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Tackling pipeline challenges in the oil and gas industry


SoluForce, a Flexible Composite Pipes (FCP, also known as Reinforced Thermoplastic Pipes or RTP) solutions provider, discusses the challenges faced by oil and gas pipeline operators, the advantages of using its FCP products and more in the latest interview with Oil Review Middle East

What are the main benefits and advantages of your FCP products for the oil and gas industry?

Being non-metallic, our FCP system is fully corrosion-and scaling-free. During their lifetime, our SoluForce FCP does not require any maintenance, resulting in minimal OPEX. Our service solution further includes a non-metallic fitting system, to ensure that the complete pipeline, from start-point to end-point, is free from corrosion scaling and maintenance.

Due to the way we package our coils, they are very easy to handle in the field resulting in quick and easy installation. Our FCP can be uncoiled anywhere; no need for minimum site clearance, our pipes will squeeze through and fit in almost any gap.

Moreover, the fittings are installed through a completely automated and traceable process, using lightweight and easy to operate equipment. Fittings are available in multiple (customer specified) alloys and ratings.

The SoluForce pipeline is completely flexible, meaning they can go up hills, down slopes, round corners, across gullies, and underwater with ease. The SoluForce FCP system does not require any supporting infrastructure like sleeper supports, which are generally required for steel pipelines. They can be directly installed on the surface, or they can be buried in a trench.

What are the main challenges faced by oil and gas pipeline operators in the Middle East, and how are your products helping to address them?

Ageing pipelines are a huge risk as the assurance of reliable output is vital to oil and gas pipeline operators. With the increasing risk of spills, most conventional steel pipelines require regular maintenance to extend their lifetime. It makes sense to replace them with a solution that does not require any maintenance and that has proven to be extremely reliable in a variety of (harsh) environments.

Making existing or new marginal fields economically viable is a huge challenge. Enhanced oil recovery (EOR) involves highly corrosive fluids, causing conventional pipelines to have constant maintenance and corrosion inhibitors. SoluForce FCP is different… SoluForce provides solutions with minimal OPEX, so it becomes an easy win-win opportunity. With our solutions, oil and gas companies are able to operate new and existing oil and gas fields significantly more efficient. Moreover, with our flexibility and short lead-times, our customers can respond quickly to requirements and developments in their fields.

How do you view the Middle East market for your FCP products, and how are you hoping to develop your business in the region?

SoluForce was the first company to develop FCP back in 1998, and we were also the first FCP to be installed in the Middle East in 2000. These FCP are still operational to this day, without any issues. This has allowed us to be at the forefront of FCP developments in the region. It has been very interesting to see the developments throughout the years, in which we have continued to supply the region and built long-term relationships.

Each year billions of dollars are invested in pipelines in the Middle East, but the majority of these investments are literally corroding away. Luckily, we notice that more and more oil and gas companies use non-metallic innovative solutions as part of their strategy program and become aware of the benefits of FCP and the impact they can have on their operations.

As the originator of FCP, SoluForce has always strived to be the leader in FCP developments and innovations. This has led to various innovations like the industries only true Gas Tight FCP (SoluForce GT) and High-Temperature FCP solution with design temperatures of 105°C / 225°F (SoluForce HT).

With a number of innovations to come, we are continuing to evolve our FCP markets and products, which will enable us to continue to develop and cement our business in the region.

Are there any current or recent oil and gas pipeline projects/contracts you are working on in the region which would like to highlight?

Throughout the Middle East, we are working with various major local oil and gas companies. SoluForce FCP is used in a variety of applications. With a lot of our projects, enhanced oil recovery has a major impact on the pipeline infrastructure. Companies are incurring higher costs due to corrosion and maintenance issues.

Recently we were involved in a project where the carbon steel pipes used for water injection had a lifetime of only 2 to 5 years due to corrosion issues. By using SoluForce FCP, this customer now has a pipeline with a significantly longer lifetime without corrosion or maintenance. Resulting in considerable OPEX reductions.

What importance do you attach to servicing and support?

Our aim is to help companies reduce their costs and make their operation safe, durable and more efficient. In addition to our FCP solutions, service and support play a major role.

With our committed and knowledgeable team combined with a high level of service, SoluForce really does distinguish itself in the market. Because of this, all of our customers eventually come back to us. This allowed us to deliver over 3.500km of maintenance free FCP word-wide in various applications and environments since the year 2000.

Through the SoluForce Academy, we train and support our customers’ (local) staff by improving their knowledge and experience. The SoluForce Academy allows for safe and consistent installation and operation of SoluForce systems. As a global community of certified SoluForce installers, operators, engineers, inspectors and end-users, it functions as a knowledge sharing platform with access to a large knowledge base about SoluForce FCP.

What is the role played by technology and innovation in tackling pipeline challenges and issues? How do you think pipeline technology might develop in the future?

As a matter of fact, SoluForce is a technology that resulted from tackling pipeline challenges and issues. Back in 1998, Shell and AkzoNobel (now Teijin) were developing a pipeline solution to solve the corrosion issues Shell was experiencing in their oil and gas fields. These companies were looking for someone that could produce long-lengths of this new pipe, so they approached our parent company (Pipelife). An R&D project was started, resulting in the first SoluForce FCP solution. In the years after, the SoluForce product portfolio was expanded to offer solutions for low to extremely high pressures and for gas and high-temperature operations.

SoluForce continues its strong focus on innovation and technical developments. In the near future, this will lead to new products, solutions and applications using and combining new materials and advanced technologies.