Here at 3D Rapid Print, one of the fastest growing 3D Printing companies in the Thames Valley, we like to keep abreast of the latest innovations in 3D printing.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries once called oil “the engine of the world economy.” In 2006, the global demand for crude oil (including biofuels) amounted to 85.3 million barrels per day; in 2019 it is estimated to be 100.6 million, growing to nearly 140 million in 2040. Shale gas is increasingly changing the world’s energy landscape, with Latin America countries increasingly searching for new shale gas basins. The entire world’s population depends on the oil and gas industry, and the high demand for oil and gas makes it natural for the market to want to become more efficient and more cost effective.

Circa April 2016, Royal Dutch Shell of Haagse Hout, The Netherlands turned to 3D printing to prototype the detachable rig used to connect the Stones project’s FPSO to pipelines from the seabed. (FPSO is short for floating production storage and offloading; it can be defined as “a floating vessel that acts as a mobile offshore production and storage facility.”) This included making 3D printed accurate scale prototypes of a buoy that would weigh more than 3 kilotons, measure 25m in diameter and 18m in height, and be kept afloat by 222 differently shaped blocks of foam.

3D printing also enabled the system to be better demonstrated to the US authorities who would have to approve its use. The Stones field was discovered in 2005 and is located in the Gulf of Mexico circa 200 miles southwest of New Orleans, Louisiana. The facility’s pipelines stretch to almost 3km below the water’s surface and produce oil and gas from reservoirs almost 30,000ft below sea level. “Production” on the Stones development began in early September 2016. The FPSO was code-named Turritella and became the first FPSO to be used in the Gulf of Mexico region.

In late May 2016, it was announced that the one formerly known as GE Oil and Gas would start 3D printing end burners for gas turbine combustion chambers at its plant in Talamona, Italy. (GE Oil and Gas was a subsidiary of General Electric Company of Boston, Massachusetts. In 2017, General Electric Company merged then Baker Hughes, now Baker Hughes, a GE company, of Houston, Texas.) At the same time, it was announced that they were also starting a fully automated nozzle production line, claiming these were the results of €10 million worth of investment over the last 2 years. They hoped to have new productions lines fully operational by the start of 2017. Their first 3D printing laboratory was opened in Florence, Italy in 2013.

SmarTech Publishing of Crozet, Virginia describe themselves as “the leading provider of market research and industry analysis in the 3D printing/additive manufacturing sector.” Circa June 2016, they estimated that the 3D printing market in the oil and gas industry would reach US $450 million by 2021, growing to circa US $1.4 billion by 2025. In September 2017, BP of London, England described 3D printing one of “six next-generation technologies that matter for the energy industry.” All of this shows how truly significant what 3D printing will bring to the oil and gas industry will become, and it will only grow with time.

3D printing is an amazing tool. It can grow your small business or start a mini revolution in an industry. Explore what it can do for you when you contact us today.

Disclaimer: Featured image of “Tender and offshore oil rig platform, Louisiana” is in the public domain as it is a work of the U.S. federal government as it is a work of a United States Department of Energy (or predecessor organization) employee, taken or made as part of that person’s official duties.