Ao Prao

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Clyde Sharpe
President of International Sales

Ao Prao was once a clean, pristine, and peaceful place. With its sweeping white sand and deep blue water, this part of Thailand’s Kao Sahmet Island welcomed tourists who enjoyed quiet walks on the beach. Today, Ao Prao is the scene of a massive cleanup effort. Earlier this month, an estimated 50,000 to 100,000 liters of oil (approximately 13,200 to 26,400 gallons) spilled into the nearby sea.

Independent analysts and representatives from PTT Global Chemical, Thailand’s partially state-owned oil company, disagree about the scope of the disaster. The images of slick, black beaches and a rust-red sea are irrefutable, however, and cleanup crews report a heavy smell of oil in the air. Although the effects of the oil spill are limited largely to Ao Prao Beach, fishermen are already reporting smaller catches.

Hose Failure

According to CNN, crude oil spilled into the Gulf of Thailand when a giant, flexible rubber hose burst during a routine transfer operation between a seabed pipeline and an oil tanker. Made by Goodyear, this heavy-duty conduit is replaced normally every two years, but failed after just one. The manufacturer plans to test the failed hose to pinpoint the cause of the catastrophe.

As the oil spill off the coast of Ao Prao proves, the failure of heavy-duty hose or industrial tubing can threaten livelihoods, harm the environment, hurt a company’s reputation, and affect the bottom line. For businesses that don’t deal in petroleum products, the stakes are still high. Whether a liquid comes from the ground, an oven, or an engine, a hose may fail if it’s made from the wrong type of rubber.

Chemical Compatibility

According to the National Association for Hose and Accessories Distribution (NAHAD), chemical compatibility describes the degree to which one material can contact another without an adverse change in properties. In other words, technical buyers need to consider how a liquid will react with the rubber that a hose is made of.

Buyers also need to know that different chemicals react in different ways with different types of hose materials. All rubber is not the same, and reactions may differ with nitrile, Buna, silicone, and EPDM. Diesel fuel and crude oil have different chemical properties, as do the fatty acids that come into contact with food equipment. That’s why suppliers refer to guidebooks that describe these interactions.

Applications and Requirements

Even coffee machines need to use the right type of hose or tubing. To avoid changing the beverage’s taste, buyers may choose platinum-cured hosing. This shows why suppliers need to ask application-related questions. Do you need a rubber hose for purified water or salt water? What happens to this water after it’s transported? Does it matter if the hose imparts a taste or smell?

Hose suppliers also need to ask about application requirements such as hose length, pressure, heat or temperature, and reinforcement materials. For example, high-heat applications often require silicone hoses. If a high-pressure hose requires reinforcements, do you need metal or fabric? If it’s fabric, how many plies do you need?

Lessons Learned

For companies in all industries, hose failure comes with consequences. Even if your business doesn’t deal in diesel fuel or crude oil, it’s important to source the right rubber parts. The oil spill off the coast of Ao Prao, Thailand offers one example. The recent failure of Buna seals provides another. For both buyer and suppliers, there are important lessons to learn.