Oil producers are picky for good reason, according to Adriano Santos. As a sales manager with Heatec, one of the world's leading suppliers of heaters for platforms and other offshore facilities, he knows full well that the extreme conditions experienced on board demand only equipment of the highest quality.
"Normally, it's required to be explosion-proof, or suitable for Class V areas," he says, referring to the designation of areas where combustible gases are present. "The threat of corrosion means that they require special painting, and all sorts of other redundancies and accessories to make the heater more reliable."
Heatec works hard to ensure its products can stand up to the dangerous conditions normally encountered on an offshore platform. A typical heating system - one or two heaters, a pump system and an expansion tank with an output of ten million BTU per hour - is built with PLC controls housed inside NEMA 4X stainless steel panelling with Z-type purging, a CO2 fire suppression system, heat sensors and special paint that resists water corrosion. Heatec is one of the sectors largest suppliers of package heaters, which emerge out of the factory fully assembled and readily tested. "As you know, real estate on offshore platforms is valuable," adds Santos. "A packaged unit, for them, is ideal."
Offshore oil producers need to rely on suppliers that not only have a sense of tradition, but also the financial strength to support them in the future when they need it.
Heatec's products are designed to work in the most extreme climactic conditions. The company's heaters can be found as far afield as the baking heat of the Sahara to the frozen wastes of northern Alaska. In the case of the latter, Heatec prepares its products by using either special materials, like low-temperature steel, or insulation equipment. "We can offer instrumentation and components that are designed and rates to -50°C," says Santos. "Alternatively, you have the option of enclosing everything in a packaging we call the 'dog house', which is heated to an appropriate level."
That guarantee against equipment failure in extreme conditions is bolstered by Heatec's army of engineers. "Most of the other heater companies that have been playing in our market are much smaller, and do not possess an engineering group of the same size," says Santos. "At Heatec, we have a relatively large team of 30 engineers, who stand ready to tackle any challenge."
It's all part and parcel of the service customers sign up for at Heatec. "Our customers don't pay anything for that service," explains Santos. "Additionally, we have a fully equipped training facility with two rooms housing extensive simulation and heater repair equipment. Each room can house up to 48 people, and we make those facilities available to our customers all year round."
In operation since 1977, Heatec's reputation among offshore oil producers as a reliable partner in high-profile projects - some costing billions of dollars - is unrivalled in the sector. These qualities are underwritten by the company's core values: devotion to meeting the needs of the customer; honesty and integrity; respect for all individuals; and a commitment to the preservation of the entrepreneurial spirit, as well as to safety, quality and productivity as a means to guarantee success.
"Offshore oil producers need to rely on suppliers that not only have a sense of tradition, but the financial strength to support them when they need it," explains Santos. "We have the tradition, we have the brand recognition and we have that strength," he concludes.