  • Emergency ventilation control
  • Close watertight doors and fire doors

Why Plainsman?

Safety Shutdown Systems from Plainsman include our HiLo-Matic product line. This is a self-contained, zero emission and reliable valve shutdown system that does not require external power. Plainsman is capable of providing a complete turnkey system, assembled, tested and ready for on-site operation.

Remember there is no such thing as zero risk. Thus, it is crucial to plan ahead to minimize and prevent failures, specially in a volatile industry like Oil & Gas. It is beneficial to plant owners, staff, the operations of a plant, and the environment!
Give us a call today! Our team of experts would love to be the ones to help you, Call Toll Free 1-877-448-0586.

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