Instrumentation, System Integration and Expert Capability: Critical Success Factors for Pipeline and Refining Operations

This guest blog post is written by Darlene K. Gregory

Measuring pressure, temperature, flow and level in the pipeline is critical for midstream and upstream producers. When the pipeline is miles long, as many in the Texas Eagle Ford Shale, Bakken Shale and the Texas Permian Basin are, the quality of your process tubing, compression fittings and instrumentation is as critical as the pipeline itself to the profitability of the producer.

solenoid shutdown system # 2Instrumentation and process systems regulate interface levels in tanks to separate oil and water, so oil can be trucked to refineries for processing or to the nearest port for shipment. Faulty instrumentation or process systems can cause lower pricing for your product, as the oil is “contaminated” by excess water.

“Producers spend many millions of dollars to install the pipeline, X-ray the wells, and hydrotest the pipe. Correct, meticulous installation of process systems, tubing and compression fittings in the pipeline prevents lines from blowing or leaking – ensuring safe operations for staff, the community and the environment.” said Rolando Perez, Project Manager of Rabalais I & E Constructors’ Instrumentation & Systems Integration Division. “When oilfields become prolific, such as the Eagle Ford Shale has, many mechanical and roustabout companies enter the market to provide instrumentation and process tubing services. Unfortunately, many of these companies are unaware of the critical nature of correct insertion of the tubing and fittings. We’ve been called to remedy faulty installations time and time again,” said Darrell Harned, Vice President of Instrumentation & Systems Integration.

Instrumentation and process systems regulate interface levels in tanks to separate oil and water, so oil can be trucked to refineries for processing or to the nearest port for shipment. “Faulty instrumentation or process systems can cause lower pricing for your product, as the oil is “contaminated” by excess water,” said Harned.

Rabalais Instrument & Electrical Constructors has served the oilfield, refining and petrochemical industries nationwide for 30 years. Located just 60 miles from the Eagle Ford Shale, in Corpus Christi, Texas, the company employs several hundred certified and trained electricians, instrumentation, RTU/SCADA and system integration specialists. With offices in San Antonio, Houston, Dallas, Midland/Odessa and Louisiana, the company has long term relationships with some of the biggest names in the petroleum industry…NuStar, Anadarko, Chesapeake, Citgo, Valero, Texas Star and Exxon to name but a few, both in the field and in the refineries.

Rabalais provides installation, calibration, and loop check of all types of pneumatic/electronic instrumentation utilized for control and monitoring of process systems. The company’s NCCER Certified Instrument Fitters and Instrument Technicians can assist you on any new construction, revamp, maintenance, or turnaround project nationwide. Rabalais addresses the client’s business needs through conceptual design while utilizing state of the art construction disciplines to examine the entire scopesolenoid shutdown system #1 of the project. Its project managers and team leaders incorporate all project issues to provide the greatest potential of success for clients, including cost improvement, life cycle expenditures, capital cost expenditures, project management, scheduling, procurement, installation, process training, service and maintenance.

Rabalais’ extensive experience in all types of industrial processing facilities has allowed the firm to create a safe and productive working environment that exceeds all national standards for the industry. It takes pride in its unique ability to integrate disparate systems to increase efficiency and production.

The company’s capabilities include:

  • Installation of Pneumatic / Electronic / Hydraulic Instrumentation per client standards & specifications
  • Select and procure material per client specification
  • Design and fabricate elaborate tubing tray support systems
  • Interpretation of client drawings and specifications
  • Installation / Design of Steam and Electric Trace Systems
  • Install Pneumatic, Process Impulse, Sample and Hydraulic Tubing Systems
  • Instrument & Electrical construction, maintenance and turnaround services
  • Project estimating, planning and scheduling
  • P&ID walkdowns
  • Constructability reviews
  • Steam tracing
  • System Maintenance

In refineries, as in the field, Instrument Calibration is critical to a successful installation of any instrument system. Accuracy of the information produced by any instrument is dependent on proper calibration. OEM-stated procedures are used by Rabalais technicians to correct any inaccuracies and document findings. Services are offered in your facility without removal of the equipment or disturbing normal process operations. Rabalais saves time and cost during construction of your project by performing Field and Bench Calibrations prior to installation. The company calibrates, certifies and documents every instrument. Pre-installed instruments are field calibrated. All Calibration Services include complete control loop testing.

“Experience has taught us that project success requires early planning, continual monitoring, and full, open and regular communication with our clients. Rabalais programmers are experts in System Integration Design, providing interfaces and implementing complex control strategies,” said Harned.

Since all departments necessary for successful integration are in-house at Rabalais, the firm is a single source for a complete turnkey control system project of exceptional quality. Formal project management methodology is used on every project. Rabalais’ mission is to ensure clients receive cost-effective solutions, reduced down time, and are provided total asset protection.

From initial design and consultation, through system development, commissioning and support, Rabalais’ innovative control and automation solutions keep your systems online.

Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) Systems are integral to safe plant operations. Rabalais provides the following services for PLCs:

  1. Control logic for various PLC & hardware vendor
    • relay ladder logic
    • function block diagram
    • sequential function chart
    • structure text
    • instruction list
  2. Operator interface hardware programming (character displays to graphical touch screens)
  3. UL control system panels
  4. Fully documented control logic programs
  5. PID loop control programming and fine tuning
  6. Dial-up program support
  7. Industrial communication layout design and implementation (Ethernet, ControlNet, DeviceNet, Modibus, Profibus & others)

Rabalais is a recognized leader in the petrochemical, refining and oilfield services industry. The company’s EMR safety record is unmatched, and its many safety awards attest to its commitment to training its staff for excellence.

“We always find it interesting how many companies we compete with during “boom” periods,” said Harned with a chuckle. “Rabalais has spent three decades investing in state of the art technology to provide top quality electrical, instrumentation, system integration and RTU/SCADA programming for our valued friends in the industry. When all the others leave, Rabalais is still growing our clients’ revenues and maintaining their projects and plants safely.”

For more information on how Rabalais Instrument & Electrical Constructors can enhance your bottom line, call 361-242-3121 or visit

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Elizabeth Alford

Elizabeth Alford

Elizabeth Alford writes on significant news developments in the Eagle Ford oil and gas play taking place across South TX. She is a freelance writer with an extensive communications, PR, and staff writing background.
Elizabeth Alford

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