Experts Gather to Discuss Coatings for Pipeline Protection

Pipeline operators are dependent on pipe coating integrity for fuel transport. Denis Melot of Total, Andre Koebsch of Petrobras, Mohamed Daoud of Abu Dhabi Co. for Onshore Oil Operations and John La Fontaine of ExxonMobil Development will be talking about their experience with pipe coatings at a conference organised by Applied Market Information: Pipeline Coating 2009 takes place 26-28 January at the Renaissance Hotel in Vienna, Austria. Professor Frank Cheng of the University of Calgary will describe some of the technical aspects of coating failure.

There is massive growth in pipeline construction, driven by changes in the patterns of energy supply and demand. The rising cost of energy provides companies and governments with both the incentive and the finances to fund ambitious new pipeline projects. According to Noru Tsalic of Applied Market Information, the steel pipe coating market achieved double digit annual growth rates between 2004 and 2007. The strongest regional growth will be felt in Asia, CIS and the Middle East, but the more mature markets of NAFTA and Europe continue to grow. Noavaran Baspar (Iran) has reviewed pipe coating practices and standards in the Middle East.

The traditional coating material was bitumen but this is being phased out and replaced with polymers such as layered polyolefins, Fusion Bonded Epoxy (FBE) and polyurethane. 3M and DuPont are key suppliers of FBE materials. Dow Hyperlast has expertise in polyurethane as insulation. Borealis has developed a new high performance polyethylene with improved mechanical properties and LyondellBasell Industries ha. Polyamides are also in use – Arkema’s bioplastic PA 11 is in use, and PA 12 is being supplied into this market by Evonik. Industrial Nanotech is testing nanotechnology in this field.

Coatings fulfil various functions, such as anti-corrosion protection, flow efficiency, thermal insulation, anti-buoyancy and mechanical protection. Pipeline coatings are constantly being improved. Coating material selection and high standards of coating technology are critical to the functional protection provided. Adhesion to the pipe substrate is vital with disbondment leading to localised corrosion and pipeline failure. Chemical, impact and abrasion resistance must match the environment and pipe handling procedures.

BrederoShaw and Shawcor have developed new anti-corrosion coatings systems for pipelines operating at high temperatures.

Quality control and high standards in pipe coating plants and during installation, all contribute to keeping pipelines fully operational. Nordson has equipment to improve efficiency of coating and Bandera Luigi Construzione Mecchaniche has new coating equipment to reduce the amount of thermoplastic utilised.

Coating integrity must be continuous through pipe joints. Field joint coating research is being carried out by operators (such as ExxonMobil Development Co.) and pipe coaters (for example, CANUSA-CPS and EUPEC). Specialist laboratories, such as Bodycote, are working on test methodology.

Pipeline Coating is a critical field for the oil and gas industry and it brings together pipeline operators, pipe coaters, researchers and suppliers to the industry

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