As oil and gas industry operators continue to extract oil from increasingly deeper waters, conditions for seals within downhole equipment become more extreme. In addition to harsh chemical attack from production fluids, the materials and designs must now withstand even higher pressures and temperatures.
Recently entering the market are two new seals in a material formulated specifically for oil and gas industry applications, designed for not only downhole tools, but also to provide improvements to products found in any static or slow dynamic oilfield sealing scenario.
XploR™ S-Seal and XploR™ FS-Seal from Trelleborg Sealing Solutions are custom- engineered seals that combine the benefits of integral support components with the flexibility of an elastomer seal.
“We’re always looking to not just meet the requirements of a product for an application, but to understand how we can improve performance and create benefits that our customers don’t necessarily expect,” says David Brown, Global Director Lead Group – Oil & Gas for Trelleborg Sealing Solutions. “So, we’ve developed two customizable seals that can be modelled using Finite Element Analysis (FEA) software and then adapted to meet the specific requirements of each application.
“When downtime costs run into the millions and unplanned maintenance can cost even more, determining the correct solutions from the start is important. Improving seal longevity through innovative seal design and material formulations can greatly reduce planned maintenance intervals and failure rates, ensuring operations can run for longer.”
The standard S-Seal has been a proven solution for a number of years, due to its simple one-piece design, extrusion resistance and easy installation. “The XploR™ S-Seal and XploR™ FS-Seal
are based on the original S-Seal design, and offer the same benefits, but can better withstand the higher pressures and temperatures of deeper water extraction,” says Brown.
What sets these seals apart are new anti-extrusion features and specialized proprietary materials to extend the seal’s operating range beyond a standard S-Seal design. “Extensive testing and real-world installations have proven their resistance up to over 100 MPa and +200 °C,” says Brown.
Anti-extrusion is achieved through careful design of the elastomer seal body, tailoring its shape to achieve optimum stress distribution throughout the seal, using iterative Finite Element Analysis (FEA) cycles. This is then held by a corrosion resistant spring within the body, supporting the rubber elements, but allowing movement for easy installation.
“In some cases, with the S-Seal, we found wear on the mating surfaces related to the metallic garter spring due to small movements resulting from heat and pressure fluctuations,” continues Brown. “But by modifying the spring material and design to a composite, it retains the flexibility but is more forgiving on the hardware.”
The XploR™ materials offer Rapid Gas Decompression (RGD) and sour gas resistance, and meet important industry- specific standards and approvals, such as NORSOK, NACE, API and Total. Combine this with the design versatility of the new products, and the benefits are clear.
“We can really set ourselves apart from the competition with our custom capabilities. By customizing the seal, we can also provide other benefits, such as weight and size reduction. Trelleborg Sealing Solutions is set up to make the customization process quick and easy,” concludes Brown.
As a global company with local presence, local engineers work with companies while a global
manufacturing and logistics network ensure that parts get where they need to be, when they need to be there.