In the oil and gas industry, utility heating is required in seasonal drilling and completion programs along with turnaround maintenance.

What Utility Heat Services are used For

There are several applications for utility heat, here are just some of the options:

1 – Fluid Heating

Frac water heating is the process of heating water before it gets pumped downhole to prevent freeze-ups within the pumping equipment and pipes.

2 – Gas Heating

Heaters are used when producing natural gas or condensate to avoid the formation of ice and gas hydrates. These solids can plug the wellhead and flowlines.

3 – De-sanding and De-waxing

High pressure and high temperatures are the best ways to remove debris and build up from tanks, wells, and flow lines.

4 – Steam Heating

High-pressure steam boilers are used to heat tank farms, c- rings, and ponds. This is the best alternative for smaller volumes of water. 

5 – High-pressure washing

Steamers and boilers are used to activate chemicals and clean the inside vessels, tanks, and pipes by using heat and pressure.

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6 – Turnarounds & Shutdowns

During a turnaround, the entire facility needs to be completely shut down and tanks and vessels need to be emptied and cleaned. Boilers and steamers are used to heat the facility and the equipment to prevent freezing.

Types of Heating Utilities


A boiler is a closed vessel where fluid (usually water) is heated. The fluid does not boil, the heated or vaporized fluid leaves the boiler and the vapour is applied to wherever needed and heats it up.

Fire Tube Boilers

A fire-tube boiler is a type of boiler in which hot gases pass from a fire through several tubes running through a sealed vessel filled with water. The heat of the gases is transferred through the walls of the tubes by thermal conduction, heating the water and ultimately creating steam. Boilers have the ability to supply very dry steam with little to no water being produced when running efficiently. 

Hot Oiler

A hot oiler is a truck- or skid-mounted unit used to heat oil or treatment fluid. Hot oilers are typically used in the removal of wax deposits from the upper wellbore section of wells in cold climates where low wellhead temperatures increase the risk of heavy crude oil to wax precipitation. Hot oilers have a suction and discharge line and the pump circulates the fluid that is in need of heating through the coil. Hot oilers do not have onboard water and do not make steam, they are meant to heat a fluid.

Steam Trucks

Steam trucks operate on the same principle a hot oiler does.  Water is pumped through a coil that is in contact with a large flame produced by a diesel-burning burner heating the water to a selected temperature. Steam Trucks can prevent freezing challenges and work stoppages in the cold winter months. Steam trucks are usually smaller and have a lighter weight when compared to a boiler or a hot oiler. They have the ability to pressure wash but do not have near the heating capabilities or versatility of a boiler or hot oiler. They do not produce dry steam as a boiler does.

Types of Heating

Direct Heating

Direct heating involves a solid material coming into direct contact with a heating gas to change the final temperature of the material.

Indirect Heating

Indirect heating does not allow the product to come in contact with air or gas or any other heating agent to change the final temperature. Indirect heat transfer uses conduction, radiation or convection to achieve temperature change.

Indirect Heating Advantages

Because of the many advantages it has over direct heating, indirect heating by means of heat transfer fluid is the most used system in the energy sector.

The main advantages are:

  • The boiler can be installed in the most convenient place, not necessarily close to any of the consumers, avoiding risks and improving safety conditions.
  • Being a centralized system, there are fewer risks for maintenance and/or breakdowns because there are fewer elements.
  • The performance of the boiler and the energy efficiency is much higher in indirect heating since the equipment is designed with this in mind.
  • Local overheating of the product to be heated is avoided and there is high uniformity of temperatures, it can be controlled with precision and the final quality of the process is better.
  • The heating and cooling processes, if required, can be carried out with the same heat carrier and with the same system.
  • It allows the formation of sub-networks of hot water, hot air or steam, by means of heat exchangers.
  • The thickness of the insulation in the consumer is more economical since the only place where high temperatures are reached is in the boiler.

Facility Maintenance

Utility heat services are a crucial element to ensuring that the operation ca.n run smoothly throughout the year. There are multiple services that are needed in order for an oil and gas plant/ facility to prevent issues such as freezing, debris build-up, etc. Some services that many utility heat providers offer include:

  • Facility Maintenance Turnarounds
  • Boilers and Steam Support
  • Facility Modifications, de-bottlenecking, and process improvement modifications
  • Rail Car & Yard Cleaning with steam and horsepower
  • Field Production Facility Maintenance and Modifications
  • Pipeline Maintenance and Repairs
  • Service rig heating
  • Wireline work
  • Coil projects
  • Water hauling
  • Pressure testing
  • Facility freeze up support

Common Oilfield Boiler Rentals

Skid Boilers

A skid-mounted steam boiler offers a small footprint since there is no housing or running gear associated with the skid-mounted boiler, it is possible to place a higher-capacity system in a smaller space. Although there are rigging and handling costs, for some long-term rentals those costs can be offset by lower boiler rental charges.

Mobile Boiler trucks

Mobile boiler trucks are less cumbersome as they are 100 % mobile and ready to go. They are self-contained units with no cranes or rigging required; no need for special handling to load or unload boilers at the worksite. They are the safer and most reliable utility heating solution.

Need a mobile boiler? Contact Harvest Oilfield Services:

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