Roustabouting and Retrofitting
Roustabouting: Retrofitting old tanks to become efficient requires special effort.
When you come across a tank that has been in the field on a long-producing oil well, things can get a little rough when opening tank top access ports. For example, in October, we had a crew installing a new liquid level instrument on an oil tank that looks to have been in the field for over 20 years. The 4” port was rusted solid. We had an 18” wrench on hand, and it didn’t move the port cap. Then a field worker showed up with a 24” wrench, and a 250-pound frame. Still nothing. Finally, the field manager showed up with what I call a He-Man wrench. The thing might have been 45” long! But even that didn’t budge the port. We took it up a notch and put the wrench on the threads themselves to gain more leverage, but it didn’t budge.
Before giving up, we grabbed a chain and attached it between the wrench and the catwalk, and started twisting it with a crowbar. Really, it was a make-shift come-along. After the constant pressure, somehow, the rust gave way and the threads moved!
Twenty-year rust can be pretty tenacious, but the come-along approach was the best way to unscrew the port. Add it to the toolbag in an industry where customers are trying to gain better Return on Investment for each well site, whether it is a 20-year-old stripper well, or a new high producer. At Kodiak Instruments, we specialize in the retrofit tank space—remote or old wells that need to become efficient to stay on-line. Our wireless instruments install in less than 30 min. (assuming you can open the port, of course), and deliver financial ROI in a similar quick-turn.
By Daniel Marriott