Shaun Findley reveals how to choose connectors that can thrive in the harsh environment of the oil & gas sector
When we think of oil & gas missions, we tend to imagine things such as huge offshore rigs. Smaller components such as electrical connectors are often overlooked, but crucial tasks such as drilling or extractions would be impossible without them. There are a number of key factors to consider when choosing connectors for oil & gas applications.
From extreme temperatures to flammable and explosive environments, electrical connectors used in oil & gas applications face their fair share of challenges. So, what factors should be considered when choosing a connector that can overcome these challenges and keep these applications running at peak efficiency?
When choosing connectors, the first factor to consider is the different Zones that the connectors will be used in.
In the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmosphere Regulations 2002 (DSEAR), Zone 0 is defined as a constant explosive environment, Zone 1 indicates there is often an explosive atmosphere and Zone 2 is indicative of a rarely explosive atmosphere. The UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) explains, “the primary purpose of zoning is to facilitate the proper selection and installation of apparatus to be used safely in that environment, taking into account the properties of the flammable materials that will be present.”
In a worst-case scenario, it is possible that electricity running through connectors could become an ignition source if it comes into contact with flammable liquids and gases in the environment. For this reason, all connectors used in explosive atmospheres must comply with the IECEx international standard, which governs the installation and use of electrical equipment in these environments.
Next, consider any additional features that will improve efficiency. For example, powering down systems to disconnect equipment, possibly in hazardous environments, can be very time-consuming and negatively impact productivity. This can be overcome by installing connectors that have hot disconnect capabilities, allowing you to disconnect and reconnect equipment without powering the entire system down.
Another way to maximise efficiency is to consider the connector’s ease and speed of assembly. PEI-Genesis supplies connectors that can withstand the challenges of the oil & gas industry, such as the Trolex Falcon 25 series, which is best known for its rapid mate-and-lock mechanism and has an assembly time of only a few minutes. The company is also an ATEX-approved assembler of the Amphenol Star-Line EX and Amphe-Ex, which are among the most popular oil & gas connectors due to their sturdy design and plethora of configuration options.
Shaun Findlay is with PEI-Genesis