Quick Tips Video | Winter Is Coming: 5 Tips for Oil and Gas Production in Cold Weather

Cold weather can provide some unique challenges to maintaining uptime at your oil and gas production site. Whether you live in Canada, a cold-weather state like North Dakota, or you only experience freezing temperatures during the winter months, freezing gas lines and control valves can have damaging effects on your production goals.

Check out these 5 tips on how to optimize production and prevent freezing when the weather grows cold.

 

1. Cover Exposed Skin

Cold Weather Safety Gear, PPE, Gloves

Gloves are a must in cold weather

When working on site in the cold, you want to make sure all exposed skin is covered from the elements. In addition to the appropriate PPE, make sure to dress in layers, wear gloves to protect your fingers, and cover your ears with a winter cap.

Cold-weather oil and gas production leads to increased risks for your hands. Hands (and other exposed areas) can quickly grow numb. A producer may be working on a control valve and not realize that his hand is cut because of the numbness. Make sure to take regular breaks and sit in your truck with the heater on to warm your paws.

 

 

2. Point Breather Plugs Down (or Downwind)

Breather Plug, Freezing valve, Cold weather regulator

Point breather plugs down to prevent freezing valves and regulators

When you’re operating in cold weather, one of the biggest problems you’ll encounter is freezing fluid in your control valves and pressure regulators. You want to make sure that the breather plugs on all of your back pressure regulators (and any other production equipment that uses breather plugs) is facing down.

Simply put a wrench on the plug and turn it until the hole on the breather plug is facing the ground.

This simple step will prevent moisture from entering the control valve and freezing, which will keep the control valve from operating correctly.

If the breather plug is oriented horizontally, orientation like it is on the Kimray High Pressure Control Valve, turn it away from the north wind so wind and rain don’t get in and cause freezing.

 

 

3. Specify Elastomers for Methanol Injection

Methanol injection, freezing gas

Methanol Injection requires compatible elastomers

Some oil and gas producers choose to inject methanol into their gas stream to prevent freezing in their control valves and oil and gas production equipment.

Methanol is a very corrosive gas and can eat away certain types of elastomers. So, if you choose this route, you will want to specify the appropriate cold weather elastomers that are compatible with methanol gas.

 

 

4. Use Valve Body Heaters

Catco valve heater, freezing valve

Catco Valve Body Heaters provide flameless heat

Another spot vulnerable to freezing is your control valve body.  Maybe you have a compressed natural gas (CNG)

application and need to take gas from a large storage tank under extremely high pressure—say 4,000 psi—and cut it down to 200 psi in order to be used at a CNG fueling station. Valves carrying out a pressure cut that large will be susceptible to solidification issues, especially when it’s cold outside.

To prevent freezing, some operators use heat tape wrapped around insulation. This can be an inefficient and messy way to prevent freezing. If you need to repair your control valve, you will have to cut the tape and insulation away to get access to the valve, and then replace it when you are finished. A good alternative to this option is using a Catco valve body heater. This heater uses supply gas to provide a flameless heat that keeps the valve warm, and it features a hinge door with two clips on the top to provide operators with easy access for maintenance or repair. 

 

5. Remove Slack in Gas Tubing

Freezing gas line

Slack in the line causes freezing

One other spot you may encounter freezing is in your tubing lines. If you are setting up a treater valve, you may buy a length of tubing, hook it up to the valve, and then run it to the top of your heater treater without regard for slack in the line.

Extra slack creates low spots in the line, where liquids can and will collect. If you operate in warmer climates or only in the summertime, this may not be an issue. But in cold weather these liquids will freeze and cause your valve to not operate correctly because it is not receiving the appropriate level of supply gas.

To prevent this, to make sure all tubing is running downhill and no parts of the line are sloped at ninety degrees or more.

 

Show the Cold Who’s Boss

Oil and gas production can be tougher in extreme cold weather. Put these winter production tips into practice, and you’ll prevent frozen valves and maximize up time at your production site.

Do you have a tip we didn’t mention? Let us know in the comments below!