Advancing Energy: How Measurement Technologies Transform Oil & Gas from Wellhead to End-User

The utilization of pressure, temperature, flow, density and level measurement devices in pipeline storage, distribution and custody transfer systems allows midstream and upstream producers to communicate, monitor and control the flow of oil and gas from the wellhead to end-users. The lack of basic infrastructure in remote areas of many of the most prolific shale plays such as the South-Central Texas Eagle Ford Shale, North Dakota’s Bakken Shale and the expanding plays in the Permian Basin of west Texas require the latest instrumentation technology to collect and transfer the data to remote control rooms miles from these field sites. This information is critical to the safe operation and profitability of the producer.

“Producers spend many millions of dollars to install the pipeline, X-ray the welds and hydrotest the pipe,” says Rolando Perez, project manager of Rabalais Instrument & Electrical Constructors’ Instrumentation & Systems Integration Division.

“Correct, meticulous installation of process systems, tubing and compression fittings in the pipeline prevents lines from blowing or leaking – ensuring safe operations for staff, the community and the environment.”

“When oilfields become prolific, such as the Eagle Ford Shale has, many construction companies enter the market to provide instrumentation and process tubing services,” adds Darrell Harned, vice president of instrumentation and systems integration. “Unfortunately, many of these companies are unaware of the critical nature of correct insertion of the tubing and fittings. We’ve been called to remedy faulty installations time and time again.”

Rabalais has served the oilfield, refining and petrochemical industries nationwide for 30 years. Located just 60 miles from the Eagle Ford Shale in Corpus Christi, Texas, the company employs several hundred certified and trained electricians, instrumentation, RTU/SCADA and system integration specialists. With offices in San Antonio, Houston, Dallas, Midland and Odessa, Texas; and Louisiana, the company has long-term relationships with some of the biggest names in the petroleum industry, including NuStar, Anadarko, Chesapeake, Citgo, Valero, TexStar and Exxon, to name but a few, both in the field and in the refineries.

Rabalais provides installation, calibration, and loop check of all types of pneumatic/electronic instrumentation utilized for control and monitoring of process systems. The company’s NCCER Certified Instrument Fitters and Instrument Technicians can assist customers on any new construction, revamp, maintenance or turnaround project nationwide. Rabalais addresses the client’s business needs through conceptual design while utilizing state-of-the-art construction disciplines to examine the entire scope of the project. Its project managers and team leaders incorporate all project issues to provide the greatest potential of success for clients, including cost improvement, lifecycle expenditures, capital cost expenditures, project management, scheduling, procurement, installation, process training, service and maintenance.

Rabalais’ extensive experience in all types of industrial processing facilities has allowed the firm to create a safe and productive working environment that exceeds all national standards for the industry. It takes pride in its unique ability to integrate disparate systems to increase efficiency and production.

The company’s capabilities include:

+ Installation of pneumatic, electronic and/or hydraulic instrumentation per client standards and specifications
+ Selection and procurement of material per client specification
+ Design and fabrication of elaborate tubing tray support systems
+ Interpretation of client drawings and specifications
+ Installation and design of steam and electric trace systems
+ Install pneumatic, process impulse, sample & hydraulic tubing systems
+ Instrument and electrical construction, maintenance and turnaround services
+ Project estimating, planning and scheduling
+ P&ID walkdown
+ Constructability reviews
+ Control system maintenance.
In refineries, as in the field, instrument calibration is critical to a successful installation of any instrument system. Accuracy of the information produced by any instrument is dependent on proper calibration. OEM-stated procedures are used by Rabalais technicians to correct any inaccuracies and document findings. Services are offered in customers’ facilities without removal of the equipment or disturbing normal process operations. Rabalais saves time and cost during construction of a project by performing field and bench calibrations prior to installation. The company calibrates, certifies and documents every instrument. Pre-installed instruments are field-calibrated. All calibration services include complete function testing before pre-commissioning and start-up.

“Experience has taught us that project success requires early planning, continual monitoring, and full, open and regular communication with our clients,” Harned explains. “Rabalais programmers are experts in system integration design, providing interfaces and implementing complex control strategies.”

Since all departments necessary for successful integration are in-house at Rabalais, the firm is a single source for a complete turnkey control system project of exceptional quality. Formal project management methodology is used on every project. Rabalais’ mission is to ensure clients receive cost-effective solutions, reduced downtime, and are provided total asset protection.

From initial design and consultation, through system development, commissioning and support, Rabalais’ innovative control and automation solutions keep clients’ systems online.

Distributive control systems (DCS) or hybrid combination systems utilizing programmable logic controller (PLC) systems are integral to safe plant operations. Rabalais provides the following services for PLCs:

1.Control logic for various PLC and hardware vendors
+ relay ladder logic
+ function block diagram
+ sequential function chart
+ structure text
+ instruction list
2.Operator interface hardware programming (character displays to graphical touch screens)
3.UL control system panels
4.Fully documented control logic programs
5.PID loop control programming and fine tuning
6.Dial-up program support
7.Industrial communication layout design and implementation (Ethernet, ControlNet, DeviceNet, Modbus, Profibus and others)
Rabalais is a recognized leader in the petrochemical, refining and oilfield services industry. The company’s EMR safety record is unmatched, and its many safety awards attest to its commitment to training its staff for excellence.

“We always find it interesting how many companies we compete with during boom periods,” says Harned with a chuckle. “Rabalais has spent three decades investing in state-of-the-art technology to provide top-quality electrical, instrumentation, system integration and RTU/SCADA programming for our valued friends in the industry. When all the others leave, Rabalais is still growing our clients’ revenues and maintaining their projects and plants safely.”

For more information on how Rabalais Instrument & Electrical Constructors can enhance your bottom line, call 361-242-3121 or visit