New Bolting Standard Advances Safety in Industry Operations
Posted August 12, 2019
API’s new bolting standard recognizes the critical role that fittings, bolts, screws and other components play in the safe operation of the industry’s exploration and production activities around the world.
Our oil and natural gas companies are present in nearly every conceivable environment. From the icy cold of the tundra to the deserts and oceans, API members require durable steel components that won’t fail them in these tough conditions, while supporting safe and reliable operations.
That’s why we issued API TR 21TR1, “Materials Selection for Bolting.” The new standard makes it easier for companies to select the right equipment for certain environmental conditions.
Importantly, this standard is an example of a proactive initiative by the industry to both protect our workers and the environment by reducing the risk of potential hardware failures.
In August 2014, the federal Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement published an evaluation of connectors and bolts, in response to an incident a few years prior that prompted a global recall of bolted connections used on a typical subsea blowout preventer (BOP). API quickly convened and established a multi-segment task group that focused their work on BOP bolting connector bolts, as part of four areas to review: materials, the API Monogram program, operations and research.
For those of you who are not familiar with API’s Monogram program, it facilitates the consistent manufacture of industry products that conform to API’s world-class specifications. The Monogram “mark of excellence” instills confidence that these products contribute to enhanced safety and environmental protection for oil and natural gas sector operations.
Following their evaluation of the connectors, studs and other components used in critical equipment, industry experts in this task group made a number of recommendations, including the development of a new technical report to specifically address how bolts and other drilling components are manufactured to be successfully deployed in the field.
In this technical report – 21TR1 – connectors, studs and bolts must be resistant to intense corrosion from saltwater when used on offshore rigs. The new standard includes information on metals such as stainless steels and nickel-based alloys and also includes some information on coatings when using low alloy material to prevent corrosion.
API’s recommendations go further. They aim to prevent breakage and failures in nearly any conceivable environment. In desert conditions, bolts and other components must be able to cope with the extreme changes in temperature, as well as the abrasive action from sand and dust storms.
The standard also addresses the extreme cold of the Arctic, where some metals can become brittle and crack.
The problems that may arise in these environmental extremes help underscore why it is so important that the industry utilize the right tools for the job. It also helps us understand that each piece of the production process, no matter how small or large, requires equal amounts of attention.
As the industry moves forward to supply the world’s energy needs, it must remain vigilant and seek perfection in all its endeavors. It is my hope that this standard helps do just that.
About The Author
Debra Phillips is vice president of API’s Global Industry Services division, which is responsible for standards setting, certification, training, events, publications and safety programs for industry operations. Before joining API, Debra served on the leadership team at the American Chemistry Council, where she was the catalyst behind the chemical industry’s sustainability strategy. She earned her undergraduate degree in biology from Albright College and holds a master’s degree in environmental toxicology from Duke University.