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Aftermath of Hurricanes Harvey & Irma: What welders need to know…

Source: Welding Source by Deborah Long

Welding quality in light of recent “extreme” weather

This year’s hurricane season is an example of more extreme storms causing more extensive damage than we have seen in a long time. In addition to widespread personal property devastation in states hard hit by Harvey and Irma, like Texas and Florida, many businesses and industries were impacted to varying degrees; with the Energy sector (e.g. oil and gas refineries) being a prime target.

Hurricanes impact Energy industry

When pipelines experience downtime due to such natural disasters, the monetary loss is great; but, perhaps a bigger problem is the inability to transport gas, both locally and to other regions, either by ship or tanker trucks. This causes scarcity and drives up prices just at a time when fuel resources are most needed to get people to safety and carry on recovery efforts. Add to this the actual sinking and shutdown of a refinery under the pressure of flood waters, which occurred in south Texas during Harvey, and the mandatory evacuation of offshore platforms in the Gulf of Mexico, and you have a severe reduction in output needed to run the country. (In the case of Hurricane Harvey alone, millions of barrels of oil were taken out of the U.S. energy market). Our dependence on oil and gas seems to be greatly magnified in such circumstances.

The hurricane effects of high winds and roaring flood waters, especially in Category 4 or 5 conditions, bring into question the structural integrity in general—and the welding quality in particular—when it comes to the construction of refineries, pipeline systems, and oil rigs (whether onshore or offshore).

As the oil and gas industry continues to move into more remote regions of the world to exploit frontier basins and develop hard-to-reach resources, the infrastructure required for such operations is subject to very harsh climates. This poses construction challenges in addition to just “hurricane-proofing.” It calls for the highest quality welding possible.

What welders need to know…

It would appear that re-building and re-construction projects will require welders during the hurricane recovery period and beyond. So, it’s time to brush up on welding codes and standards for our industry, as well as those of the oil and gas industry, to ensure our work can withstand future debilitating effects from natural disasters and severe climates.

  • Click here for information on the American Welding Society’s 350+ welding codes, procedures, practices and standards.
  • Click here to access a Quick Reference Guide to the main international design codes used on global oil and gas construction projects. These codes and standards are referred to and used in Engineering, Procurement and Construction projects.

Note: It’s a good idea to check these resources periodically for any code updates, especially in response to recent storm damage.

1 Comment

  • Aws is seen in refineries around the world via, cwi inspectors. In the pipeline industry not as much. We need to push more towards getting the pipeline industry to accept this as a standard. If you don’t have a cwi and your inspecting welds on pipeline. You might not have all the knowledge necessary to do the job the best way possible. The majority of us get our cwi, on the 1104. And there are a lot of pipeline weld inspectors that have no truly quality inspection certification. Any thing we can do to help this will help our world as a whole.

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