Landscape photograph of the silhouette of an oil and gas operation location

Fracking Good: High-Performance Mesabi® Radiators Power American Oil and Gas Industry

Battling high vibration, extreme environments, size restrictions, and more, Mesabi® radiators come out on top, time and time again, supporting the oil and gas industry with high performance and consistent reliability to optimize oil and gas drilling sites throughout oil and gas country.

To say the American oil and gas industry is anything less than essential to the U.S. and global economy would be an understatement. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the United States maintained the lead position as the world’s top crude oil producer between 2018 and 2021. Texas, New Mexico, and North Dakota lead the country’s top shares of oil production at 42.4%, 11.1%, and 9.9% total shares, respectively.

A shaded map of the U.S. crude oil production by state in 2021
Map: U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Whether extracted through traditional drilling or hydraulic fracturing (or “fracking”), people and organizations worldwide rely on oil and gas to heat their homes and buildings, fuel vehicles for travel and to transport goods, and to manufacture goods for personal and business use.

To extract these economy-driving resources, drilling and fracking equipment face intense vibration and shock as they burrow miles under the earth’s surface to, quite literally, unearth the oil and gas deposits below. This is not a task for run-of-the-mill equipment.

Yet, the deep integration of oil and gas into the daily lives of global citizens means that, no matter how difficult it may be, success is non-negotiable. That’s where Mesabi radiators come in.

Genuine Mesabi radiators are built strong to withstand the rough and tough conditions of America’s oil fields. Facing extreme vibration, sound restrictions, incredible amounts of dirt and debris, high-performance Mesabi radiators prevail against all odds.

“Performance is a big deal and one of the main concerns on oil and gas job sites,” said Brian Pierzina, Design and Applications Engineer at L&M Radiator, the manufacturer of the world-renowned Mesabi radiators. “Many of our customers come to us saying that they have to replace their radiators after four to six years in the field. This is incredibly costly. With Mesabi radiators, you can expect your radiator to outlast the lifespan of your equipment – and often times, several engines.”

Optimizing Drill Rig Operations

Mesabi radiators can be found powering drilling rigs across the country. These rigs travel from site to site, drilling as far as two miles underneath the earth’s surface. At this stage, mud pumps turn the drill bit on the drill string to pump approximately 500 gallons of oil per minute through the pumps (This number may vary depending on location) while the rig’s engine powers the drill head. Depending on the rig, it is common to drill between 30 to 90 feet at a time.

Landscape photograph of an oil and gas rig operation
Photo: Oil drill rigging operation.

“What happens is, the drill head turns at a certain RPM and then you put force on it, pushing the drill head down,” said Pierzina. “As you get farther down, you need more energy to pull it back up. Once you’re down at 20,000 feet, you have to pull hundreds of thousands of pounds of pipe upwards again.”

“The rigs themselves are typically set up with three to five engines, the most popular engine being a 1,476 hp Caterpillar (CAT) 3512 engine,” said Pierzina. “Those engines are the life of the rig. They are responsible for powering every piece of equipment on the rig.”

If the engine is the life of the rig, a Mesabi radiator are its lungs. Offering industry-leading durability, Mesabi radiators help minimize downtime due to maintenance and repairs. Even better yet, because Mesabi radiators are built to outlast the life of several engines, they are more cost-effective than a conventional OEM radiator in the long run.

“Downtime and maintenance are some of our biggest considerations,” said Pierzina. “One of the strengths of a Mesabi radiator is we don’t expect our radiators to fail from operation. Even if damage occurs, our radiators are designed to be easily and swiftly repaired in the field. You simply replace the damaged tubes and keep operating.”

For on-shore oil and gas drilling and fracking operations, Pierzina and Mitchell typically recommend a standard copper M-Tube radiator for stationary drilling applications or a copper V-Tube™ radiator for equipment that is especially susceptible to clogging due to dirt and debris.

Landscape photograph of the silhouette of an oil and gas operation location
Photo: Fracking field.

Fracking at its Best: The Power of Mesabi

Hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking” is hard work, but it goes a long way. According to the American Petroleum Institute (API), fracking accounts for two-thirds of total U.S. natural gas production and 50% of U.S. crude oil production.

A map demonstrating the location of shale oil and gas wells across the United States, many of which rely on fracking as a method of extraction.
Map: Post Carbon Institute. This map demonstrates the location of shale oil and gas wells across the United States, many of which rely on fracking as a method of extraction.

In fracking hotspots such as Texas, North Dakota, Louisiana, Arkansas, or Oklahoma, a typical fracking fleet consists of 14 to 20 frack trucks and multiple auxiliary pieces of equipment to sustain the trucks. This equipment is used to drill a wellbore (a hole) and insert a casing to line the well to prevent groundwater contamination.

From there, the operation pumps a sand slurry into the well under high pressure. This fractures the shale rock and sandstone beneath the earth such that oil flows out, now available for collection.

With this hard work comes a certain set of obstacles. For example, frack fleets are not stationary. They frequently move from site to site going down rough roads in harsh environments.

A truck on site of an oil and gas operations location
Photo: Oil drilling rig operation.

“You need equipment that can withstand essentially going down the worst dirt road you’ve ever been on that hasn’t been maintained in 20 years, that’s what these pieces of equipment are going down,” said Pierzina. “They need to be able to withstand pretty rough duty going to and from the job sites. And they are doing this regularly.”

According to Pierzina, though movement varies based on the company and the site, fleets often move anywhere from 20 to 30 miles in any given month. These massive pieces of equipment are taken apart and reassembled as they move from job to job.

To optimize equipment for fracking, such as fracking trucks, blenders, generator sets and more, L&M Radiator provides the Cube™ Cooling System. This cooler is typically placed on an engine skid, so transport is made easy by unbolting the engine skid and placing it on a trailer. In addition, this radiator is easily customizable to meet the road weight, height and width limitations on a trailer going down a road and can be made to operate more quietly in the instance that a fracking site is near a city or town.

Mesabi Cube Cooling System
Photo: Mesabi Cube Cooling System.



“Like all of our other products, the Cube™ Cooling System lasts multiple engine lives,” said Joshua Mitchell, Application Engineer at L&M Radiator. “Our shock-absorbing rubber seals all but eliminate equipment failure due to vibration, and if damage does occur, our tubes are made to be easily replaceable in the field. They are also incredibly easy to maintain given that the tubes can be easily cleaned using high-pressure air or water.”

In 2016, the Cube™ radiator went through a complete redesign. Recognizing the demand for a more cost-effective radiator while maintaining the high standards of quality that Mesabi heat exchangers are known for, L&M Radiator engineers improved the efficiency of the radiator’s design such that the cost of the radiator dropped by approximately 35% while the high quality of the original design remained intact.

But this isn’t the only reason why Mesabi is such a prominent figure in the industry.

“As much as our clients appreciate our standard of quality and durability, it is also our approachability and ability to work with them on coming up with custom solutions that set us apart,” said Pierzina. “Our customizability and ability to design to fit the customer’s needs is a point of pride for us. Whether you require an entirely new design or seek to upgrade an old application, we have your back.”

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