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R&D in pipeline coating

Oilfield Technology,

Pipelines are being developed worldwide to meet the rising demands for energy, and pipeline integrity is being studied to reduce loss in transmission and to handle increasingly hostile environments.

AMI global technology conference

Vienna is the setting for the second AMI global technology conference, Pipeline Coating 2010, which takes place in February. There are market studies including an overview from Noru Tsalic at AMI and a specialist paper from Tial on Russia and the CIS. From cement composites to FBE, self-healing polymers and layered polyolefins, new coating materials have been produced and are undergoing extensive trials in the laboratory and in field testing. ExxonMobil has reviewed the procedure for pipe coating selection based on current trends. The pipe coating companies are undertaking much of the new research. Salzgitter-Mannesmann Forschung is looking at alternative adhesion promoters with Europipe and Mülheim Pipecoatings, while Tuboscope/Vetco has been testing polymeric coatings for wet sour gas applications.

New advances

Pipeline in rough terrain, like blasted out rock trenches, requires additional protection: a thin layer of fibre-reinforced Engineered Cementitious Composite (ECC) material has been developed by Li, Fischer, Lepech & Associates, a group of researchers. It maintains bendability whilst providing mechanical protection. The SouthWest Research Institute has developed a diamond-like carbon (DLC) coating for the inner surface of pipes for wear, erosion and corrosion protection. New fusion bonded epoxy (FBE) materials have been developed by Dow Coating Materials and Akzo Nobel Powder Coatings, while Arkema has tested the limits of new HDPE/adhesives.

CANUSA-CPS has carried out a study of field joint coating methods and materials worldwide. Girth weld internal coatings have been tested in the Ubarana water injection pipeline by Petrobras. A new polymeric network coating (PNC) has been developed by 3M to improve offshore joint integrity: it adheres to FBE without the need for a polyolefin adhesive. Dow Hyperlast has made advances in glass syntactic polyurethane (GSPU) on site coating mixing machinery.

Offshore pipe coatings

Offshore pipe coatings are the hot topic this year. Bredero Shaw has developed a novel thermal insulation system for bonded single pipes in subsea deepwater environments. Experience from operation and long term testing of the thermal insulation of the flowlines on the Kristin high pressure high temperature (HPHT) field will be outlined by Statoil. Subsea polypropylene multilayer coatings are used in insulation and corrosion protection: Borealis has reviewed the different PP materials in use in locations such as BP Thunderhorse, Blindfaith, Kizomba, offshore West Africa and Petrobras Hybrid. Stopaq has worked with BASF on a new cost-effective poly-isobutene elastomeric subsea coating. Integrity testing is a regular issue for pipeline operators. Petrobras has studied the effect of the coating holiday diameter on the cathodic disbondment test. A review of ageing of coating materials has been undertaken by Berry Plastics.

Pushing forward

The pipeline industry is continuing to push forward, as governments move to secure additional supplies of increasingly scarce resources from more remote regions. Pipeline operators are working in harsh conditions to complete new transmission and distribution networks. Lessons learnt from across the globe can prevent unnecessary failures and lead to improved long-term durability and meet the extreme performance demands. Research will be presented at Pipeline Coating 2010 from all branches of the industry from operators to test laboratories.

Author: Dr Sally Humphreys. On behalf of AMI (Pipeline Coating 2010)

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