MRC Global: Leading Clients Through Energy Transition

MRC Global, the leading distributor of pipe, valve, and fitting products to the energy and industrial end sectors, is dedicated to assisting its client base in energy transition and methane reduction processes. By leveraging advanced industry knowledge and superior services, the company has proven its ability to help customers navigate the ever-evolving landscape of the energy and industrial sectors.
Valve World Americas had the great pleasure of speaking with several MRC Global employees, including Matt Hartfiel, Vice President – Downstream, Industrial & Energy Transition Valves; Greg Peterson, Vice President – Valves Actuation Measurement and Instrumentation; Lance Lorance, Executive Director – Valves and Automation and Charles Metrailer, Executive Director – Valves and Automaton, about MRC Global’s dedication to providing valves for a better future.

By Angelica Pajkovic

The energy transition movement has led to significant changes in attitudes and investments led by traditional energy companies as well as new emerging players. Tremendous stimulus for renewables and lower carbon fuels have shifted the industry trends to green energy projects and decarbonization efforts, including biofuel conversions, hydrogen, carbon capture, wind and solar. Commonly referred to as the “Fab 5”, these energy transition investments offer exciting and challenging opportunities to the valve industry due to the emergence of new technologies requiring higher temperature and pressure considerations.

Due to years of emphasis and experience with similar demanding production processes and applications, MRC Global is well positioned to assist energy transition clients. “Our globally recognized Supplier Qualification Process coupled with our supply chain teams allow us to align with the right vendor for each plication, leverage our global scale and sourcing capabilities and offer best-in-class solutions. Additionally, MRC Global has now assembled a unique team of technical specialists, inclusive of piping and metallurgical engineers, to assist our clients in the complex specification work required to make certain the right valve is properly specified and selected,” commented Metrailer.

Of the Fab 5 mentioned above, the biofuel and carbon capture investments have initially led the way with the majority of the energy transition projects. Hartfiel explained, “A typical biofuel capital project will contain approximately 18,000 valves in a variety of configurations, with an increased number of unique line classes and specialty alloys. Materials such as 347 stainless steel, Duplex and Super Duplex, Hastelloy C and Inconel 625/825 are commonly specified due to their enhanced chemical properties for higher pressure and temperature requirements.”

Carbon capture projects offer their own unique challenges in terms of valve requirements. For example, for CO2 pipelines, special attention must be given to O-ring materials as many common materials currently used in quarter-turn valves will absorb CO2 and can fail the first time the process line is depressurized. When looking at CO2 injection for enhanced oil recovery, typically API 6A ball valves are specified due to their ability to withstand higher pressures (10K, 15K). Changing industry standards also mean a necessity for product innovation. “In an effort to increase reliability and overall lifecycle performance, MRC Global now offers a new design technology that utilizes a cup and cone design (normally used in API 6A gate valves) from one of our core manufacturers. This solution addresses the limitations of low temperature O-rings if decompression is an issue in the process,” commented Peterson.

Advanced Expertise

As an international distributor, MRC Global is very familiar with the advanced emissions regulations currently present outside of the Americas. “Energy transition projects are evolving more quickly in European markets, so the experience that we are getting there will help us facilitate energy transition project growth here in North America,” said Lorance. With new emissions standards and legislation always in the works, along with the energy transition revolution, innovative valve technology is a must. Since process valves often account for
a considerable percentage of emissions released from an industrial plant, end users are increasingly seeking out valve subject matter experts (SMEs) to learn how they can improve and comply.

Still, it can often be a massive hurdle for companies and their employees to understand what standards need to be followed from a reliability and safety perspective. For this reason, MRC Global is prepared to offer its new and existing customer base extensive knowledge to assist in
the energy transition. “We have received a growing number of requests from end users in the midstream and downstream sectors seeking to gain a comprehensive understanding of valve industry testing standards,” stated Hartfiel. “It is critical for end users to be in full compliance
with standards to lower emissions of greenhouse gases as well as governmental consent decrees enforcing specific requirements. In addition, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has recently introduced regulations in the upstream and midstream sectors to reduce methane.” Lorance continued, “Recent studies suggest that roughly 60% of fugitive emissions released from process equipment within an industrial plant originate from valves. Because of our trusted relationships, customers are looking to MRC Global to help navigate these challenges and ultimately reduce their emissions footprint as the industry continues the transition to more sustainable solutions.”

Being Part of the Plan

MRC Global is aware of the challenges its customers face, both technically and in the marketplace. Whether it be internal projects timelines or a rush to be the first to bring a product to market, MRC Global wants to be involved in the early planning stages. According to one of the company’s significant end users, “The most important thing in a major project or turnaround is planning, the second most important thing is planning, and the third most important thing is planning,” explained Hartfiel. “Many of these energy transition projects are
fast tracked. The end users are rushing to be the first to the market, so many of the products – biofuels and such are very quick reaction, fast tracked projects, and planning is key.”

“With the expertise we have in pipe, valves, fittings and automation technology, getting MRC Global involved early in a process is very advantageous as it allows us to work with the end users and EPCs to identify the long lead items and determine the best technology available,” said Peterson.

“As their timelines are very aggressive and customers are looking for suppliers to fill the knowledge gap, it is critically important that we get involved at the planning stage,” added Lorance. “MRC Global is committed to filling that gap for its clients wherever possible.”

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Sara Mathov is a feature editor contributing to Valve World Americas, Stainless steel World Americas and other related print & online media.