With extreme oil and gas supply shortages looming ever closer and the Strategic Petroleum Reserve of the United States reaching its lowest level in 38 years, oil and gas equipment needs to run as smoothly as possible.
But, when two stainless steel parts of a threaded coupling are in direct contact with one another it causes constant friction. This can result in the galling of the metal, where the threads seize or abrade. In turn this can cause the joint elements to jam or damage the threads themselves.
For parts such as Oil Country Tubular Goods (OCTGs), this threatens leaks and oil blowouts and can often halt the production processes. With oil and gas supplies as low as they are, the economic effects of this downtime could be more than simply getting the parts replaced or repaired. This is where copper selective plating comes in.
How Copper Plating Steel Can Help the Oil and Gas Industry
Newly manufactured stainless-steel couplings that are at risk of galling and seizing need a thin layer of copper coated onto their threads using electroplating. These threaded connections, often called premium threaded connections, are an attempt to improve the American Petroleum Institute’s standards for threaded pipes and couplings used in OCTGs.
These oil and gas pipes can be very large in size and the threads that need to be plated are at the ends of the pipe. This means, standard tank plating is impractical and usually impossible. But because of their fragile nature and risk of compromise, there is no margin for error for parts used in the oil and gas industry. This is where selective plating comes in.
Selective plating is a portable electroplating method used to enhance, repair, and refurbish localized areas on manufactured components, allowing for the electrolytic coating of surfaces without an electroplating tank.
Because of the importance of this, the oil and gas industry has been looking at ways to ensure consistency across the copper plating, which includes standardising the procedures around training and certification.
Ensuring Consistency in Copper Plating Training and Certification
Two of the leading oil field thread designers VAM and Tenaris have recently introduced programs to ensure the standards of copper brush or selective plating across the industry. These programs are designed to establish a standard procedure for the qualification, evaluation, and acceptance of copper selective plating.
As part of this, operators now need to receive formal and specialized training and certification from an approved selective brush plating vendor to apply selective copper plating to the premium threaded connections provided by VAM and Tenaris.
At SIFCO ASC, we have a selective plating certification Copper Select® that has been given the approved vendor status by both licensors. This means we can train and qualify operators from around the globe in selective plating methods in line with the VAM and Tenaris specifications.
It’s not just copper plating that we can train your operators on, we have a wide range of courses including a Basic Training Course and a Cadmium/Zinc Nickel Certification Training Course. All these training courses are available worldwide either at our headquarters in Cleveland, Ohio or on-site at a location of your choice.
Passing SIFCO ASC’s Copper Select® Certification involves the completion of a weeklong training course and submitting qualification samples for approval. Upon completing the process, the licensee will be allowed to selectively plate copper onto Premium Threaded Connections using the technique taught as part of the training course. To ensure standards of copper plating remain consistent, qualified licensees will be audited annually.
How and Why to Get Your Operators Qualified to Plate with Copper
If you’re interested in receiving the Copper Select® Certification you will need to enter a three-year licensing agreement with SIFCO ASC, purchase a basic set of equipment tailored to plating threaded connections, and consistently monitor and measure the results to make sure that the standards expected within the certification are met.
To ensure the highest quality standards are met, your operators will need to recertify before the end of the three-year period. The accreditation is also location-based, meaning that organizations with multiple locations, need to acquire the Copper Select® Certification for each site.
If your operators haven’t attained the Copper Select® Certification or any other VAM and Tenaris-approved training, then they can’t work on the premium threaded connections provided by either licensor. This can cause production to grind to a halt. Completing the Copper Select® Certification ensures the highest standards of selective copper plating for parts used in the oil and gas industry. This is particularly important at a time when there is increased pressure for this industry to succeed.
Find out more about our Copper Select® certification or our other training courses today.