Top 10 Applications for Fabricated Metal in the Oil and Gas Industry

Custom-fitted metal elements create strength and safety throughout many industries, and they are particularly useful for meeting the demands of a heavy-duty business, such as oil and gas drilling and petrochemical processing and refinement. Operations typically continue 24 hours a day — and lose money if they don’t — so safety, function and efficiency must be constant priorities.

A number of different professionals within the oil and gas industry, as well as other industries, can benefit from a deeper knowledge about the possibilities of fabricated metal. These professionals include:

  • Company owners
  • Maintenance individuals and teams
  • Construction professionals
  • Architects
  • Engineers
  • Safety officers
  • Structural specialists


custom metal fabrication for oil and gas companies


The business path in the oil and gas industry often leads to new structures, additions or expansions, changes, safety upgrades and other situations that can leave us scratching our heads and wondering, “Now what can I do about that?” Everyone’s “that” is different, too, from customized stair treads and handrails to grating and walkways in all sizes, gauges and configurations.

MarCo Specialty Steel provides expert assistance in the field of customized, fabricated-metal products. While we serve many kinds of industries, oil and gas is near, dear and well-known since our company is based in Houston, Texas, a major oil hub and home to the world’s largest petrochemical-processing plant.

Options for design and fabrication are practically endless with steel, aluminum, carbon and fiberglass subjected to different cuts and processes to make any kind of thing needed, from standard pieces to challenging configurations that need to fit unusual spaces or applications. You can enhance operational safety with exactly the right kind of metal surface, as well as have structural integrity that stands up to the weather and all the elements of hard work found on a rig or in a refinery.

While the possibilities with custom-fabricated metal are virtually as unlimited as human imagination, oil and gas producers usually seek it for a few handfuls of reasons.

Application #1– Safety

Production, profit and efficient operations are always important in oil and gas drilling or processing, but safety issues at any point of the process can pose a serious threat to any of the business objectives. A fall from any part of an oil rig and most parts of a petrochemical-processing plant can be fatal or cause injury, and that alone makes it crucially important to have strong elements and superior traction that exceed safety standards and will not fail.


safety grating for oil refineries


The Occupational Safety and Health Administration as well as the International Finance Corporation-World Bank Group recommend many safety practices for risk management within the oil and gas industry:

  • Industrial-strength traction on elevated platforms and walkways, stairways and ramps
  • Floors and walkways made of non-skid materials
  • Handrails
  • Toe boards
  • Easy-to-clean structures
  • Surfaces that don’t allow hazardous material to stick and/or accumulate
  • Level floors and walkways
  • Non-conductive materials where needed.

Quality materials and excellent design rank as highly important, and so does extensive knowledge of the messy, sometimes safety-challenged work involved with oil and gas drilling and processing operations. Each facility differs in size and production, but they share the common characteristic of tough environments.

Platforms, rigging, walkways, stairs, fencing, barriers and gates all exist within conditions that usually include salty sea water, harsh chemicals, excess dirt, heights, constant exhaust gases, extreme heat or cold, high or low humidity and other caustic elements that all become a part of the safety equation. Custom-fabricated metals, carbon and fiberglass provide a broad range of options that respond to the safety demands of the industry.

Application #2– Variety of Choice

From stock panels and standard-fit sheets to ultra-customized and architectural pieces, expert custom fabrication brings you advantages in the number of choices available:

  • Steel – Galvanized, tempered, stainless and hot rolled are available in different gauges and strengths for diverse capability.
  • Carbon steel – It’s available in multiple finishes such as milled, hot-dip galvanized, powder-coat painted and others.
  • Aluminum alloy – This alloy can be dipped and treated for many applications.
  • Fiberglass – Commonly called fiberglass-reinforced plastic (FRP), it is especially adaptive to oil-refinery operations since it is non-corrosive and electrically non-conductive. The FRP specifically useful to the oil and gas industry is the Phenolic Type P.

