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Advanced dry-disconnect couplers help enhance environmental, personal-safety oilfield during product transfers

Jan. 1, 2014
THE ONGOING surge in oil and natural gas production in the United States has not only led to record levels of production and supply, but also had a positive effect in many other areas.

THE ONGOING surge in oil and natural gas production in the United States has not only led to record levels of production and supply, but also had a positive effect in many other areas. Among those benefitting from the increased oil and gas production are oilfield service companies.

It stands to reason that an increase in the amount of production and the number of drilling sites—whether conventional or unconventional—would increase the demand for oilfield services, including the transportation and delivery of drilling fluids, crude oil, and natural gas condensate.

Dry disconnect fittings, like OPW’s Kamvalok couplers, give oilfield operators a more effective way of protecting against product leaks and spills.

Service companies continue to add equipment to meet the needs of oilfield exploration and production companies. Driving this growth over the next five years will be North America, with its continuing focus on unconventional shale plays and the overall growth of the domestic oil and gas market.

Just as more oilfield activity means increased demand for equipment, increased production means a higher amount of crude oil, natural gas and other petroleum liquids that must be handled safely, for both oilfield personnel and the environment. There is a growing need for flow-control equipment that can adequately and reliably prevent leaks and spills during handling, transferring, or transporting of petroleum products.

Leak prevention

Throughout all stages of oil and natural gas production, conscientious producers and their drilling partners are taking special precautions to prevent unnecessary contamination of the well site and the environment, while helping to ensure the safety of their employees. Spill and leak prevention across all facets of the drilling and production process create a need for fittings and hoses that are as liquid-tight as possible.

Quick-disconnect technology traditionally has been the coupling style of choice. However, dry-disconnect couplers are becoming more attractive as a technology option that provides a better means of safeguarding people and the environment in the oilfield. The effectiveness of dry-disconnect technology dovetails nicely with the wishes of oilfield operators, who are placing a heightened emphasis on reducing liquid discharge at hose connection points, particularly at drilling sites.

Dry-disconnect couplings have been designed and tested to be an automatic, highly reliable mechanism that seals off both the hose and the fixed pipe end when the hose is disconnected. These couplings can be used in any liquid-transfer application where loss of fluid upon disconnection cannot be tolerated because of environmental regulations, worker safety considerations, the high value of the fluid or where cleanliness is a concern.

Although dry-disconnect products are not necessarily newcomers to the connection business, the demand for these products has continued to rise sharply as environmental consciousness and compliance have become more prevalent. Additionally, the engineering, design and materials of construction found in dry disconnects have become more and more advanced, offering the optimum connect/disconnect solution at a reasonable price point.

Dry disconnect

Recognizing the desires and demands of oilfield operators for an increased level of liquid containment, OPW Engineered Systems offers several types of dry disconnects, each offering unique benefits depending on the type of liquids being handled or the level of protection required, most notably:

•  Kamvalok dry disconnect couplers use a unique poppet-action design where the flow shut-off mechanism resembles a butterfly valve that results in very low flow restriction. Connections and disconnections are accomplished by simply closing and opening two cam arms, which lock into the machined groove around the circumference of the mating adaptor. This design enhances flow while simultaneously reducing the risk of unacceptable product loss. A foolproof safety interlock prevents accidental opening, and a sealing arrangement results in a drip-free dry disconnect. Kamvaloks are also designed to automatically shut off in the event of accidental disconnection.

•  Drylok dry disconnect couplers are the oil and gas industry’s driest disconnect technology, as the coupler’s flat face helps allow less than one cubic centimeter of fluid loss from a three-inch unit. An interlocking handle prevents uncoupling while the valve is open. Dryloks also are ideal for high-pressure line applications because they can be opened and closed against 150-psi maximum head pressure. Their 360-degree orientation ensures proper seating and alignment, and with no clamps, clips, loops, or tabs, the potential for human error is vastly reduced.     ♦

Dave Morrow is a Product Manager for OPW Engineered Systems, part of Dover Corporation’s OPW division. OPW is a global leader in fully integrated fluid handling, management, monitoring and control solutions for the safe and efficient handling of fuels and critical fluids from the wellhead to the commercial and retail points of consumption. OPW has 1,500 employees with manufacturing operations in North America, Europe, Brazil, China and India and sales offices around the world.  For additional information on OPW Engineered Systems, please visit www.opw-es.com.

Why are dry disconnects better than quick couplings?

VARIOUS styles of couplers and hose/pipe fittings are used in and around the oilfield every day. However, the chance for a leak increases as some coupling systems show signs of wear and tear.

The basic quick-disconnect technology is not always able to offer total product containment, which becomes a major concern for site personnel and the environment when handling hazardous liquids. Traditional quick disconnects can be hard to handle, with connections oftentimes difficult to complete and hard to verify.

The goal of any dry-disconnect technology, such as the OPW Kamvalok Dry Disconnect Coupler, is to optimize environmental protection, while allowing operators to perform safer, cleaner, and faster connections and disconnections throughout the supply chain.

OPW Kamvalok couplers are very easy to use and are operated in the following manner:

1.  Push the coupler onto the adaptor by first engaging the lower jaw of coupler under the lip of the adaptor and tilting the coupler upward to engage top jaw.

2.  Turn the handle counter-clockwise until the lock engages. Coupler and adaptor are locked together but valve is closed.

3.  Press the button on coupler down and turn the handle counter-clockwise until it locks. Valve is now open and product will flow.

4.  To disconnect, press the coupler button and rotate handle clockwise until it locks. Valve is now closed.

5.  Press the coupler button down and turn handle clockwise to the “in-line” position. Press tab on opposite side of coupler to release the upper jaw and move coupler away.

About the Author

Dave Morrow