How Did the “Hydro Testing Plug” Address Exxon’s Unique Repair Challenges?
When you have a unique or specific requirement that doesn’t fit within industry normal practices, the process to perform repairs can be more complex and costly. That’s the case for the Esso and parent company Exxon Mobil Corp. hydro testing plug related to flange weld repairs.
INNOVATOR experts worked closely with nearby Exxon Mobil Imperial Oil professionals to develop a solution to this long-standing issue.
“Exxon Imperial Oil has a specific standard for all worldwide Exxon sites where they do not accept traditional weld-test tools,” INNOVATOR Operations Manager Brent Soper explains. “The code states that the use of traditional tools is prohibited as the tool design limits the forces that are applied to the weld during the hydro test. Specifically, radial force is applied; however, axial force is not.
“Because the use of traditional weld-test tools is not accepted, professionals from Exxon Mobil sites around the world go through a long, complex, time-and-resource-consuming process of having a closure weld approved for every weld repair — or a complete system hydro test is required.”
Exxon Mobil professionals knew there had to be a better way, so they worked closely with INNOVATOR experts to develop a hydro testing tool that met their stringent requirements. It took three years, but the result is a tool that can help improve the hydro testing process on Exxon Mobil sites everywhere.
“The two sealing points of our plugs are independent, so the plug is now able to achieve both stresses — radial and axial forces — under a single isolated test,” Soper says. “Now, with the technology we’ve created, we’re able to go to site and hydro test a connection in a matter of hours at a vastly reduced cost.”
Client reviewers have already been ecstatic.
“We’ve recently executed a shutdown this spring that was based around this new technology and service line,” Soper says. “We were called to site to perform weld tests and weld isolations, and it saved them an immense amount of time, money, headaches, and energy — and the clients were impressed and pleased with the delivery methods of the technology.”
While Exxon Mobil is the only client taking advantage of this custom tool at the moment, Soper and his fellow INNOVATOR experts hope that word will get out to Exxon Mobil professionals at other sites that could benefit from this cost- and time-saving technology.
“Since this is a new technology, we’re the only one in North America carrying these products and we’re trying to roll it out to the industry,” Soper says. “Our goal is to get the word out to the right people to save them time and energy.”
“Our new line of Innovator Tension Testers performs both a leak and strength test on the weld, acting on it both radially and axially,” says Don Cooper, INNOVATOR president. “While Exxon was the first operator in Canada that has asked of this, we are hearing about this requirement from several other world-class operations on a global basis. When they ask, we’ll be ready to serve”.
While this particular endeavor is specific to Exxon Mobil and Imperial Oil, it’s a great example of the lengths INNOVATOR experts will go to in order to serve their customers. According to Soper, that’s what INNOVATOR is all about.
“That’s the purpose,” he says. “We’re trying to separate ourselves as industry leaders. We’re not called INNOVATOR for nothing!”