Pre-salt: the Technology Challenges Facing the Pipelines Sector
By CTDUT Staff.
In the pipelines segment, the technology challenges facing oil and gas companies producing from pre-salt reservoirs are directly related to the conditions found in water depths exceeding 2000 meters. For instance, such challenging environments require high thermal insulation coatings capable of lowering the temperature of produced oil without significantly increasing the weight and costs of risers. Another challenge is the presence of aggressive fluids, sulphur dioxide, CO2, high salinity water, which, in combination with oil and gas, causes severe wear and corrosion in currently available risers and pipelines.
Moreover, the flow from the production platform to land, whenever the option is through pipeline, brings the challenge of constructing pipelines which will have to be set down at water depths exceeding 2000 meters and across distances over 200 km.
"In a segment that requires production units to have a working life exceeding 20 years, the use of new materials or innovating known products such as the use of carbon fibre in risers with internal diameter above 8 inches is fundamental for the integrity and long life of the installations. This allows the safe production and the injection of CO2 or other fluids at a reasonable cost," explains Raimar van den Bylaardt, President of the Executive Board of the Pipeline Technology Center – CTDUT.
A technology center dedicated to the development of the pipeline sector, CTDUT has participated in research related to the thermal insulation of risers, in a partnership with PUC – Rio, and, at the moment is considering the construction of new laboratories and the upgrade of some of its facilities for attending the demands of the pipeline community faced to the presalt challenges.
"We are prepared for future opportunities, which will come up with the pre-salt," he says. "We have technology, expertise, teaching and research entities, and companies supplying goods and services which have the conditions to meet this challenge," he concludes.
Production increase will require greater transportation and distribution systems
Brazil is experiencing an important moment, of great expectations. With the presalt, the country is no more a spectator in the global oil industry scenario. "This is a moment of changes and big challenges. The increase of the production of oil and gas will require greater transportation and distribution systems. Presently, with the inauguration of the Rio de Janeiro-Belo Horizonte gas pipeline, Gasbell II, we depend on a network with 22 thousand kilometres of pipelines in operation. This number may grow, taking into account that we will reach the level of approximately 3.9 million barrels per day in 2020," says Raimar.
According to the executive, despite the fact that Brazil is 16th in the world ranking of pipeline networks, the extension of the national pipeline network is still small if we take into account the massive production of the oil and mining sectors, which are the main drivers for this kind of transportation. The European Union, which has a territorial extension smaller than that of Brazil, operates with 800 thousand kilometres of pipelines.
"The pipeline is a products transportation system which is economic, safe and low pollution. The growth of the network will require more and more complex technologies for an efficient and risk free operation, broadening the opportunities and stimulating the companies in the segment," he states.
CTDUT is to start up, in 2011, a pilot unit for cathodic protection tests
CTDUT will start up, by the first half of 2011, a pilot unit for Cathodic Protection Tests, Research and Evaluation of Anticorrosion Coatings for Pipelines in the country.
The Pilot Unit is being constructed in an approximately 1000 m2 area and will allow the conduction of tests and simulations of field conditions, through the installation of buried pipelines, lined with different types of anticorrosive coatings, protected by a cathodic protection system made out of rectifiers, anode beds and test points.
Budgeted at R$3,5 million, the facility became viable upon the signing, in October 2009, of a cooperation agreement with Petrobras, that will assume the costs of the unit by using the budget of the R&D (Research and Development) Investments Clause provided at the concession contracts.
External corrosion is one of the causes of leakages in buried or submersed pipelines. The protection of the structures against the corrosive process is presently made by the combination of the uses of Mechanical Coatings and Cathodic Protection Systems.
"With this structure we will be able to simulate technical conditions pretty close to those in the field, making it possible to test new technologies and new practices, besides the study of existing technology in order to better understand potential problems and their solutions," explains Mauro Barreto, vice-President of CTDUT and member of the Brazilian Corrosion Association (ABRACO).
The main objective of the facility is to give support to R&D projects of companies, universities and technology centers. "The field of application of this technology is very wide, comprising from transportation companies and distributors to companies which have buried or maritime pipelines, besides the ones that offer services and equipment for cathodic protection," considers Barreto.
On top of that, the facility will fully comply with the requirements of NBR 43:000.03-001Standard (Criteria for the qualification and certification of cathodic protection professionals) from ABNT/CB-43 – Brazilian Corrosion Committee, being, therefore, fundamental for the adequate training of people to work in this area.
Another initiative involving the pre salt was the creation, in August 2010, of the Valves Competence Network.
The Network goal is to allow the valve manufacture to conform to the Technical Standard NBR 15827:2007 – Regulations for the Evaluation of Conformity of Industrial Valves for Installations for Exploring, Production, Refining and Transportation of Oil Products. "The idea is that the network becomes a space CTDUT Brazil Oil & Gas Issue 17 19 for the discussion of a laboratory infrastructure for the pre salt," says Raimar van den Bylaardt. Participants in the Network, besides CTDUT, are the Federal University of Paraná (UFPR), the Federal University of Alagoas (UFAL), the Brazilian Association of the Machinery and Equipment Industry (ABIMAQ), the Research and Technology Development Institute of the Machinery and Equipment Industry (IPDMAQ), the Technology Research Institute (IPT), the Brazilian Oil, Gas and Biofuels Institute (IBP), National Institute of Technology (INT) and COPPE/UFRJ.
A technology center oriented to the development of the pipelines segment, CTDUT has real scale installations and research laboratories for testing products, equipment and systems used at the pipelines network. The infrastructure offers technical and economic advantages both for the suppliers and the operators, which can, for instance, test new technologies without risks to their operations.
Among the products and services offered are pig tests, pipeline integrity, flow meters and leakage detector tests, coatings, pumps and valves tests, which make CTDUT a valuable facility also for demonstrations, training and professional qualification.
Inaugurated in May 2006, CTDUT was born through the initiative of Petrobras, Transpetro and Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio). The Center counts on an impressive number of members, including companies, entities, universities and teaching and research institutions. Its facilities were built with resources from the Oil and Gas Sector Fund (CTPetro), allied to the Ministry of Science and Technology (MCT) through the Study and Projects Financer (FINEP).
For more information, contact Helena de Aguilar, Pipeline Technology Center – CTDUT,