AM for EnergyIndustrial Additive ManufacturingOil and Gas

Berenschot’s Onno Ponfoort on the new guidelines for accelerating AM adoption in oil and gas

From up to downstream, this is how it's going to happen

Stay up to date with everything that is happening in the wonderful world of AM via our LinkedIn community.

We’ve given ample coverage to the ongoing Joint Innovation Projects that see a number of key oil and gas industry stakeholders actively involved in establishing clear guidelines for additively manufactured parts in the oil and gas industry. That’s because the oil and gas industry is likely to be the next huge expansion segment for AM technologies, as a recently published report from SmarTech Analysis accurately projects.

Reducing downtime through a more flexible supply chain, or simply optimally designed components achieved through the design freedom AM allows, presents multiple paths to potentially huge cost benefits. Additionally, the oil and gas industry has also recognized engineering challenges exemplified by thousands of hours of engineering time, consistently changing part and functional specifications, challenges with machining and fabrication capabilities and the need for limited volumes of high-value parts which makes manufacturing and qualification difficult or inefficient.

Berenschot, a global independent organization consultancy, is actively involved in these projects and is providing key insights into how oil and gas companies can introduce AM in their supply chains. We exclusively spoke with Berenschot’s Senior Managing Consultant Onno Ponfoort to learn more about the practical applications and the potential impacts of these guidelines.

**This interview is one of several interviews conducted to produce the latest market report on additive manufacturing in the oil and gas industry, published by SmarTech Analysis. The report is available here.

3dpbm: Can you explain the motivations behind these JIP’s and Berenschot’s involvement?

Onno Ponfoort: Together with DNV-GL, we’re building a guideline to ensure high-quality parts for oil and gas, focusing primarily on spare parts. In the past it has been hard for oil and gas companies, especially those working subsea, to achieve full quality assurance and certified parts using AM. Without a reliable certification, companies will not use any kind of parts for subsea operations. The risks are too high. Parts need to be certified.

However, the current requirements to either re-certify parts that have already been certified by other manufacturing methods, or for certifying each different variation that can exist for a certain part or design, make it almost be impossible to quickly implement AM in oil gas scene.

3dpbm: What are the project’s end goals?

OP: This project really focuses on developing a practical way of producing parts that are economically viable and assuring their quality. It’s not a certification project but if a company follows the routine as we are describing it, they can more rapidly move through 80% to 90% of the certification process. We are not so much producing a guideline to produce a part; we’re producing a guideline to ensure quality in the production of parts. At this moment in time, very often you have to build two of the same part so that you can destroy one to run tests. We are developing guidelines to certify a part, its materials and whether it makes economic sense.

A map of key players in the Oil and Gas Industry, profiled in the SmarTech Analysis report. Many of these companies are members of the ongoing JIPs.

3dpbm: Why and when should oil and gas companies use these guidelines?

OP: The questions we want to answer are: ‘when do you select AM over traditional manufacturing? When does it make sense?’ It’s not such a simple black and white matter, because very often an AM part is functionally superior and can be delivered in the right timeframe, but the price of the part is higher than the original part. The business impact model that we are building within the JIP Project shows how to deal with the fact that you might pay more for a part, but in the end, still make an economically sound decision.

3dpbm: What is the timeline you’ve given yourselves for this?

OP: We started the JIP in January of last year [2018], and we’ll have a guideline ready later this year, targeting the first week of July for one of the guidelines.

3dpbm: Are you also looking at part production in remote locations?

OP: We are. Our focus now is to understand whether we can use AM to produce spare parts in such a way that we can do it on-demand and as close to the location as possible. By doing that, we expect to overcome a lot of the costs relating to having parts in stock or producing parts in advance and not need them. We’re also looking at functional improvements in large parts, leveraging the design freedom that AM can offer.

3dpbm: You mentioned subsea operations. Is this the only area you’re looking at?

