Conoco Phillips Water Injection Storage Tanks

ConocoPhillips is the largest crude oil producer in Alaska and operates numerous oil fields across the state, including two of North America’s largest oil fields — Prudhoe Bay and Kuparuk.

T BAILEY INC. was approached by ConocoPhillips with a request to fabricate two large water tanks. The tanks were intended for the Beluga River Gas Field, the site of the largest power generator for consumer use energy in Alaska.

This case study will share the process T BAILEY INC. used to fabricate these specialized water tanks, as well as the challenges we overcame to complete this project.

Conoco Phillips Water Injection Storage Tanks

Why ConocoPhillips Needed Our Water Tanks

ConocoPhillips has operated the Beluga River Gas Field since 1986 and over the last decade, it has begun using water injection methods to harvest oil. Water injection, or waterflooding as it’s also known, is necessary for oil reservoirs whose natural pressures have been depleted due to oil harvesting.

Water injection involves creating injection wells around an oil reservoir and pumping water into the oil field to increase pressure and sweep oil into a pump jack’s wellbore. Injected water is recovered, recycled, and reinjected into the ground in a repeating cycle.

Water tanks are installed above the field, near injection wells. The tanks are used to prepare water for injection and are also used to store water that is being recycled for reinjection.


T BAILEY INC. Was Uniquely Qualified to Fabricate These Water Tanks

A challenge for many companies is finding a steel fabricator who is willing to take on smaller projects.

ConocoPhillips only needed two custom-designed tanks and whereas other fabricators in the region would have charged exorbitant fees for an order like this, T BAILEY INC. was happy to partner with ConocoPhillips on this project.

What makes T BAILEY INC. uniquely qualified to handle smaller orders is that we are a start-to-finish shop-built tank fabricator. From design to fabrication, coatings to shipment, we handle every step in the fabrication process in-house.

Our in-house capabilities permit us to quickly tailor and optimize our fabrication process to meet the custom needs of a job. So while other fabricators can only stay profitable by taking on large shop-built tank orders, our flexibility enables us to partner with companies like ConocoPhillips for smaller projects.


The Challenges We Overcame to Fabricate Shop-Built Water Tanks for ConocoPhillips

The two shop-built tanks we fabricated for ConocoPhillips were huge — each one was a 600 BBL (barrel) tank, 12 feet in diameter and 32 feet tall.

T BAILEY INC. handled the design, shop drawings, fabrication, coatings, insulation, attached hardware, and shipping for these tanks.

Both tanks were cut from ASTM A516 Grade 70 steel plate and were designed to not only store water but to heat it as well. This required complex layers of insulation and an ability to heat water to a maximum of 200 degrees.

Once the water was heated, it would be injected into the ground for waterflooding.

Due to the scope of this project and the unique function of these tanks, there were a number of challenges that we encountered during the manufacturing process. These are shared here, as overcoming challenges is where T BAILEY INC.’s professionals truly shine.

1. Design and Engineering Challenges

The first step in the fabrication process was designing both the tanks. This was handled by T BAILEY INC.’s in-house design team.

One of the unique challenges our engineers encountered while designing these tanks is that they required a large amount of hardware, including nozzles, saddles, foundation platforms, and more.

For nozzles, we had to locate systems that were compatible with the specialized piping infrastructure being used by ConocoPhillips up in Alaska. We solved this challenge by relying on the trusted network of suppliers that T BAILEY INC. has created over the years.

As for the saddles, this was an unusual piece of hardware since these tanks were designed to stand vertically. Yet, our engineers had to design saddle rails for the tanks in order to lay them on their side for shipment — these looked a bit like the rails attached to the bottom of skid tanks.

The last design challenge was creating the tanks’ foundation platforms. Each tank had a steel foundation welded directly onto the bottom of the tank.

While saddle rails and steel foundations may not sound like a true engineering challenge, these posed serious problems for the tanks due to how they could have compromised insulation. Which brings us to…

2. Coating and Insulation Challenges

These challenges arose in part due to the multiple layers of insulation that were required (coatings, tar, foam, and steel siding), but mainly because of all the hardware that was attached to the tanks’ exterior.

The most challenging pieces of hardware to work around were the saddle rails. These transportation rails created a heat sink, which worked against our insulation efforts because they created two long beams of steel that were attached to the tank but not insulated.

Our in-house engineering team was able to come up with an innovative solution for this problem, which mitigated the heat sink and kept the tank insulated.

We also had to insulate the bottom of the tank, which, as you can see in the photos, was not a smooth bottom, but was made up of many pockets and walls (due to the steel foundation we had attached).

The foundation created another heat sink problem, but fortunately, this one was a little easier to solve. We were able to rely on our trusted network of contractors and brought in an insulation expert who filled every space in the foundation with hard foam insulation. This cut-off the heat sink and ensured that the tank was properly insulated.


T BAILEY INC. is the Ideal Shop-Built Tank Manufacturer for Your Company

T BAILEY INC.’s dedication to tank quality, technical capabilities, and experience are unmatched among tank fabricators on the West Coast and in the Northwest. The challenges outlined in this case study are examples of our unique capability to generate innovative solutions quickly — solutions that save you time and money.

Another key take away from this case study is T BAILEY INC.’s ability to design and fabricate any kind of custom tank. We specialize in designing complex custom tanks and no design is too creative or too bold.

To learn more about our shop-built tank services, contact T BAILEY INC. today.


The Project

Name: Conoco Phillips Water Injection Storage Tanks
Category: Shop Fabrication, Coatings

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