Energy Egypt held its first online webinar on September 24 to discuss the latest updates on the prevalent debate on  Spoolable Composite Pipeline (SCP) and Steel Pipelines (SP). The Webinar titled “The Economical Benefits of SCP vs Steel”, was organized by Energy Egypt and Shawcor, giving industry experts’ insight into the matter.

The webinar was moderated by Aidan McKay, General Manager of Energy Egypt. The esteemed speakers at the webinar were  Amr Tawfiq, Maintenance General Manager at Petradora & West Bakr; Marco Arams,  International Field Operations Manager at Shawcor Composite Solution; Khaled Marmour, Shawcor’s Regional Sales Manager; and Jonathan Gibson, VP for Business Development.

The application of these pipes can be found at oilfields and are used for: oil and gas gathering lines, water injection, and wastewater. Due to the inert layer of High Density Polyethylene (HDPE), the SCPs can handle all types of materials.

The webinar provided an insight into the undeniable benefits of SCP and how this technology is saving money and enhancing performance compared to SP. The four main areas of discussion were: product characteristics, reducing product ownership, the installation process, and cost benefits. The West Bakr case study helped to elucidate the clear benefits of Shawcor’s product.

Product Overview

Firstly, a composite material is defined as one that combines two different materials to make a new product with superior performance. In the case of SCP, HDPE in outer jackets are known to be inert, have good chemical resistance, high tolerance levels of hydrogen sulfide, and are flexible.

Khaled Mamour explained that the HDPE is combined with a reinforcement layer (usually aramid steel or fiberglass) to result in a pipe with superior performance with regards to handling temperature, pressure, and corrosive substances. These pipes are known as reinforced thermoplastic pipes (RTP) required to meet API-15S standard and generally require fewer connections than SP.

In terms of the SCP connections, there are two options: Hydraulic Compression (HC) and Manual Threaded Compression (MTC). Both fittings use corrosion-resistant fitted metal in conjunction with corrosion-resistant alloy.

Mamour stated that SPCs are most commonly used at oil fields in the form of gathering lines. However, their applicability is very diverse, and they can also be used for water and gas distribution, including fuel and gas lift lines and zero-flaring.

The Installation Process

According to Marco Armas, a SCP “can be installed 20-30% faster, which will save  money on the installation and reduce the time until first oil production.” Armas uses the example of a Shawcor project in Bolivia whereby an SP installation that would have taken six months was completed in just 40 days with the SCP technology.

An SCP installation can be achieved with less manpower and less equipment than an SP project. The example Armas gives is 1.8 km of 4” pipeline can be shipped on a single truck with only one excavator required for the installation. What’s more, the figures show that only 4 people are needed for the installation of an SCP compared to 10 for a SP flowline installation. Another two huge benefits for SCP installation is that X-Ray inspection is not required and the pipe can be brought to the surface without the use of steel risers.

There are myriad environments to deploy the pipeline, with Shawcor’s pipes present in the Arctic, deserts, wetlands, and even the jungle, showcasing their versatility.

Some of the most popular installation techniques include trenching, surface lines, and boring. All these methods are more environmentally friendly than the installation techniques of SP lines and help to reduce product ownership.

Project Cost Savings

Due to a smaller required workforce, less equipment, and a shorter installation period, the total project cost works out much lower than SP projects. To this extent, overall SCP project cost can be reduced by up to 20-25% in comparison to SP projects.

In terms of installation costs, they are found to be 30% lower due to smaller crew sizes, less equipment is used, and project deployment is significantly quicker. Although SCP may require a larger upfront investment, Armas insists that “once you consider the total project cost there are significant savings when using SCP.”

What’s more, the operating cost savings are significant due to the corrosion-resistant SCPs. Armas elaborated that this removes the requirement for corrosion inhibitors and furthermore there is no need for cathodic protection installation or maintenance. Empirical evidence suggests that for a 20 km gathering system, one saves between $20,000 – $40,000 on chemical costs annually (depending on the chemical type and batch frequency).

Liner Material Influence (LMI) also plays a crucial role in reducing operational expenditure (Opex). An HDPE liner has a smoother surface and a lower friction factor compared to steel. Armas attests “SCP is installed to provide increased resistance to the buildup of deposits such as paraffin waxes or scales on the pipe internal surface that can reduce flow and increase pressure drop.” As the SP corrodes, it is possible that between 50-100% of the pressure is lost. This does not occur with SCP.

Case Study

The West Bakr Oilfields, under the leadership of Amr Tawfiq, are an example of the successes of the SCP technology. Shawcor has three oil fields (K, M, and H), which started production in 1980.

The existing gathering network, which consisted of internally bare carbon steel, is poorly protected by corrosion inhibitor chemicals. As a result, the flowlines suffered from corrosion-induced failures such as spills and increased downtown caused by pipe repairs. Following a full failure analysis on corroded bare carbon steel, it was found that corrosion potential was high due to high levels of water exposure. As a result, the decision was taken to modernize and install new SCP flowlines.

The positive impact of the SCP installation has been evident for all to see: as of date, there have been no recorded direct environmental impacts with no further oil spills. This is another huge benefit of the SCP in that one can reduce product ownership cost and simultaneously protect the environment.

Economically speaking, there has been a positive cost impact after no more production losses and downtime. The project was completed within budget and project startup was completed within four months of the contract being signed. Empirical data shows that the project now saves $50,000 per year, representing a 30-40% decrease in project cost when compared to carbon SP.

Khaled Marmour summed up the webinar by saying: “Shawcor’s SCP is a very good solution for complete avoidance of corrosion and its impact on carbon SP. It is cost-efficient for installation, with less equipment and less manpower needed, no requirement for corrosion inhibitors, and can be re-used under certain conditions.” He added that Shawcor “has a background with major national oil companies, providing existing installation in Egypt with West Bakr, as well as being a trained and equipped installer in Egypt with local support from Energy Egypt and global support through Shawcor.”