OP: No, but it’s one of the most relevant areas. We’re working with major operators, including BP, Equinir, Total and Shell and we have a number of different operations to look at. Some at subsea, some are at the point where sea and land meet each other. Another area is midstream, where you have pipes of different diameters and you have to connect them. That’s something that AM can do quite easily. We’re looking at the production of impellers, cross-overs and gear housings. In many of these cases, corrosion resistance is one of the elements that we are testing, to make sure that they meet oil and gas requirements.

Onno Ponfoort
3D printed Inconel parts from APS for oil drilling.

3dpbm: In that regard, which are the materials you’re focusing on?

OP: We are working with two main metal technologies, powder bed fusion and wire arc additive manufacturing and the materials we are using are titanium and nickel alloys such as Inconel.

3dpbm: Why are oil and gas companies now looking increasingly at AM and they didn’t do it before?

OP: I think the first reason is the size requirements for parts. In oil and gas, we look at meters and in AM, until recently, we’ve been talking about millimeters and centimeters. There just wasn’t a technology available that could supply parts that are 2, 4, 8 or even up to 10 meters wide. The other element is materials: there are more materials now coming up and we are trying to learn to use multiple materials in a single part, to meet requirements like corrosion-resistance without sacrificing mechanical properties.”

3dpbm: Are you also looking at AM technology for indirect production? Such as 3D printed sand casts?

OP: It is not part of this project, but we are aware of the benefits of using a molding technology, which means you can rely on the same routine quality or guidelines that are already in place.

3dpbm: You mentioned the maritime industry. Which other industries do you think you can draw lessons from?

OP: I think that medical and aerospace industries offer valid examples because they’re highly regulated. Companies working in those segments understand what research and development mean in terms of budget and timing. I see a lot of benefits in all types of process industries and perhaps even more on the tooling side than on the end-product side. In my vision one of the major growth areas for AM in the mid-term is tooling.

Onno Ponfoort
Oil and gas requires very specific tools and components which could be quickly produced by AM, and even redesigned for improved performance.

3dpbm: Why do you think that is?

OP: The benefit is not so much that a 3D printed tool is less expensive, it’s about overcoming the standstill of a machine, and much more streamlined way to organize the maintenance of the machines. Using AM allows a company to set up tooling in a completely different manner, which in general results in a much more optimized cost management situation. However, this does require an overhaul of some maintenance activities.

3dpbm: Do you think oil and gas companies would bring the production internally or will they rely on external services to produce the parts?

OP: Typically, the oil and gas companies, the major E&P operators do not produce anything. They rely on trusted partners, contractors to produce parts. Very often the designs of these parts are owned by the contractors and not so much by the operating oil and gas companies, so you always have a setup where you have a number of tier 1, tier 2 and even tier 3 suppliers who in the end produce the parts based on the requirements and guidelines. These tier suppliers also very often rely on their own network of suppliers or knowledge centers to produce the final designs or a final approach to the part.

3dpbm: Is additive going to be more strategic for tier 1 or tier 2, or even more external suppliers?

OP: All of the above. I think it will be the tier 1 suppliers in a number of industries such as aerospace and automotive. Tier 2 suppliers need to understand how to leverage AM in order to become a key strategic partner in producing parts. Material developments are going very fast, so key suppliers would be on top of all kind of material developments and all kinds of other improvements in technology. If you look at more external suppliers, who are often very focused on specific parts, there is also a good chance that some of them will start focusing on AM to have a more competitive advantage in house.

Onno Ponfoort
Oil and gas companies rely heavily on trusted supply chain partners (tier 1, tier 2 and tier 3 suppliers) for part production and AM could provide different opportunities for companies at every stage of the value chain.

For a large number of parts and assemblies, AM can offer enormous benefits, but you also have to look at anything that has to do with heat conduction and cooling channels and can also have a great impact on offshore platforms. Those who focus on AM will definitely be amongst the winners in many areas.

