Category: Company Updates

ExxonMobil Expands Mobil Serv℠ Program with Reliable Industrial Group

  • Mobil Serv has expanded its integrated lubrication services program to be an end-to-end solution for all plant commissioning, reliability and integrated service needs
  • ExxonMobil and Reliable Industrial Group engineers will work with customers to deliver a full range of services including machine performance insights and on-site support

SPRING, Texas ExxonMobil announced today it will expand its Mobil Serv℠ integrated lubrication services (ILS) program to provide a holistic maintenance solution for industrial operators in North America. Together with maintenance services provider Reliable Industrial Group (RIG), the Mobil Serv ILS program will be an industrial end-to-end solution for all plant commissioning, reliability and integrated service needs.

By utilizing RIG’s largest fleet of pre-commissioning and reliability service equipment in North America, the Mobil Serv | RIG team will be able to provide operators with end-to-end support for a range of services across a plant’s entire lifecycle, including vibration analysis and various flushing, oil-related preventative maintenance and pre-commissioning services. Most providers specialize in only one of these service categories.

Most importantly, this program goes beyond simple service execution. Through the Mobil Serv | RIG team’s lubrication and machine systems performance expertise – as well as services such as Mobil Serv Lubricant Analysis, energy efficiency testing and on-site inspections – operators will have better access to critical data and insights about their operations and can work with the team’s experts to build tailored lubrication strategies that help achieve their business ambitions. For larger operators, Mobil Serv | RIG will also be able to embed certified and well-trained technicians on-site at the customer’s location to help with daily program management and execution.

“In today’s increasingly complex operating environment, companies want partners who can be available on-demand and can serve all their needs,” said Matt Dinslage, ExxonMobil’s brand and strategy advisor for Mobil Serv in North America. “Our new relationship with RIG enhances our already strong field presence and ensures we can help customers build and execute maintenance solutions that help them achieve their productivity and sustainability ambitions.”

The enhanced Mobil Serv ILS program also includes training and consultative services to help operators navigate technology and workforce challenges related to the accelerating pace of technological change and the emergence of a new generation of workers.

The Mobil Serv | RIG team leverages decades of experience from around the world to help customers better interpret machine insights on their own. The team can also provide regular training to help younger generations of engineers learn quickly and help more experienced engineers take full advantage of today’s most advanced technologies.

“Cutting-edge manufacturing technologies – as exciting as they are – can’t help a business if its maintenance team doesn’t fully unlock its capabilities,” said Jason Bandy, president of RIG. “One of the most exciting outcomes of our relationship with the Mobil Serv team is that we will deliver insights and services to customers across the region while also working hand-in-hand with customers to train their teams to make some of these decisions themselves – helping improve the long-term success of their businesses.”

The enhanced Mobil Serv ILS program is available to industrial operators of all sizes across the United States, Canada and Mexico.

About Reliable Industrial Group

Reliable Industrial Group (RIG) ( has locations throughout the U.S. and Canada, with primary service operation in Houston, Texas, RIG performs technically advanced highly specialized industrial pre-commission cleaning, oil flushing, chemical cleaning, varnish mitigation, steam and air blows, hydrolazing and other emergency, pre and post operational decontamination services to guarantee system cleanliness on critical turbine, compressor and hydraulic systems in the US, Canada and Mexico. The company was founded in 1989 and is experiencing consistent growth by providing the market with technically trained operators and engineers. For more information please call 800-770-4510 or contact [email protected].

About ExxonMobil Fuels & Lubricants

ExxonMobil is one of the world’s largest suppliers and marketers of fuels, lubricants and specialties, including lubricant base stocks, waxes and asphalt. Tracing its lubricants history to the Vacuum Oil Company, formed in 1866 and acquired in 1879, ExxonMobil has been at the forefront of lubricant technology innovation for more than 150 years. Its breakthrough products have helped to power some of mankind’s greatest technological feats, including the first gasoline-powered automobile, the first electric generating system, the first powered flight and the first space shuttle launch, among others. Today, ExxonMobil continues to develop new lubrication solutions for tomorrow’s machinery, to help keep the world moving.

