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Barr Ellison Solicitors – commercial property
26 June, 2020 - 15:25 By Tony Quested

TWI innovation could help save oil and gas sector $463m

Leading players in the oil and gas industry, Cambridge’s TWI and DNV GL, have come together under the auspices of the Non-metallic Innovation Centre (NIC) to address the significant challenge of corrosion in downhole tubing and casing applications in the oil and gas industry. 

The play is a significant one: the annual cost of the downside in relation to tubing was estimated by NACE at $463 million in 2018, representing over 33 per cent of the total cost of corrosion in the oil and gas industry.

Fibre reinforced polymer pipes, however, offer an alternative solution because they are corrosion free and provide a number of benefits.

These include higher strength to weight ratio when compared to metallic pipes; smoother bore that reduces rig capacity requirements; and the potential to be spoolable making them easier to transport and install than metallic pipes. 

Also, the application of non-metallics can lead to cost savings due to reduced workflow and interventions, greater well integrity, improved safety levels and lower environmental risk.

Despite the tangible benefits of using composite materials, there is still a reluctance to use non-metallic tubing in casing in the oil and gas industry.

But, working together, TWI and DNV GL have identified that the main barrier to their application is the lack of rigorous design and qualification practices, which would serve to minimise the risk of pre-mature failure and provide operators with confidence in technology adoption.

Furthermore, adaptation of the failure envelope approach for steel pipes, as in standard API 5C2/C3 for non-metallic pipes, requires substantial effort and resource as it necessitates a large amount of full scale testing. This makes qualification of such products impractical, costly and time-consuming.

To address these challenges, the NIC has invested in the TWI–DNV GL collaboration that will see them jointly develop the first industry guidelines for the design and qualification of composite tubing and casing for downhole oil and gas applications. 

These will lead to a reduction in the amount of full scale testing required, providing a toolkit with which to optimise associated costs and engender a higher level of confidence in overall product performance.

The guidelines will utilise experience from across the value chain of composite pipes, and state-of-the-art design pyramid practices developed in DNV GL composite standards such as DNV GL-ST-C501 and DNVGL-ST-F119.
The design pyramid approach is a multi-scale modelling and testing scheme which includes testing at different scales and connecting them by models. It has been successfully developed and tried in DNV GL-ST-F119 for Thermoplastic Composite Pipes (TCP) in past years with multiple TCP products already fully qualified and in service.

The first phase of this Joint Industry Project (JIP) is due to start this summer and will include around 10 participants from the oil and gas value chain.

• DNV GL is an international accredited registrar and classification society headquartered in Norway.

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