3dpbm: You are working with companies such as SLM Solutions and Additive Industries as hardware partners in this project. Is this because they have developed specific oil and gas applications or they have specific expertise?

OP: They were the ones who were most eager to learn about the oil and gas industry, to make sure that their machines meet the requirements that the oil and gas industry has. I think one of the major benefits of participating in a project like this JIP, is that you really understand what the requirements of your industry are and you understand this by starting to produce parts.

3dpbm: And are you at all considering or are you looking at other areas such as the use of plastic technologies for prototyping or even composite technologies?

OP: We’re always looking at other possibilities, just in this specific project we’re focusing on metal at this moment in time. Outside of this project, I know that many are looking at new hybrid materials or new polymers and new ways to use them. The AM industry is interested in learning about new ways to meet the demands of the oil and gas industry, with an eye on sustainability. We have to put in a lot of energy in producing metal parts. If there are ways you can limit the use of materials and limit the use of energy I think that will be of interest. But on the other hand, you have to meet the steep requirements of oil and gas, and not all plastics are capable of doing that. I know, especially when you look at the properties required for molds, that you can use a number of plastics already, So it will be a mix tooling, molds and end products that I think the oil and gas companies are interested in.

3dpbm: If you were to guess, how influential do you think additive manufacturing could be in the oil and gas industry?

OP: In general, my answer to this question is that I hope that in the next few years it will grow to account for 0.01% of the global oil and gas industry’s revenues, which is actually an enormous amount. I think that a large part of AM will be hybrid business models integrating AM in the part development process, in tooling, in part repair and in near net shape manufacturing. Another area will be rapidly produced parts by DED and WAAM technologies and then finished subtractively. Oil and gas is a lot of piping, but perhaps you can just add additively manufactured elements to a standard pipe,  to make it meet specific demands.

3dpbm: Do you expect these guidelines going to have a global impact on AM implementation within oil and gas?

OP: Yes. We do have North American companies participating in the project and, while BP, Equinor, Total and Shell are originally European companies, their operations are global. DNV-GL will use these guidelines globally to accelerate the qualification certification of spare parts in oil and gas. Our business model tools will help these companies assess economic viability. Asian and Middle Eastern companies are also going to equally benefit from implementing these guidelines and tools.

**This interview is one of several interviews conducted to produce the latest market report on additive manufacturing in the oil and gas industry, published by SmarTech Analysis. The report is available here.


Composites AM 2024

746 composites AM companies individually surveyed and studied. Core composites AM market generated over $785 million in 2023. Market expected to grow to $7.8 billion by 2033 at 25.8% CAGR. This new...

Davide Sher

Since 2002, Davide has built up extensive experience as a technology journalist, market analyst and consultant for the additive manufacturing industry. Born in Milan, Italy, he spent 12 years in the United States, where he completed his studies at SUNY USB. As a journalist covering the tech and videogame industry for over 10 years, he began covering the AM industry in 2013, first as an international journalist and subsequently as a market analyst, focusing on the additive manufacturing industry and relative vertical markets. In 2016 he co-founded London-based VoxelMatters. Today the company publishes the leading news and insights websites and, as well as VoxelMatters Directory, the largest global directory of companies in the additive manufacturing industry.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button
Close Popup
Privacy Settings saved!
Privacy Settings

When you visit any web site, it may store or retrieve information on your browser, mostly in the form of cookies. Control your personal Cookie Services here.

These cookies are necessary for the website to function and cannot be switched off in our systems.

Technical Cookies
In order to use this website we use the following technically required cookies
  • wordpress_test_cookie
  • wordpress_logged_in_
  • wordpress_sec

Decline all Services
Accept all Services


Join our 12,000+ Professional community and get weekly AM industry insights straight to your inbox. Our editor-curated newsletter equips executives, engineers, and end-users with crucial updates, helping you stay ahead.