Decades of helping customers in the oil and gas industry operate more efficiently in some of the most remote locations and toughest environments has made L&M Radiator the go-to industry leader and innovator for radiator and cooling products.
Radiator and Cooling Systems Applications Like No Other
L&M provides custom Mesabi-brand radiators and cooling systems for multiple applications in the oil and gas industries. The company has decades of experience in the oil and gas industry to draw upon, which is why it has earned a legendary reputation for durability and reliability second to none.
“Most of our radiators and cooling systems for the oil and gas industries are used on electric generators (gensets), which operate drilling rigs,” explained Roger Bauer, Southwest Aftermarket Sales Rep for L&M Radiators.
Although all are not necessarily operated all the time, each rig requires three to five generator sets for backup so if one goes down, there is no costly downtime. Diesel engines are commonly used as the motor to drive the generators. “All of those engines need to be cooled, and even more so, than the generator itself,” In addition to radiators L&M provides fuel coolers oil or charge air coolers as well, Bauer added.
Depending on the design of the offshore rig, the radiators and cooling systems can be larger, horizontal units and more centralized to feed several generators at one time. In certain circumstances, each generator may have its own stand-alone generator (aka genset).
“Oil and gas operations are multi-faceted and generate high temperatures – extremely hot – and require a complex mix of cooling components to prevent overheating and system failure,” explained Bauer. “This is where L&M excels. It’s why oil and gas customers come to us to help keep their operating systems cool and up and running, preventing costly downtime due to equipment and system failures.”
Overcoming Any Operational or Environmental Condition
Mesabi radiators, engineered and manufactured by L&M Radiator, are built to take the abuse that’s typical of many oil and gas operations, from dealing with extreme environmental conditions to the hazards of the operation itself, such as oil, grease, tar and other debris that can compromise ordinary equipment.
“L&M’s exclusive, individual cooling tubes seated in rubber seal design allows for shock absorption like no other. Vibration can create fatigue in many bar and plate coolers, but not for Mesabi radiators and coolers, which are designed to withstand an enormous amount of vibration and thermal expansion,” Bauer explained. “The tube expands at one rate and the water tank that is mounted to it expands at a different rate. The seals absorb all that movement without leaking.”
This expands and enhances the life of the radiator.
“Product lifespan is one of our biggest advantages,” said Bauer. “We have radiators in use that have been in service for more than 10 years. Most of our competitors cannot even come close to that.”
Mesabi-brand products also combat another significant challenge facing oil and gas customers: the harshest of environments.
“L&M engineers frequently work with drilling operations to customize radiators with corrosion-resistant materials such as brass tube cores or stainless-steel framework, special and epoxy paints to combat corrosive environments,” added Bauer.
L&M Ingenuity Manages Dirt and Minimizes Clogging
Oil operations are dirty. The oil itself creates problems and dirt is just simply part of the drilling process.
“The drilling fluid that is needed to run through the pipes to run the drill string alone creates clogging issues,” explained Brian Pierzina, Design and Applications Engineer at L&M. “It comes out of the pipes when they are adding a length of pipe or taking a length out. It squirts up onto the rigs as well as the rig workers. While rarely creating any immediate issues, if not managed properly, it can shut down an operation and cost you dearly in significant downtime.”
Other operational variables such as oil overflows can create havoc for equipment. For example, hydraulic fluid might leak and get onto the tubes and fins. This attracts more dust and becomes an air block that can lead to overheating. It is easily fixed with soap and detergents that dissolve grease and oil, but if it is not cleaned properly, the system will shut down and create an emergency situation in the process.
Another common problem is over greasing of fans on a drive shaft. This creates air flow issues as the grease gets picked up in the wind and flies into the radiator. It sticks like glue to the tubes and fins and then attracts more dust and dirt until it builds up to the point where it cannot cool itself and eventually overheats.
As a result, every offshore and onshore rig requires regular and rigorous cleaning and maintenance. If cleaning is not done on a regular cycle determined by the specific application and based on the user’s needs, the system will eventually clog and equipment will fail, resulting in costly downtime.
L&M minimizes the potential for clogging through ingenuity. The company engineered a cooling system solution called V-Tube Radiators that features an exclusive more clog-resistant tube design and configuration. Its design allows dirt and debris to flow through the spaces between the tubes, preventing clogs and making cleaning easier.
Cleaning Ease, Onsite Repairability & Operator Education Set L&M Apart
A drilling company customer in Southern Louisiana was very lax about maintenance on their rigs, including their radiators. As a result, the radiators would regularly overheat as the radiator fluid would evaporate out. Rather than refill with a proper mix of water and glycol, they would get water out of the nearest pond or river and refill with that.
As soon as it gets hot, the water evaporates out and the sediments in the water become like clay or brick material in the radiator. That client did not see how that action was causing the radiators to fail.
“Over the years, we really have seen it all and then helped fix it all,” noted Tim Cass, L&M Design and Applications Engineer. “We have seen oil packed inside radiators from using pit water out of a coal mine to cool them. We see radiators coated with oil inside when the engine blew an oil cooler. The oil cooler is replaced but they do not consider all the oil that went into their cooling system that ends up in the radiator because it’s the coolest spot.”
“I have even pulled a newspaper, from that day, out of a radiator,” added Cass. “Apparently, the operator tossed it out the window after reading it, and into the radiator it went. The shovel shut down immediately. We work to train and educate about regular maintenance and onsite repairs.”
Onsite education for L&M customers helps prevent those types of situations from happening again. “We are right there to help identify the problem and train the operators to keep all systems clean and running smoothly,” said Bauer, “– no matter what the working conditions.”
“Customers appreciate when we fix things,” Bauer added, “and they really appreciate when we educate their operators on how to prevent the issues in the first place as well as how to repair systems themselves the next time. Teachable moments make an impression. It saves everyone time and money.”
L&M Innovation to Guide Next Industry Trends
L&M Radiator continues to innovate in radiator and cooling systems and looks to the future of greener products. “Right now, there is a conscious effort to drive a greener image,” added Pierzina. “There is a growing concern to be cleaner by using newer engines. We are excited to continue to innovate and develop radiators and cooling products that help to minimize the footprint of oil and gas production across all systems.”
“We also are ready for the upswing we are currently experiencing in the oil and gas industries,” noted Bauer. “The price per barrel keeps going up. The shutdown in the pipeline business has made it harder to get oil and that will continue, but drilling activity is picking up because the price of oil is on the rise.”
“It is going to be a long process to get up to full capacity for many in the industry. The challenge for us will be the quantity of equipment with radiators that have been sitting idle for more than a year now,” explained Bauer.
“Customers will try to maximize that equipment, but we are seeing quite an increase in business already. New and former customers are starting to ask for build outs and quotes,” Bauer added. “We are ready and are looking forward to helping them all get back up and running as quickly and efficiently as possible.”