Optimizing Maintenance of Gas Processing Facilities

Regular maintenance and lubricant reconditioning of critical gas processing equipment can extend the life of your critical components, reduce oil replacement costs, and prevent the major causes of equipment failure.

Which services should you be performing and how often? The chart below lays out an optimal maintenance schedule for Gas Processing Plants. Use this as a guide for setting up your maintenance program:


Table 1. Maintenance Schedule for Gas Processing Plants


If you don’t want to have to worry about tracking and upkeeping these reliability services yourself, the Reliable Industrial Group (RIG) philosophy is to embed a full-time technician to support your plant’s maintenance and reliability ambitions. Current Programs may include MLA or MLT trained personnel to perform services including:

  • On site reclamation of hydraulic fluids
  • Air breather supply and replacement
  • Oil filter supply and replacement
  • Oil sampling
  • Oil sample report review
  • Inline filtration, dehydration, and varnish mitigation
  • Documentation, maintenance reporting, cost savings analysis

RIG’s embedded technician program is not limited to the above services. We can customize a number of reliability programs to meet the safety and reliability goals of your facility.


To work with the industry leader in plant reliability and maintenance services, call 800-770-4510 today or learn more at

Preventing Bacterial Growth in Your Turbine

Bacteria colonies are a growing and expensive problem

As steam turbines throughout the United States age and maintenance intervals are pushed out, preventing bacteria growth inside turbines is becoming ever more important. Bacteria colonies can affect oil quality, produce corrosive by products, and clog control systems which can result in significant repair costs.

There are three main types of bacteria that grow in lube oil systems:

  • Sulfate Reducing Bacteria (SRB), which are anaerobic bacteria that survive off sulfate
  • Acid Producing Bacteria (APB), also anaerobic and ferment sugars, usually light organic acids
  • General Aerobic Bacteria (GAB), which require oxygen to survive and grow

Specific conditions must exist for the bacteria to develop and grow. Water must be present, but as little as 0.5 mL of water per Liter of turbine oil can do the trick. Organic material (carbon, nitrogen, phosphorous), optimum temperatures, stagnant or low flow areas of the system, suspended particles, and emulsification of the oil are the other key ingredients. The presence of oxygen will act as a accelerant, speeding up bacteria growth. But how do you know if these conditions have developed in your turbine?

Operational Signs of Bacterial Growth

Lab analysis is the best way to confirm the presence of bacteria and the only way to know which type you have. But, there are some other signs and symptoms you can look for:

  • Do you see any clear, silicone colored gel inside the site glass of your oil filtration skid?
  • Are your filters frequently plugged with a jelly substance? What about your control orifices or lines?
  • Are you controls slow to respond or under responding? Have you had a unit trip recently?
  • Have you been operating for prolonged periods with water levels greater than 500 ppm?
  • Are you seeing emulsified oil or an oil/water mix that will not easily separate?
  • Has your turbine failed any of these tests recently?
    • Water demulsification test (ASTM D1401)
    • Turbine oil foaming characteristics test (ASTM D892)
    • Relatively rapid turbine oil oxidation as measured by the RPVOT test (ASTM D2272), especially if the oil has not been overheated
  • Do you see any isolated, concentrated rust spots on metal parts of filter ends, turbine bearing components, and so on?

How to Remove Bacteria from Your Turbine

If you do suspect you have a problem, or even if you just want peace of mind and simple want to check, here’s what you should do.

  1. Confirm the presence and type of bacteria with the help of a fluid analysis lab. Don’t know a good lab? We can help with that. Simply call us at 1-800-770-4510 and we can be on-site within 24 hours or less.
  2. Remove the contaminated oil. Do not use in-plant piping during the oil removal – this will only increase the risk of spreading the bacteria.
  3. Inspect and clean the lube oil systems, dissembling and cleaning major components, especially reservoirs and filter housings.
  4. Have a high volume, high temperature oil flush performed on the system. Do not use old oil for this flush! Bacteria, bacteria, bacteria!
  5. Refill the system with new oil
  6. Add recommended biocide to the lube oil

What Oil Flush Should I Use?

