As any oil man or woman knows, when you are creating oil and gas in an oil field, there are several byproducts that need to be dealt with. One of them is salt water.
Oil companies usually get rid of salt water by injecting it into wells, rocks, or other natural formations. But first the fluid has to go through a disposal facility. There, tanks collect the salt water and other oil and gas wastes. As long as the well is producing oil, salt will be created and require disposal.
the waste reaches the disposal facility, it goes into steel tanks where the
various byproducts are separated out. From there, the facility uses pumps to
inject the waste into its disposal sites.
Pittman earns his bread and butter by working on these types of disposal
facilities. He is the manager of Big Spring, Texas-based Pitts Oilfield
Products and Services, LLC, and he has worked in the oil industry for a long
Pittman’s entire company
employs 28 people, from clerical to field jobs, including work in
manufacturing, blasting, coating, painting, inspecting, and delivering.
whole team did their part to make this project a success,” Pittman said of the
work with Wasser Operating, LLC, a Texas-based company that has several oil
field leases. The project in front of Pittman and his team would be big: They
were working on a new salt water disposal facility, which meant manufacturing
tanks to the customer’s innovative design criteria. All in all, the project
would cover 45,000 square feet (4,180.6 m²) of new SA 36 Carbon Steel Plate.
said the key to landing this job was his company’s willingness to be flexible
and work with the engineer on the project, Bruce Johnson from Wasser Operating.
went through a bidding process and developed a relationship with Bruce,” Pittman
said. “We were willing to be open-minded and look at alternatives, new ideas,
new coatings, and work with him, giving him input from our side of the business
versus the engineering side, discussing pros and cons. That created the
relationship that stimulated the thought process on both sides.”
said it was a challenge to make customizations on the planned job, but he was
happy to do it to land the work and make the customer happy. “I needed to come
to the understanding of what he was trying to achieve, but also that it was
going to limit us in manufacturing,” he said. “Bruce Johnson came to understand
we’d have limits where we’d have to build certain things, so he adjusted to
make it easier for us to do our side.”
systems “are totally unique, totally different,” Pittman said, and they require
an automation process with a lot of stainless steel fittings and pipings “that
are designed in a specific way.”
It All Together
After the bid was won,
Pittman and his Pitts Oilfield team began work in June 2015.
spent three months on the job, which included fabrication of all the tanks,
stainless steel connections, and internal stainless piping. They began work by
blasting the substrate. They had an on-site inspection to ensure the profile
was what the infill process required.
Next, they applied Hempel’s Versiline TL-45 S, a
two-component coating. The team first did a pre-coat stripe coat on certain
areas of the tanks at the connection joints. Then, they put down a full coat using
a Graco sprayer in one pass with a thickness of 20 to 22 mils (508.0–558.8
microns). This was a heavier coating with 100 percent solids, and it required
inspection at each step of the process so the customer could receive a
warranty, Pittman said. That included ensuring the proper thickness after the
stripe coat was applied.
said that Johnson provided the exact dimension layouts and tolerances so the
premeasured stainless piping would connect the tanks together in the field. For
example, he needed a quarter inch (6.4 mm) tolerance between the tanks and
fittings. “The layout had to be exactly the same to connect it to the piping,
to ensure the piping would fit between the tanks,” Pittman said.
with the normal fittings and connections, the stainless connections, flanges,
and internal piping added some additional time to the job because of the effort
it took to find the correct product, he said. “Bruce wanted a very tight
tolerance on all of his fittings with projections, so we were trying to find
the products — locate them — and that was a challenge,” Pittman said.
and weight constraints on the internal piping also challenged Pittman’s team to
meet the customer’s needs and wants. “Most manufacturers seem to shy away from
projects like this that seem to require thinking outside the box,” he said.
“Because we were willing to offer that from the manufacturer’s side of things,
I believe we were chosen for this project.”
and More Rain
Most of the work was done
inside the shop before transporting the piping to the field. “We were fortunate
to have an indoor facility, but we have to have humidifiers,” Pittman said.
when the crew took the tanks to the site, they encountered another problem. “As
most West Texans will attest to, we have had a very rare occurrence this year
called rain and lots of it,” Pittman said. “Texas was in a drought, but when we ordered
the tanks it stopped the drought. I just ordered another set, and the rains
told Bruce we have to capitalize on this somehow,” Pittman joked.
The rain meant a lot of rescheduling, and it created
some additional work because of oxidation build up from the blasting, Pittman
said. “We had the profile, but we had to re-blast because of oxidation. But
every facility has its challenges; this one was just a challenge from the
The team pulled together
and got the work done. When the job was finished, “it looked fantastic,”
back on the job, Pittman said he is proud of his team’s success in working with
the customer and coming up with a plan together. “Not a lot of engineers are
very willing to let you give them input; it’s their way or the highway,” he
said. “But Bruce wanted to pull together and create an environment of everyone
working together for this common goal, for fitting piping, or a valve, or a
certain technique. It wasn’t, ‘this is how this is going to be, but about a
team giving input.’”