The Monitor

Production Process Insights

How oil & gas refineries can improve sampling accuracy

Posted by Israel Gamboa on 7/13/16 9:10 AM
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Ideally, sampling in an oil and gas refinery should be easy for engineers to design and implement, safe for operators, and provide exactly what’s needed at the lab for quality assurance testing.

Standard manual sampling procedures, however, rarely meet these three criteria with consistency. Engineers face time and budget challenges. Operators are exposed to potentially harmful chemicals during spigot bucket sampling or open-air bottle sampling. The quality assurance lab receives liquid or gas samples that may lead to misguided operational decisions based on results that are skewed and unreliable. Inaccurate sample analysis presents considerable risk for the refinery.

These scenarios may sound familiar, and are likely playing out in your operation. You need to test for quality control using reliable samples; that’s a non-negotiable. But, is there a better way? Applying a representative sampling method with the right sampling equipment ensures your process samples are repeatable and reliable, every time.


When samples are not available for use in the lab, engineers are often required to be reactive versus proactive in providing a sample for the lab. This time crunch forces them to seek solutions that are effective in the moment, but are rarely the best long-term solution.

Using representative sampling equipment specifically designed for refineries, on the other hand, helps engineers implement sound practices from the outset, minimizing any quality assurance concerns. In the unlikely event a quality issue arises when samplers are used, engineers aren’t scrambling for resolution. They can troubleshoot the source of sample irregularity starting at the specific piece of sampling equipment.


Refinery operators can be exposed to a variety of harsh and potentially dangerous volatile gases and chemicals on a daily basis, especially when they use an open-air bottle or bucket sampling method where the risk for incidental splashing, volatile vapor inhalation and spills is extremely high.

Manual low-emission samplers take operators out of harm’s way, isolating them from contact with high pressures, temperatures and volatile gases to maintain their safety. Likewise, removing the operator from the sampling method also means maintaining sample integrity by preventing unintentional human contamination.


It is essential that during sampling, products are not contaminated by handling and are a current representation of the process stream from which they are captured. Samples generally are used to ensure that products are being made according to specification standards, and to monitor their process and the condition of their equipment.

Using representative sampling equipment, as opposed to using an open-air bottle or bucket sampling, is the one way to guarantee accuracy. Labs are assured of a true “snapshot” of what’s happening in the refinery and can gather relevant data with confidence.

Oil and gas refineries need to maintain seamless and safe operations, and that means partnering with representative sampling experts that provide full solutions and reliable products that can withstand the rigors of refinery environments.

The Sentry® brand of automatic and manual low-emission samplers is ideal for liquids and gases, including our Sentry ISOLOK® API sampling suite specifically designed for hydrocarbon liquid applications – all thoroughly tested to perform consistently and repeatedly in oil and gas applications.

Read more in The Beginner’s Guide to Representative Sampling. Download your free copy now by clicking the button below.

Sentry's Industrial Representative Sampling eBook

Topics: Downstream, Upstream & Midstream

Written by Israel Gamboa

Picture of Israel Gamboa
As a Regional Sales Manager, Israel Gamboa applies his expertise in oil refinery, food & beverage, petro chemical & chemical and power generation markets for customers in California and Canada. In his 10 years of Sentry experience, he’s served in Electromechanical Assembly, Field Service, Applications Engineering, Manufacturing Engineering and Outside Sales. Two highlights have been working with the oil sands industry for automatic sampling and with various oil refineries in North America for manual sampling. Gamboa believes in making his customer’s job easy by listening to their wants and needs and providing a sampling solution that exceeds their expectations.