Knowing the difference between oil flushes, when to use which, and the proper terminology to describe them is key to extending your equipment life. While our certified field technicians are exceptional at making sure the right flush is applied every time, it is important to us that our customers understand what is happening with their lube oil and are integral part of the overall oil cleanliness management plan.

The main categories of oil flush are:

1. High Velocity Flush
With a descriptive, memorable name, this is the type most customers have heard of. It is the best approach to take during all major maintenance, system failures, or when you large amounts of contaminants/debris are in the system. It is the most effective at removing all lingering materials and particles. High velocity flushes create chaotic flow within the system, breaking off and removing any unwanted, clinging debris. The violent nature of this action requires that bypasses for sensitive system components such as pumps, valves, bearings, orifice plates, accumulator bindings etc. are protected during the flush. Verify results with inspection screens/media and particle counts.

One misconception about this process is that high velocity occurs when high turbulent flow is achieved. While turbulent flow can be achieved at Reynolds numbers around 4,000, this is normally not enough turbulence to remove all damaging debris. Most high velocity flushes target a Reynolds number of 20,000 or 2-3 times the normal system flow rate. 

2. System Flush
Most appropriate for light maintenance work and non-critical systems, this flush utilizes system pumps. Like with high velocity flushing, all critical components should be bypassed with jumper hoses and protected. Using system pumps to flush out foreign material will take longer than using an external pump, which is why this method is not recommended for turnarounds or maintenance with a strict deadline.

3. Circulation Filtration
A system in production can undergo circulation filtration, with pumps running in the normal flow pattern. Circulation filtration is limited in scope, but can successfully clean reservoirs or aid in filtering/changing lubricants. External filtration off a reservoir is the typical approach. It is appropriate for annual maintenance, but not for any outage that includes pipe breaks or the opening of bearing housings. Verify results with a lab analysis or field kit.

4. Rinse/Purge
When changing lubricants or displacing cleaning chemicals (including detergents), a rinse/purge flush is often utilized. The procedure includes draining the system, refilling the reservoir to the minimum circulation level, and then using the system pumps to circulate oil in a normal flow pattern. Usually only a particle count is needed to verify, but labs or field kits may be used if employed during a varnish mitigation procedure.

We always recommend consulting with an oil flush expert if you are unsure which oil flush is appropriate or how to remove contaminates from your system. However, you should have an annual maintenance plan that involves regular lube oil flushes to control ISO cleanliness levels. If you don’t have one in place now, speak to one of our certified technicians about mapping one out and getting into place, or check out our blog on how to develop one.

Source: Larry B. Jordan

What is Pre-Commissioning and What Does it Include?

Pre-commissioning is a critical project phase that takes place following the construction of piping and process systems, but before those process products are introduced into the systems. The purpose of pre-commissioning is to safeguard the integrity of your systems and ensure they don’t have debris or contaminants that can damage equipment and delay system startup.


  • Helps ensure project ROI
  • Reduces startup delays
  • Ensures the operability of critical equipment, which maximizes system uptime

In this post, we cover the most common pre-commissioning methods for cleaning your system of mill scale, debris and other contaminants. It’s important to note, when you enlist a service provider to handle pre-commissioning for your system, these techniques should be customized to your system.

Air Blow Cleaning

  • In air blowing, air is pumped through your system at more than 1.5 times PSI above normal operation, creating a drag force that removes debris
  • The process involves specialty equipment to pressurize the system, including: air receivers, quick-opening valves, oil-free, dry compressed air and fittings and hoses
  • Once pressurized, stored energy pushes out debris in a controlled manner so it doesn’t damage expensive equipment downstream
  • Air blowing is the simplest, fastest, and least expensive cleaning method

Learn more about our air blowing services.

