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.
The use of additive manufacturing, or 3D printing, is gradually increasing in the oil and gas industry, says a report from GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.
Currently accounting for less than 0.1% of the overall global manufacturing market, which is currently valued at $12.7 trillion, it is estimated that the 3D printing market will be worth $32bn by 2025 and over $60bn by 2030, says the report.
3D printing also promises enhanced operational efficiency and business growth for the oil and gas industry, it said. GlobalData’s latest thematic report, ‘3D Printing in Oil & Gas’, states that 3D printing has emerged as one of the key enabling technologies in driving industrial productivity.
Over the years, 3D printing technology has become prominent in different industries and has significantly influenced automotive and aerospace manufacturing.
Access to and use of additive manufacturing (AM), also known as 3D printing, has increased in recent years due to the expiring of patents on techniques and technologies, says Hugues Greder, Lead Petroleum Engineer at Total.
Computing power is much more powerful and there’s also been an increase in the power of the lasers used in the AM process. While a large proportion of AM today is still for prototyping and tooling, about a third is for end uses, i.e. parts, he told the Underwater Technology Conference (UTC) in Bergen, Norway, earlier this year. And more is likely to come.
Total is keen to talk about AM after some recent success stories, including solving a problem during deepwater subsea pipeline commissioning that would have otherwise cost more than €10 million ($11.2 million) to rectify. The problem was found during the Egina field commissioning in 2018.
Investors, both public and private, will be able to buy tokens through an initial coin offering (ICO) that represent 1W of the solar power project.
3D printing or “additive manufacturing” is the process of joining materials to make objects from three-dimensional model data, usually layer upon layer.
In 2017 the 3D printing industry was worth $7bn, up from $3bn in 2013 and by 2025 it is expected to account for over $20bn all over the world.
Additive manufacturing (AM) has found its application in different sectors of the power industry, both in building prototypes and in mainstream production leading to process simplification and operational efficiency.
AM can produce components with complex geometries, consume fewer raw-materials, produce less waste, have reduced energy consumption and decreased time-to-market.
Nowhere is this promise more evident than in additive manufacturing (AM). More commonly known as 3D printing, AM will provide oil and gas companies with the power to transform how parts are created and optimised. The ability to fabricate parts on-demand stands to upend established and often inefficient supply chain models, reducing costs and opening the door for innovation.
Radical change is coming. The successes of early adopters, coupled with the wealth of expertise and resources now available, gives little reason for companies to press pause on starting their AM journeys. The barriers to entry have never been lower – and the rewards so high.
BP said this week it was studying the potential impact of 3D printing on oil demand in the event that manufacturing becomes local and global shipping declines. Pilita Clark, FT environment correspondent, discusses this and other potential threats to the industry with Andrew Ward, FT energy editor
Any outlook covering a period of several decades is surrounded by plenty of uncertainties that could significantly alter its projected trends. That is the key reason why those who compile these outlooks often avoid the word “forecast”, and talk instead about “scenarios” (the International Energy Agency’s World Energy Outlook) and “cases”.
BP’s latest Energy Outlook “considers a base case, outlining the ‘most likely’ path for global energy markets over the next 20 years based on assumptions and judgments about future changes in policy, technology and the economy”. Sixteen of its around 100 pages focus on “key uncertainties” to 2035, which include the possibility of a more rapid penetration of electric cars, increased energy efficiency and a faster-than-anticipated transition to a lower-carbon economy.
Though hobbyists, researchers and manufacturers are all quite optimistic about the 3D printing revolution in the near future, Gartner has proven itself to be one of the most reliable sources out there when it comes to market growth. Their previous prediction that 10% of people in the developed world will own 3D printed products by 2019 is therefore quite promising. But as Gartner’s Research Director Morgan Eldred just revealed at the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo in Dubai, industrial 3D printing is also on the rise. Especially oil and gas companies are set to profit from the technology, it is revealed, and Gartner predicts that ten percent of all O&G companies will partially rely on 3D printing manufacturing by 2019.
Gartner, of course, is the world’s leading information technology research and market advisory company, and are known for their detailed and often correct interpretations of market mechanisms. With 3D printing quickly becoming a crucial innovative technology, it has been the subject of several specialized reports already, of which Impact of 3D Printing for Oil and Gas Industry IT Leaders is the latest. At the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo in Dubai (1-3 March 2016), Morgan Eldred also discusses the opportunities and challenges this technology brings to the oil and gas sector – one of the largest industries in the world.