May 2021, Vol. 248, No. 5

Tech Notes

Overcoming Flexible Pipe Challenges of Pre-Salt Subsea Developments

Special to P&GJ 

Baker Hughes said it reached a technology milestone by finding a way to overcome flexible pipe stress corrosion cracking (SCC) tendencies in high carbon dioxide (CO2) content fields, such as those found in Brazil’s pre-salt offshore developments.  

The inspection, verification and assurance body, Lloyd’s Register, issued the company a design appraisal document (DAD) certification, validating its flexible pipe testing program and results.   

This follows an extensive three-year testing campaign by Baker Hughes – featuring more than 120 test setups, methodologies and characterizations, including dissection of pipes recovered from field operations. It marks a step toward a viable flexible pipe solution for the most demanding high-CO2 offshore fields.   

The certification verifies that on top of the standard 25- to 30-year equipment service life, Baker Hughes can extend a flexible pipe’s contracted service life by at least 50%, with the potential of 2.5 times life extension.  

In 2017, the Brazil National Petroleum Agency issued a failure mode alert when it first identified that flexible pipes used in high-pressure, high-CO2 content fields caused broken tensile armor wires on a flexible pipe installation with potential environmental impacts and production losses. The DAD offers a path forward for the growth of flexible pipes to meet the safety and regulatory requirements in the oil and gas industry.  

“As an energy industry, we must constantly share lessons learned to ensure safe, reliable and environmentally sound operations,” said Domenico Di Giambattista, vice president for flexible pipe systems at Baker Hughes.   

He said that while the SCC-CO2 phenomenon was not something the company experienced with its flexible pipes. 

The DAD confirms that the combination of advanced materials and manufacturing processes produces a flexible pipe that can withstand the most severe operating conditions while still retaining advantages, including flexibility in field layout, simplified FPSO balcony configuration and reduced time to first oil.   

Moving forward, all flexible pipes installed by Baker Hughes in Brazil will be covered by the DAD and offer operators extended operating life before replacement. The DAD enables assessment of predictability of the integrity of flexible pipes operating for several years.  

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