Steam Blow Cleaning

  • Steam blows are necessary for most steam lines and turbine systems
  • In this process, high-pressure steam is blown through temporary piping toward steam receivers to remove debris, usually at 1.2 times PSI above normal operation
  • There are multiple approaches to steam blows, including the puffing method and the continuous blowing method
  • There are significant noise and temperature hazards that require a strong process to control — learn more in this article

Learn more about our steam blowing services

High-Velocity Oil Flushing (HVOF)

  • All rotating equipment must be cleaned and prepared before going into operation
  • For large-scale operations, a high-velocity oil flush (HVOF) is the most common method
  • In this approach, lube oil is run through your systems and filtered out, bringing contaminants with it
  • This requires system and turbulent flow analysis as well as a detailed flushing plan to ensure success
  • System cleanliness is proven using automatic particle counters or manual microscope analysis on filter paper, depending on the system

Learn more about oil flushing

Hydrostatic/Leak Testing

  • Following cleaning of tanks, piping and vessels, it’s crucial to test the system’s structural integrity and ensure there aren’t leaks
  • This can include pneumatic testing, hydrotesting, helium leak detection and other approaches

Learn more about hydrostatic testing services

Chemical Cleaning

  • Chemical cleaning is used on pipe systems to remove surface contaminants
  • It dissolves soluble debris and absorbs them into a solution
  • It’s crucial to get this procedure right, as without proper planning, filtration and removal, it’s easy to leave debris behind
  • It’s particularly important to select the correct, OEM-approved cleaner for your system

Learn more about the chemical cleaning process from this guide

Fluid Pumping

  • High-velocity flushing can also be used on large bore piping to remove debris
  • The same approach is used for boiler feed water flushing, glycol flushing and water flushing


  • Dewatering is the process of removing water from solid material
  • There are several approaches, including: centrifugation, filtration and other liquid separation approaches
  • Dewatering is a simple process, but must be handled with care in order to protect the environment from unexpected spills

System Filtration

  • Many pre-commissioning services require filtration
  • One approach is to set up a slip stream on a live system
  • Sometimes, if heavier-duty filtration is required, it’s necessary to connect external filters full bore into the system

Selecting a Pre-Commissioning Service Provider

As pre-commissioning is such a crucial part of a project process, it’s best to use a professional services provider. We recommend selecting a professional partner to:

  • Design, manage and execute pre-commissioning strategies
  • Achieve cost-effectiveness, scheduling, quality and reduction of project risk
  • Bring experience, knowledge and integrity
  • Have an experienced, professional team of field staff
  • Have experience working with companies like yours

At RIG, we take pride in delivering excellent pre-commissioning services and ensuring our clients’ success.

When to Use High Velocity Oil Flushing (HVOF) vs. Air Blowing

For plant equipment to function properly, they must be free of debris, varnish and contaminates. Two common techniques for system cleaning are high-velocity oil flushing and air blowing. But when should you use air blowing vs. HVOF?

Air blowing is a somewhat more versatile and cost-effective way to remove loose debris and hydro testing fluid, though HVOF is better suited for more robust applications. Fundamentally, High-Velocity Oil Flushing (HVOF) is an efficient way to eliminate debris and varnish from pipelines as well as newly constructed systems. An HVOF procedure involves flushing oil at a specifically engineered force so that the circulating fluid removes debris from the internal pipe surfaces. The fluid is then filtered and re-injected to remove more debris.

Similarly, Air blowing removes construction debris and other contaminants from process and piping systems. Air is forced through piping and systems at high speeds, scrapping debris and blowing them out. The blows are sequenced at a minimum cleaning force ratio (CFR), which is 1.5 times the force under normal operating conditions. There are several types of air blowing methods, including Decompression (rapid pressurizing and de-pressurizing), Pulse/Puffing (Valves Puff Air in Batches), and Continuous Blowing.

HVOF and Air Blowing: Advantages and Disadvantages

Both the HVOF and air blowing methods come with advantages and disadvantages. summarized in the chart below:

Selecting the right cleaning method depends on several factors. Age of the system, size and shape of the piping, cleaning goals, and level of contamination are a few of the more important factors. Using a pre-commission or preventive maintenance partner experienced in cleaning is the best way to ensure the right method is selected and executed safely and quickly.

About Reliable Industrial Group

Energy Services International provides complete lubricant analysis, cleaning, varnish removal and more to the oil and gas, energy, petrochemical, and refinery industries.

