The oil and gas industry is finally getting in on the 3D printing revolution, using the technology to solve supply chain problems, lower costs, and reduce emissions
The tech could save the oil and gas industry $30 billion annually
The 3D printing revolution has been significantly bolstered by the global pandemic and supply chain issues, and it is now maturing into a major industry
Port congestion, delivery delays, and shortages have become a mark of the pandemic world that is not showing signs of going away anytime soon. It is in times like this that disruptive, transformational technology shines and 3D printing is no exception. Additive manufacturing, as it is also known, has been around for quite a while now, and while we haven’t yet reached the point of having 3D printers in every home, energy companies have been paying close attention and are now using the technology to cope with part shortages.
The Wall Street Journal recently reported that Chevron had turned to additive manufacturing to secure parts necessary for the maintenance of its $54-billion Gorgon LNG project. Chevron had to turn to additive manufacturing due to fears that maintenance would be delayed if the company had ordered ready-made parts.
“We’ve learned a lot from those parts. The most important thing is that we’ve shown that this flexible, right part, right time digital supply-chain approach can be successful, and it can meet our needs in a sort of reactive mode,” the WSJ quoted Chevron manager Robert Rettew as saying.
round 83% of oil and gas companies are considering adopting 3D printing or on-demand manufacturing to meet their spare part production needs, according to an industry report.
Published by digital manufacturing provider Protolabs, the ‘Decision Time’ survey has revealed how firms in the oil services sector intend to adapt to sustainability challenges, by engaging in Manufacturing-as-a-Service (MaaS). In doing so, the report says that the industry aims to cut its costs, reduce its CO2 emissions and adapt to the “green energy transition.”
“The sector’s appetite to secure a long-term future means that companies are branching out into other industries and extending their capabilities,” explains Bjoern Klaas, VP and MD of Protolabs Europe. “With the energy transition revolutionizing the sector, combined with a much lower profit environment, it is imperative that companies continue to innovate and embrace renewable markets.”
Shell, the British-Dutch multinational Oil and Gas Company, is leveraging spare parts 3D printing to foray into digital warehouse. The company aims to focus on the revolutionary 3D printing technology to optimise its repair and replacement strategies and ultimately enable a digital warehouse approach to spare part management.
Shell believes the technology can reduce the costs, delivery time and the carbon footprint of spare parts and so it is collaborating with industry leaders to push the innovation of 3D printing for the energy sector.
Shell’s in-house 3D printing capability started in 2011 with a metal laser-printing machine to fabricate unique testing equipment for laboratory experiments at the Shell Technology Centre Amsterdam (STCA). Today, Shell has about 15 polymer, ceramic, and metal printers located at its technology centres in Amsterdam and Bangalore.
The oil and gas industry is embracing new technologies to save time and costs and, most recently, to reduce the carbon footprint of its supply chain as the energy sector is under increased pressure to reward shareholders while helping to fight climate change. Along with artificial intelligence, machine learning, digital twins, and robotics, the world’s biggest oil and gas firms and oilfield services providers are betting on 3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, to streamline operations, cut costs and save time, and reduce emissions from spare parts manufacturing.
Over the past decade, some of the biggest oil and gas firms in the world have turned to 3D printing to procure parts and create digital warehouses to procure and manage the supply of necessary equipment.
One such example is supermajor Shell (2.60%), which believes that additive manufacturing technology can reduce the costs, delivery time, and the carbon footprint of spare parts. Shell has ongoing projects with other industry players, including Baker Hughes (3.06%), to push the innovation of 3D printing for the energy sector, say Nick van Keulen, Supply Chain Digitalisation Manager and Angeline Goh, 3D Printing Technology Manager at Shell.
DNV GL, a global certification and risk management firm, has released a new 3D printing service specification document aimed at supporting additive manufacturing in the oil and gas industry.
Specification DNVGL-SE-0568 defines DNV’s additive manufacturing qualification scheme and provides details on how to obtain and retain a number of the company’s 3D printing-related certificates. This includes certificates that endorse facilities and digital manufacturing services, and certificates that qualify manufacturers, build processes, 3D printers, parts, and personnel.
The document was developed in accordance with industry standard DNVGL-ST-B203, which DNV previously created for metallic components in the energy sector. As such, the specification is ultimately intended to help the industry in adopting metal 3D printing in a safe and efficient manner.
Louisa Allen explores additive manufacturing solutions for the energy and oil & gas industries
Innovations brought about by 3D printing have largely focused on industrial applications. We read about how car manufacturers are using this technology to build custom parts and tools more efficiently and at a lower cost. The aeronautics industry is using additive manufacturing to create lightweight components to help boost fuel economy. 3D printing has also enabled the sector to streamline the supply chain as well as product parts on-demand. Both of these actions help reduce lead times and lower operations costs.
There has also been quite a buzz about 3D printing and its impact on the healthcare industry, particularly its influence on patient-centered medical care. But the applications of this revolutionary technology does not limit itself to these fields. Case in point, the energy, oil, and gas industries are now looking to adopt additive manufacturing to help them harness our natural resources. Below are just a few of the solutions that are now being implemented by big companies such as Chevron and Shell Global.
Oil company X had problems this spring. It was time for field maintenance, but company X couldn’t go ahead with it because it needed spare parts that weren’t coming anytime soon. Coronavirus-prompted lockdowns were breaking down international supply chains. Refinery Y had the same problem. It was maintenance time, and maintenance could not begin because of that same disruption to the supply chain. Refinery Y had to delay its maintenance, risking outages.
The problems of X and Y are very real and also dangerous. They also reveal one of the less pleasant aspects of the globalized economy: an overdependence on long international supply chains. But there is an alternative to these long supply chains: additive manufacturing or 3D printing.
Two Joint Innovation Projects (JIPs) seeking to establish guidelines for the production and qualification of additive manufactured parts for the oil and gas and maritime industries, has concluded.
The JIPs, organized by DNV GL, an international accredited registrar and classification society, and comprised of 20 different partners, involved 2 years of intensive work and discussion. Some of the firms involved include BP, Shell, Total, Siemens, SLM Solutions, Sandvik, Additive Industries and more. Their goal was to develop guidelines to help qualify parts produced by Laser Powder Bed Fusion (LPBF) and Wire Arc Additive Manufacturing (WAAM) processes. The partners also sought to create an accompanying economic model, to be used in the oil and gas and maritime industries.
Using additive manufacturing to make parts big and small could help utilities save time and money.
It’s a question that manufacturers face constantly: What’s the best way to produce the most items with the least amount of money, while maintaining the highest possible quality?
Over the past few decades, 3D printing has presented a potential solution to that problem, but only recently has the technology seen widespread development. Also called additive manufacturing, 3D printing has so far been most useful for companies developing and testing new products, allowing them to make relatively low-cost prototypes.
Seeing the potential benefits, organizations around the globe are investing more in the technology. A study from Sculpteo found that in 2018, companies increased their investments in 3D printing by 70 percent, up from just 47 percent in 2017.
A report from research company GlobalData, ”3D Printing in Oil & Gas,” explores how 3D printing is emerging as a key technology helping to drive industrial productivity in the oil and gas sector.
“The oil and gas industry has shown slow but steady adoption of 3D printing in recent years,” said Ravindra Puranik, oil and gas analyst at GlobalData. “Initially, this technology was largely limited to polymer-based products. However, recent advancements in metal-based 3D printing are making this technology more relevant to the oil and gas industry.”