Steel Coatings Articles

Greatest Hits: Crew Strikes Oil With Tank Recoat

Photos courtesy of TRB Oilfield Services, Inc./NTS

Freezing temperatures, stringent safety requirements, and an extremely quick turnaround were the name of the game on a steel tank recoat that was featured online in 2014 in CoatingsPro Magazine. California’s Occidental of Elk Hills needed the tank, which holds heavy crude oil, back in service within 24 hours. The applicators needed to prep and paint — and they proved that they were up to the challenge!

Change in the Lineup

The project was completed in the winter months in the San Joaquin Valley; the job required a coating system that could be applied during temperatures that dropped into the teens (~-8.8 °C). However, the finished system also needed to withstand the constant sun that would hit the exterior. And the lining needed to hold the hot oil. It was a tall order, but the coating system has fared well.

“It’s still holding up against the harsh conditions with UV [ultraviolet] light and temps exceeding 120 degrees [48.9 °C],” explained Michael Ray, coating division manager for TRB Oilfield Services, Inc. The system applied was from Sherwin-Williams, and the eight-person crew used a product called Nova-Plate 325 in particular. That lining is made to withstand oil up to 300 °F (148.8 °C).

Ray called it a “superior product,” and he has since suggested the system to other potential clients. It may be seen as a testament to the initial application and the coating system that the coatings company hasn’t had to return to the site to do any touchups on the system.

The contracting company, though, has gone through several changes since the project’s completion and return to service. Not only has the coating division manager changed faces, but the company itself has undergone several transformations.

For starters, the original contracting firm, NTB, was bought by TRB. In addition, the company’s main clientele looks different than it did a few years ago. “Since oil has declined, we have faced a fairly large decline in projects, which is why we are moving into new areas and focusing on state and government projects now,” Ray explained. But this expansion has allowed the company to grow in size as well. According to Ray, TRB is now “22 people strong with an over combined total of 25+ years of experience.”

Safety Continues

The Occidental of Elk Hills project required that the coatings crew work on an active oil field. That meant monitoring hydrogen sulfide and lower explosive limit (LEL) levels and wearing personal protective equipment (PPE). Crew members wore blast hoods when blasting, respirators when coating, and flame-resistant clothing, hard hats, and steel-toed boots throughout the entire job.

In the same vein, TRB continues to make safety a priority today. “Safety is a huge part of our business,” Ray said. “I think there is nothing more important than ensuring that each and every one of our employees goes home alive and well every day, so that’s why you must always consider the cost of investing in your employees.” 

Since the Occidental of Elk Hills project, TRB has trained their employees in lead, rescue, and CPR. As Ray succinctly stated, “we face more hazards than ever before.”

A Great Finish

Although TRB (née NTS) hasn’t returned to the jobsite since the project’s completion to work on this or any other tank, the company has completed similar work elsewhere and has used this project as an example of their finest work. “Since then, we have used this project data as reference for similar projects and have done countless tanks with Chevron since then,” Ray said. It certainly seems to have paid off in dividends!

The company’s experience in the oil industry and their current involvement in the public works industry has taught them the value of involving the design team, particularly the engineer, with the coating selection. Ray shared his belief that this will help the success of the project at hand as well as other contractors in the industry. He concluded, “Our goal is to leave knowledge and understanding and an extremely great finish on each job.”

This feature is part of a special anniversary series in 2017 in which CoatingsPro is reflecting on and updating the magazine’s most-read digital stories. To see the original article, as it appears online, please click here. To read the other articles in the Greatest Hits series, click here.

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