At RIG, we:

  • Are a one-stop shop for all commissioning services
  • Offer deep experience
  • Use in-house planning, engineering, and procedure development

Our team of highly trained, certified professionals have served some of the biggest plants worldwide. We deliver a job well done, time and again, on time, on schedule and on-budget. In the process, we build trusting relationships that stand the test of time.

Learn More About Our Services

How Set Your Target ISO Cleanliness Codes

ISO cleanliness codes help us understand the amounts and sizes of contaminating particles in fluids and set target goals when cleaning fluids. ISO codes quantify contamination levels per milliliter of fluid at three distinct particle sizes: 4µ, 6µ, , and 14µ.

When you are looking at an ISO code, you are looking at three measurements;

1. The volume of particles in the fluid that are 4µ in size and greater
2. The volume of particles 6µ and greater
3. And the volume of particles 14µ and greater.

What is often the most confusing about ISO codes is that the ISO number is a code that corresponds to a range, and is not a volume measurement itself. The
chart below shows how ISO codes correspond to volume measurements.

The important thing to remember is that for every 1 point increase in ISO code, there is a DOUBLING of the contaminate volume range. So, if you go from a code 19 to a code 20, you jump from a contaminate range of 2,500-5,000 particles per milliliter (p/ml) to a range of 5,000-10,000 p/ml.

While every situation is different, we are often aiming for ISO code ranges that land somewhere between 12-17 for the first number, 10-14 on the second, and 8-13 for the third AFTER fluid reconditioning.

When we set goals for fluid reconditioning programs, we take several factors into consideration. Above is an example of a chart we might use to reference the following key factors and determine acceptable ISO codes and particle ranges. When using this chart, we are taking into account:

  • Your main objectives for the cleaning program (minimizing repairs, extending equipment life, meeting regulations, satisfying warranties, etc)
  • The most sensitive component coming into contact with the fluid, This component is the one we want to based the entire standard off of to make sure our fluid is optimized for that critical piece of equipment.
  • The type of fluid used (petroleum or non-petroleum based fluids).
  • The presence of additional factors, including:
  • How critical the most sensitive component is to safety or overall system reliability
  • Frequent cold starts
  • Excessive shock or vibration
  • Severe operating conditions

Use the list of parameters below to carefully consider operational and environmental conditions. Once complete, find your Recommended Cleanliness Level (RCL) by plotting weighted criteria on the chart on the next page.

The Complete Field Guide to Lubricant Maintenance & Troubleshooting

The more contaminates floating around your fluids, the more wear and tear your systems and equipment take. To know  whether you are putting machines at risk, you have to know what contaminate levels are safe. Use this guide to learn how to:

  • Correctly identify, analyze and improve lube oil contamination problems
  • Interpret and set ISO code targets
  • Select the correct methods for sampling and analyzing fluids
  • Flushing best practices,
  • Use helpful conversion charts
  • And more

Varnish Removal

What Is Varnish?

Before we discuss how to remove varnish buildup, it is important to understand what it is and how it occurs. As oil is heated and cooled under normal operations, oxidation in lubricants and additives creates organic by-products. This results in the formation of soft, sticky, polar insoluble particles floating in the oil and a varnish buildup on metal surfaces.

Varnish is most often found in areas of low flow and cool temperatures (tanks and reservoirs) and hot surfaces where oxidation is accelerated. Varnish reduces lubricating oil quality and needs to be removed periodically.

How to Remove Varnish from Industrial Equipment

Varnish cannot be removed with mechanical filtration. Side stream or kidney loop filtration processes will need to be setup to treat and prevent varnish, but will not affect normal operations. Current varnish buildup may require chemical cleaning and system flush, but there are ways to prevent buildup from occurring in the first place.

