Like those at all plants in the oil sands and elsewhere, Cenovus Foster Creek employees rely on their shutdown periods to make vital repairs like replacing system flanges. This typically means relying on the industry hot work standard — even in the tightest, most confined vessels.
However, Cenovus professionals are used to turning to Innovator when they find themselves in tight spots.
“Cenovus has been a client for the last five years,” said Innovator Service Development Coordinator Ray Bradley. “The work that we perform for them is very technical and different than what most people provide.”
This situation was no different. When Cenovus professionals shared concerns about using hot work to replace more than 30 flanges on their system, Innovator was ready with a safe, cost-effective, cutting-edge solution: Innovator Weldless Flanges.
Hot work hazards
Innovator’s Weldless Flanges completely eliminate hot work and the hazards that go along with it, so Innovator knew it was ideal for the folks at Cenovus Foster Creek.
“They had an internal piping system within their boiler that required the flanges to be replaced,” Bradley explained. “Because they’re inside of the vessel, these flanges tend to see a lot of corrosion, temperature, and pressure that eats away at them, so the client had to replace them.”
The traditional hot work the Cenovus team relied on to make these repairs posed additional cost, safety, and human power requirements — and the work being performed in confined, ergonomically uncomfortable vessels magnified these concerns. Plus, with more than 30 flanges needing to be replaced, Cenovus professionals were expecting an especially costly and time-consuming project.
“In a traditional situation, it would’ve taken about up to 10 times as long to complete the work using traditional welding versus Innovator Weldless Flanges,” Bradley explained. “They might have been able to get two welders in there working at once — and that probably would’ve taken them about six to 10 working days. When you factor in all the hot-work-related safety precautions and planning needed, the work was originally planned to take place over three calendar weeks.”
From weeks to days
With the Weldless Flange solution, Innovator shaved project scope down to days — not weeks.
“What we were able to do with the Weldless Flanges was remove all of the old flanges that were on all of the piping systems, prep the pipe ends, and install Weldless Flanges along with the proper inspection and hydrotesting all with a minimal crew,” Bradley said. “It took just 36 hours — three shifts with three individual technicians — to complete all of the work.”
Bradley and the entire Innovator crew knew these results would make an impression on those at Cenovus. In fact, after the Weldless Flanges project, they called on Innovator to do three more jobs.
As Bradley noted, the reason this client was impressed is simple: Innovator is committed to finding the best, safest, and most cost-effective solution for each project, and for this client, Innovator Weldless Flanges provided a substantial process improvement.
“We were able to mitigate the risks that were acceptable within their standard practice. The dangerous hot work, ergonomics in a tight space, long hours involved in welding in that location … they were having to accept these risks, and we were able to eliminate them,” Bradley said.
He was also quick to add that other companies can benefit from this impressive technology, too. For anyone who relies on hot work in less-than-adequate situations, Weldless Flanges can be a lifesaver.
“Weldless Flanges provide a new means to perform hot work with a reduced risk, cost, and timeline over the original process,” Bradley said. “There’s no added risk using Weldless Flanges versus a welded flange.”