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Valve Techbook 2017

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16 | September 2017 | VALVE TECHBOOK: MIDSTREAM Political considerations And yes, even politics has an impact nowadays on the valve business. The buy-American drive cur- rently supported by President Trump often enters customers' thinking when they launch a new mid- stream project. However, those American-made valves may produce sticker shock compared to imports. Also, many standard, off-the-shelf valve types aren't made in the U.S. anymore, valve industry observers said. MRC noted in its 2017 report that "As we move through this new climate of activity, our teams are keeping a close eye on issues that have the poten- tial to impact both manufacturers and customers, such as U.S. President Donald Trump's 'Buy Amer- ican' domestic policies. This new administration's position on global sourcing could have a signifi- cant influence on the balance between supply and demand for the products our customers rely on and the projects they have planned. "Of note, in January 2017, the President directed the Secretary of Commerce to draft a plan requir- ing the use of U.S.-sourced materials for all newly constructed, retrofitted, repaired and extended pipelines located within U.S. borders. The regula- tions resulting from this plan have the potential to impact demand for those products and the supply of these materials to our customers. We are taking this issue very seriously and are monitoring any new developments," MRC added. Looking ahead Multiple issues and questions will continue to com- plicate midstream investment decisions in a basic asset found all long the energy industry's value chain. Valves—like any other component—will evolve as the marketplace changes, whether that market is for a processing plant, a railroad tank car or a crude oil terminal. The energy industry must be open to change to improve its efficiency and profitability, according to a presentation at the Valve World Americas Expo and Conference, held in June 2017 at Houston's George R. Brown Convention Center. Brindesh Dhruva, chief technology officer for Bray International, a major valve supplier, stressed in his conference presenta- tion the importance of continuing innovation. "Light bulbs weren't invented by someone trying to make a better candle," he said. A Valve magazine review of his speech noted that "Innovation comes in terms of process innovation, like LEAN and Six Sigma. It can also manifest in technological or cus- tomer experience improvements." "Take for example horizontal drilling and fracturing for oil and gas. Those were complete game-chang- ers," Dhruva said. "And more are coming now, like stemless valves. You torque them through magnetic conduction." Dhruva also reviewed the potential impact of 3-D printing on the valve industry. "You can have a prototype in days rather than months. It infuses innovation into the design process, because you can try things right away." "Valves typically used in pipelines are engineered and therefore not commodity items," Bowhay added. "It's difficult to buy engineered products through a B2B [business-to-business] system without a large degree of intervention, so IoT is not changing the traditional methods of valve procurement for pipelines—yet. "Technology is, however improving, safety and integrity of valve performance in critical applica- tions," he said. "Valve monitoring and detecting valve 'margin' is essential to ensure that valves oper- ate when called upon in critical situations. MRC's ValveWatch technology, which is the most advanced option in this area, should be of great interest to any end user that operates pipelines or plants where certainty of operation is essential." But whatever happens, it will beat listening for a whistle on a cold Wyoming night. n Certain specialized instrumentation valves must work at high pressures and in hazardous atmospheres. (Photo courtesy of Parker Hannifi n Corp.)

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