Metals can be manipulated through perforation and expansion to provide a targeted characteristic or set of characteristics, such as lightweight strength, preferred texture and specific pattern. Metals can also be produced at different gauges, strengths and thicknesses to give you more control over any type of project, whether it’s a new build, routine replacement or an upgrade.


perforated and expanded metal for oil refineries


Application #3: Stair Treads for Oil Refineries

MarCo offers several choices for customized traction that are exclusive to our company:

  • Grate-Lock® has an interlocking system of bolted components to accommodate the people and rolling carts that zing back and forth on an oil or gas rig or in a processing plant. Grate-Lock® features a combination of large holes, perforated buttons and a non-directional grid pattern. Its ease of fit and use also mean it’s easy and fast to install, as well as versatile and somewhat movable.
  • Grip-Strut® stair treads feature diamond-shaped openings, each with a serrated edge to grip even in the most challenging of conditions. This type of safety grating is created with a cold-formed technique. Indoors and outdoors as well as in cold and hot, the product performs traction on stairs. Because of the small holes in the tread pattern, tools won’t fall through, either.
  • Perf-O-Grip® works great for stairs with large holes, perforated buttons and non-directional grid patterns that needs no banding. The large holes facilitate better drainage of water, snow and ice and can sometimes eliminate the need for a sprinkler system on the level below.
  • Traction-Tread® offers a surface made up of hundreds of small, rough-edged perforations in a variety of patterns. This tread holds up well over time without losing traction and can be adapted to several kinds of applications. From what is available in standard widths and gauges to custom choices, there are many kinds of super-traction stair treads for oil and gas applications inside, outside, big or small and that will stand up to weather and traffic conditions.

Application #4: Walkways for Oil Refineries

Nearly all of MarCo’s registered, proprietary metal designs that work for stair treads are also ideal materials for walkways and catwalks — other places where excellent traction is a must. Custom bar grating for oil refineries provides more options for walkways, with heavy-duty, riveted, welded-steel and press-locked types that provide excellent strength, aesthetics and long life.

Much like the stair-tread options, walkways and catwalks can be designed to weather storms, prevent falls, catch tools and bear the load over time of daily human and equipment traffic. Perforated and expanded metal comes both standard and custom in large sheets that work well for many catwalks and walkways.

Perforated metals can have opening shapes that are round, square or slotted, and expanded metals can be worked so they spread without losing strength. In fact, expanded metal can retain its form and rigidity while growing by 10 times and losing 80 percent of its original weight per square foot.

When it comes to walkways for an oil refinery, the range of perforated, serrated, holed and big-span metals available to do the job will deliver safety, traction and durability in whatever conditions you have.

Application #5: Fiberglass Grating for Oil Refineries

The corrosion-resistant and non-conductive properties of fiberglass-reinforced plastic (FRP) make it ideal for use in the oil and gas drilling and processing environments, where fire prevention and resistance are paramount to safety. A lead supplier in fiberglass grating, MarCo offers FRP created both by pultrusion and an open-molding process.

Open molding features a square or rectangular pattern for balanced strength throughout the structure. It has been around longer than pultrusion, and its types are F, O, P, V and 1. The process of pultrusion that creates fiberglass grating differs in that the materials are reinforced with resin and made into bars that form a grid pattern. Either type can be made with traction-aiding textures.

Application #6: Handrail Systems for Oil Refineries

Very few industries — including the petrochemical and oil and gas industries — can do without handrails in locations where the work involves climbing to something. In the oil and gas industry, nearly everything is suspended at considerable height.


safety walkways and catwalks


The beauty of customized, fabricated metal is that it can be made into the ideal length and thickness needed and outfitted with characteristics such as corrosion resistance, grip assistance or extra strength. Handrails and guardrails are required in just about any oil or gas drilling or processing operation, and where they are not required by law, they are recommended by safety experts, insurance agents and other professionals.

