Oil and Gas

Minimize costly downtime with plastics that perform in unforgiving environments

High-Performance Plastic Components Stand Up to Hostile Conditions

Few industries are as demanding on their equipment as oil and gas exploration and production. Extreme temperatures, harsh environmental conditions, corrosive seawater, chemical exposure, and extraordinary friction and wear demands all add up to make uninterrupted operation one of engineering’s greatest challenges. 

High-performance polymers offer many advantages over metal when used appropriately for machined components in oil and gas applications. With their light weight, cost-efficiency, durability, and resistance to heat, steam, chemicals, and corrosion, they improve performance and add exceptional value wherever they are applied: underground or in subsea systems, downhole or in rigging operations, and in exploration, oil refining, or hydraulic fracturing (fracking) operations. 

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Eliminate or Reduce Equipment Downtime

Ready to learn how plastics can help you eliminate or reduce downtime — which can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars per day?

The material experts at Curbell Plastics are here for you, ready to discuss your specific needs and guide you through the material selection process. We advise on and supply a broad range of engineering plastics and high-performance materials — including PEEK, PTFE, DuPont™ Vespel® Polyimide, PPS, and Nylon — critical for taking your oil and gas operations to the next level of efficiency, safety, and reliability. We also offer specialized services such as cut-to-size, fabricated parts, consignment, distribution, and packaging and kitting.

Here are some of the most common plastic materials used in oil and gas exploration, extraction, and refining.

PEEK

PEEK plastic is widely specified in the oil and gas industry due to its exceptional performance characteristics.

Some key characteristics of PEEK:

  • Resistance to harsh chemical and corrosive environments, including hydrogen sulfide at elevated temperatures
  • Superb hydrolysis resistance with high retention levels of mechanical properties after prolonged exposure to steam or sea water at elevated temperatures
  • Broad operational temperature range
  • Low levels of creep and excellent mechanical properties, which can be further enhanced by the addition of fillers such as glass and carbon fibers
  • Abrasion and wear resistance under high loads (bearing grades)

Common oil and gas applications for PEEK include:

  • Seal and packing components, such as backup rings, piston seals, and labyrinth seals
  • Subsea connectors
  • Poppets
  • Valve seats
  • Compressor valve plates

PTFE

Whereas PEEK is often used as an anti-extrusion backup due to its high strength characteristics, PTFE is softer and more ductile, which causes it to expand under compressive load and create an effective seal. PTFE is often specified where other common sealing materials, like elastomers, cannot meet the thermal, chemical, or tribological (friction, lubrication, and wear) demands of the application.

Some key characteristics of PTFE:

  • Exhibits the broadest chemical resistance of any commercially available polymer, due to its simple, fully fluorinated structure
  • Maintains ductility in cryogenic environments
  • Static and dynamic coefficients of friction are functionally equivalent, resulting in virtually no observable stick-slip phenomenon
  • Absorbs only a negligible amount of moisture

Common oil and gas applications of PTFE include:

  • Seal and packing components, such as O-rings, backup rings, spring-energized seals, slipper seals, and piston rings 
  • Sealing liquid natural gas or other cold media
  • Bearing and wear components (filled grades)

Other Proven High-Performance Materials for Oil and Gas Applications

DuPont™ Vespel® Polyimide SP and SCP Materials

  • Ball valves and backup rings, especially Vespel® SP-21

PPS (often filled grades)

  • Lantern rings
  • Downhole insulators

Nylon

  • Sheaves
  • Poppets
  • Wear pads
  • Various bearing components

Which plastic materials are right for your oil and gas application? Contact us today.

With access to the latest high-performance materials — and the expertise to assist with selection and troubleshooting — Curbell Plastics can help you with all of your oil and gas application challenges. Our technical support and friendly service will help keep your project on time, and on budget.

We serve customers in all corners of the United States and into Canada from locations nationwide, and we have distribution centers in several areas that are crucial for the oil and gas industry. This includes Texas (Arlington) and points throughout the area of the Marcellus Shale formation. We have ISO 9001 certification for nine of our locations and our corporate headquarters, and we maintain ITAR and EAR compliance company-wide.

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Frequently Asked Questions
Can plastic materials provide cost-effective alternatives to metals in oil and gas applications?

Yes. Because of their cost-effectiveness — as well as their reliability, durability, and special characteristics like resistance to chemicals and corrosion — high-performance plastics are steadily replacing metals in the oil and gas industry.

How does Curbell Plastics work to ensure it provides only high-quality materials?

We hand-select our material partners based on their ability to consistently offer superior quality materials, among other factors, and the materials we sell come from the most trusted brands in the business. 


Are carbon-filled or wear-grade PEEK tubes available via the spin molding process?

Yes, in addition to unfilled and glass-filled PEEK, carbon-filled and other filled PEEK materials are also available via this low-stress molding process. We can also offer materials other than PEEK, such as PPS. Ask a Plastics Expert or contact your nearest Curbell Plastics location for more information.

Can you provide MTRs (material testing reports) showing that provided materials meet the specifications of major oil and gas companies like Schlumberger, Halliburton, Weatherford, etc.?

Yes, we work with customers in many specification-driven industries and are well-equipped to help you meet their specs with MTRs.