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Hot work refers to all activities that can be performed on oil rigs which create heat and could therefore potentially ignite flammable materials and cause explosions; grinding, welding, cutting, etc.
Hot work was blamed for a recent explosion aboard a Gulf of Mexico platform which killed three workers and injured several others.
The platform was operated by Black Elk, and chief executive John Hoffman explained that the workers were cutting a line with a torch when flammable vapours within the line ignited and caused connecting oil tanks to explode.
Hector Maggi, the vice president of TFT Pneumatic Industrial Tools offers sparkles, heatless grinders and cutting tools to the offshore oil industry.
Unlike traditional tools, which use composite disks to create high friction and effectively burn through metal and other materials, TFT’s revolutionary tools use a tungsten-carbide disc with small teeth which chip away at the surface and cut the material bit by bit.
Maggi stated that with his tools the explosion at the Black Elk platform would not have occurred.
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TFT has been selling the tools for the last three years but with little success. The tools are made by the Norwegian company Safety Tools Allmet, and have been used in the North Sea, where safety standards are much higher than in the Gulf, for the past ten years.
One of the largest hurdles facing the success of the tools in the US is the price. A single grinder disc costs around $6,000 compared to just $3 for a standard composite disc.
Maggi justifies the price by explaining that the tools aren’t classed as hot work, so no special permits are needed to operate them, and the facility does not need to be temporarily shut down whilst they are being used, which can cost millions of dollars a day in lost revenue. Then on top of those benefits is obviously the fact that there is no risk of fire or explosions.
By. Joao Peixe of Oilprice.com
Joao is a writer for Oilprice.com