Application #7: Structural Soundness

Custom fabricated metal as well as fiberglass options cover many needs in the oil and gas industry. Different gauges, thicknesses and coatings can help resolve issues and concerns, and what works depends greatly on project specifics, such as where and how the items are to be used as well as the weather and other elements that will affect them.

MarCo for example, offers several thickness and length options for heavy-duty bar grating:

  • Standards widths of two, three and four feet
  • Bar thicknesses of 1/4-, 5/16- and 3/8-inch
  • Bar depth ranging from one inch to eight inches

Our safety-grating products include a range of choices:

  • 11-, 12-, 13- and 14-gauge hot-rolled steel
  • 11-, 12-, 13- and 14-gauge pre-galvanized steel
  • 16-gauge stainless steel
  • Aluminum alloy of 0.125 thickness

These are just a few of the possibilities for building the quality structures needed for projects in the oil and gas industry. We encourage anyone with questions about their company’s application to contact us for answers and solutions.

Application #8: Versatile Metal Mesh

The configuration and placement of oil refineries and drilling operations demand spaces where people and things will stay secure. Things in that environment need to stay in place — not slip, slide or fall — and wire mesh can help prevent such mishaps.

Metal mesh can act as a strong screen, barrier and catchall, for a few examples, but a client’s needs and imagination usually determine how it will be used. Many types of metal mesh, which you might also hear called wire cloth or fabric, can help achieve the goal of securing small and large areas where people work and gather or where equipment is stored.

Most metal mesh resembles a big sheet made from small pieces of metal placed at angles throughout the sheet to form an ultra-strong symmetrical pattern. Wire mesh is either woven or welded, and woven fabric usually costs more because the crimping process used to create it is more labor intensive than welding the metal. Those responsible for solutions at their operation appreciate the flexible nature of metal mesh and the fact that it offers such versatility.

Metal fabric can be made from nearly all common metals:

  • Aluminum
  • Copper
  • Molybdenum
  • Nickel
  • Stainless steel

You can also obtain the multi-use wire mesh in different sizes, counts and weaves. The mesh-hole diameter can range from millionths of an inch to several, whole inches, and the count of wires in the mesh is expressed in wires per lineal foot. A high-count mesh features small holes while low-count mesh would have bigger holes, and the weave can be one of many choices.

Application #9: Gates, Restraints

One walk through the crazy configuration of catwalks on an oil rig or at a processing plant confirms the need for good gates to properly route as well as restrict people and things. Wherever the path needs to stop or change direction, a strong, metal gate tends to do the job.

Gates made of customized, fabricated metal will fit nearly any configuration and preference. Whether you want a heavy-gauge, high-security gate with a tough steel border to close off restricted areas or a small, light, swinging gate for high-traffic areas, it can be created to custom specifications.


custom metal grating for oil and gas companies


Application #10: Creative Solutions

It’s impossible to list all the potential designs and projects that can be achieved with fabricated metal and all its facets. It is fair to say they are broad, diverse and respond to a full range of needs within oil-and-gas companies, as well as many other industries. From the catwalks, platforms, stairs and other elements found in a plant to many specialized projects, you can have metal and fiberglass manipulated to your business’ advantage.

Partner With Excellence

On a regular basis, MarCo Specialty Steel solves the design dilemmas and construction conundrums that arise as clients erect new buildings, expand, upgrade and make safety-improvement changes. We understand the language and projects of architects, engineers, general contractors, buyers and owners in the oil and gas industry.

We specialize in creating custom-fabricated metal solutions and make it all at an on-site production facility. While you won’t see MarCo’s prices among the ultra-low providers, you will find excellent skills and high-quality materials coupled with outstanding service and responsiveness. After gathering all the information needed for a thorough project assessment, MarCo generates a custom quote for each project.

As with the oil and gas production and refinery industry, we’re also pleased to help clients in aerospace, mining, drilling, power generation and heavy equipment. With 25 years of experience specific to custom metal fabrication, you can count on us to provide reliable information and suggestions for your projects as well as superior metal products. Contact us today.

MarCo Specialty Steel. Quality. Speed. Reliability.