With more than 90,000 attendees from more than 120 countries, the annual Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) in Houston is one of the world’s largest gatherings for the oil and gas industry. The event provides a valuable platform for energy professionals to exchange ideas and see the latest advancements in offshore technology and resources.
Some of the key industry trends and themes that were discussed at this year’s show, which was held from May 4 – 7, include, strategies for minimizing equipment downtime and reducing operating costs.
Recently, we caught up with William Madden, Industrial Sales Engineer - Oil and Gas, ExxonMobil Fuels & Lubricants, to get his take on how these key trends are impacting the industry and understand how ExxonMobil is providing advanced lubricant solutions to offshore oil and gas producers to improve their safety, environmental care and productivity.
Q1: At this year’s show, what do you think were the most pressing topics?
Madden: Obviously, one thing that came up often is that more and more companies are facing resource and personnel constraints due to lower oil prices.
As a result, there is a growing industry need for companies to streamline their operations and identify solutions that minimize equipment downtime, enhance production reliability and reduce operating costs – all of which can be achieved through effective lubrication.
Q2: What are the key components of an effective lubrication program? Is there a difference for onshore or offshore operations?
Madden: While specific lubricant recommendations may differ, the fundamentals of an effective lubrication program are similar between onshore and offshore applications.
We know that the cornerstone of any successful, preventative maintenance program is the selection and proper application of the correct lubricants and greases.
For many applications, investing in high quality synthetic lubricants can help operators realize significant financial and performance benefits such as increased oil life, improved energy efficiency, as well as reduced unscheduled downtime.
Beyond selecting the optimum lubricant, having a comprehensive oil analysis program is also a vital component of a successful predictive maintenance program.
While certainly applicable to onshore operations, having an effective lubrication and maintenance program in place is particularly critical to offshore operations given their harsh operating environments and remote locations.
Q3: You mentioned how advancements in lubricant technology are providing significant operational benefits. Can you explain how ExxonMobil’s synthetic lubricant technology meets the demanding requirements of modern offshore oil and gas production?
Madden: At ExxonMobil, our ultimate goal is to help companies by Advancing Productivity.
We do this by leveraging our comprehensive lubricant technologies and application expertise to help companies enhance their safety, achieve their environmental care-related goals, and maximize productivity.
As the company that pioneered synthetic lubricant technology, ExxonMobil has proven time and again that innovative lubricants can help deliver tangible performance and sustainability-related benefits, as well as material economic advantages to industry and consumers.
The development process for our latest innovation for the oil and gas industry – Mobil SHC PegasusTM 30 natural gas engine oil – is a perfect example of this symbiotic process, which included us conducting a number of field, lab and OEM bench tests with market leading equipment builders. As a result of this comprehensive development process, Mobil SHC Pegasus has been specifically designed to provide today’s high-output, low emission gas engines with the highest levels of production, while also delivering potential fuel consumption reductions.
Also, our series of Mobil SHCTM 600 synthetic gear, circulating and bearing oils, are extremely popular among oil and gas operators, because of their ability to deliver a number of benefits, including outstanding low temperature fluidity to enable startup and operation at low temperatures, and excellent resistance to rust and corrosion – both of which are extremely valuable given the extreme nature of offshore operations.
In extensive laboratory and in-service testing, Mobil SHC 600 oils demonstrated up to 3.6 percent* improvements in energy efficiency when compared to conventional oils, and were shown to deliver a potential service life up to six times longer than competitive mineral oils.
Q4: So, you’ve talked about how ExxonMobil’s lubricant technology can deliver significant performance benefits in oil and gas production. But, how is this technology also advancing productivity of offshore supply vessels?
Madden: For offshore supply vessels (OSVs), operational reliability is critical to ensure they are available to provide constant support to the offshore industry.
Our range of Mobil Delvac products – specifically Mobil Delvac 1TM ESP synthetic heavy-duty diesel engine oil – provide a number of benefits, including extended oil drain intervals, which translates directly into less downtime, as well as reduced oil consumption and waste oil disposal of up to 80 percent**.
With these performance benefits, Mobil Delvac 1 ESP can help OSVs improve their reliability and reduce their overall operating and maintenance costs.
But, another thing to keep in mind is that OSVs operating in U.S. waters must also comply with Vessel General Permit (VGP) regulations. These regulations state that biodegradable lubricants are to be used in applications where lubricants may come into contact with water.
In addition to providing outstanding equipment protection, our Mobil SHC Aware line of lubricants enables compliance with VGP regulations. These environmentally acceptable lubricants are readily biodegradable, minimally toxic and are not bioaccumulative.
Overall, the performance benefits these lubricants deliver are the direct result of our commitment to a balanced formulation approach.
Q5: What do you mean by balanced formulation and why is that important?
Madden: To develop lubricants that offer both productivity and energy efficiency benefits, we use an advanced, scientifically engineered process we refer to as our Balanced Formulation Approach.
Through extensive product research, we leverage our leading technology and application expertise to formulate lubricants that deliver exceptional performance across all areas for each application, such as oxidative stability, component wear protection, corrosion control, filter ability, shear stability and extreme temperature performance.
From the start, our scientists select advanced-technology base stocks and carefully design additive systems to complement the excellent lubrication properties of these base fluids.
We then put the lubricant candidates through a comprehensive range of industry-standard laboratory tests and work to supplement this testing with our own full-scale, dynamic testing. This testing is designed to stress the lubricant candidates under conditions that are even more demanding than they are likely to experience in severe operating environments.
Finally, we follow in-service testing protocols to validate the performance of our lubricants in field demonstrations. Only after successful completion of all of these testing protocols will we designate a lubricant fit to become part of our Mobil SHC family.
This process – like everything we strive to do at ExxonMobil – provides our customers with the lubricant solutions they need to enhance their safety, achieve their environmental care-related goals, and maximize productivity.
*Energy efficiency relates solely to the fluid performance when compared with conventional reference oils of the same viscosity grade in gear applications. The technology used allows up to 3.6 percent efficiency compared with the reference when tested in a worm gearbox under controlled conditions. Efficiency improvements will vary based on operating conditions and application.
** Compared to conventional oils.