There are three technologies that remove insoluble varnish precursors from oil:

  • Depth Media Filters – target insoluble varnish precursors by absorption. This is the least expensive option, but can have varied results depending on system operating parameters.
  • Balance Charge Agglomerationor BCA, splits oil into two separate streams – one positive-charged stream and one negative-charge stream, then they are remixed where the positive and negative particles agglomerate into particles large enough to filter. To avoid agglomeration downstream, it is important to change the BCA filters at least every six months. This method is both effective and fast, but must be properly managed.
  • Electrostatic filtration is conducted by applying a positive or negative charge to attract varnish precursor particles. This method avoids the issue of BCA downstream agglomeration since no opposite charge is applied.

Additionally, there is a new technology available to target soluble varnish precursors.

Charge Bonding, or ICB, targets soluble varnish precursors and works quickly within a few days. One drawback is that because it targets polar oil components this method can also remove polar additives like rust inhibitors. Currently, this technology is mainly focused on gas turbines which have low water content.

Varnish deposits remain an issue. However, as these technologies continue to improve and new ones are developed, varnish removal processes will continue to become more effective. If you are looking for an experienced varnish removal partner or chemical cleaning services, please don’t hesitate to reach out to one of our certified technicians to discuss your project today.


Brett, Caleb. “The Outsourcing Laboratory”, 2003.
Hetherington, Paul. “Round Table: Off-Site Labs, Industry Professionals Voice Their Opinions about Off-Site OIl Analysis” Machinery Lubrication. Machinery Lubrication, 1 January 2003. Web.
Clark, Randy. (May 1, 2003). Email Interview.

Is Your Hydraulic Fluid Getting Darker? Here’s What To Do

Hydraulic fluid is the lifeblood of your system, keeping everything lubricated and ensuring smooth machinery operation. It’s critical to regularly test your fluid to ensure contaminate levels are below ISO cleanliness levels and lubricant is circulating properly throughout your system. Unmonitored changes to your fluid could produce harmful effects that impact your system performance. But what do you do when your fluid is getting dark?

When Fluid is Too Dark

The first step is to have your fluid lab tested. Tests to uncover specific issues include:

  • Fluid Analysis
  • Acid Number (using FTIR)
  • Viscosity (using FTIR)
  • Oxidation (using FTIR)

Fluid Test Results Don’t Confirm Anything

If the fluid analysis comes back normal and the acid, viscosity and oxidation come back as stable, that indicates there’s no oxidation present in your hydraulic fluid. The next step is to inspect your valves. If there’s residue on the valves, there’s a possible indicator varnish is precipitating from the fluid.

What is Varnish?

Vanish is the byproduct of lubricant degradation and is generally unstable in oil. As such, it’s prone to form deposits or separate from your bulk oil. Varnish deposits can form on machine surfaces throughout your system, slowing down system performance, limiting valve function and shortening the life of your oil.

The primary cause of varnish is thermal degradation of some sort, which occurs in the absence of oxygen. Thermal degradation is caused by, you guessed it, heat! Typically, there are two broad causes of overheating in a hydraulic systems:

  1. A hot spot caused from an external heat source in close proximity to the lube system
  2. An implosion of entrained bubbles as the bubbles flow from the reservoir into higher pressure zones, such as pumps and valves

What to Do If You Confirm The Presence of Varnish

To solve the problem before it hurts your system performance, follow these steps.

  1. Confirm Thermal Degradation

Have a laboratory provide the FTIR curve of your oil. Don’t have them look at the wave-number region, where oxidation levels are measured. Instead, have them check for a peak in the nitration region. If a peak is present, then you’ve confirmed the presence of thermal degradation.

  1. Perform Root-Cause Analysis

Investigate the source of heat in your system. Once you know where the heat is coming from, you can determine whether there’s a major system flaw or if it’s possible to engineer a solution that will remove the heat source.

If your heat source is some sort of entrained air, there are engineered solutions to remove bubbles from the hydraulic fluid. If there’s a system design flaw, use a separation technology to remove thermal degradation byproducts from your fluid. This provides a long-term stop-gap solution to the varnish formation until you can implement a system redesign.

More About Reliable Industrial Group

At RIG, we’ve served more than 400 companies nationwide and can help you get to the bottom of system issues with a range of equipment assessments, including:

We offer extensive varnish removal services and also carry a complete line of lubrication system accessories from filters, breathers and suction strainers to fill caps and site gauges.

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