Wellhead Valves Meet Special Application Challenges


Industrial valves are manufactured in a huge array of configurations to accommodate the specialized needs of a broad range of industrial process applications. The oil and gas industry is but one segment of many throughout the industrial sphere that present its own set of application-specific criteria.

Oil and gas production, essentially pulling raw material from the earth, has unique valve performance challenges. Extreme pressure and abrasive or erosive material are common elements of oil and gas production at the wellhead. The valves also need to tolerate the range of outdoor temperatures at the production site. Safe and reliable operation throughout these and a range of other conditions are part of the design criteria for these valves. Here are some of the specific valve variants and configurations applied in the oil and gas industry at the production wellhead.

Swing Type Check Valve
Swing Type Check Valve
Cutaway view of Slab Gate Valve
Cutaway view of Slab Gate Valve

  • Slab Gate Valve – Provides metal-to-metal seal and employs parallel gate and seal with a preloaded spring to assure positive upstream and downstream seal. Full port design allows for pigging.
  • Expanding Gate Valve – A parallel expanding gate seals positively against both seats, which are protected from the flow medium in the open and closed positions.
  • Mud Gate Valve – Designed to provide positive closure under rigorous field conditions with abrasive media.
  • External Sleeve Adjustable Choke Valve – Designed to regulate production well flow and downstream pressure. Different trim configurations provide appropriate levels of control.
  • Needle Adjustable Choke Valve – Utilizes different trim arrangements than the external sleeve type to provide good flow management, abrasion resistance, erosion resistance, and reliable service over a long life with low maintenance requirements.
  • Check Valve – Check valves of various types are utilized throughout practically all fluid flow operations, essentially anywhere that fluid is supposed to flow in only one direction. Oil and gas production presents some special conditions of abrasion, erosion, and pressure that call for special accommodation in the design and materials of construction.

There are other specialty valves employed at or near the wellhead, but the key takeaway here is that oil and gas production generally cannot be accommodated by general-purpose valves. I have included a document below that provides additional data and engineering detail for the valves touched upon in this article. Share your oil and gas production challenges with a valve specialist. The combination of your process and production experience with their product expertise will produce effective solutions.

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