OE13: Championing pipe-in-pipe technology

McDermott International’s director of global subsea engineering, Mark Dixon, made the case for pipe-in-pipe technology during yesterday morning’s presentation Emerging Technologies in the Subsea Sector.

While pipe-in-pipe is not a new technology, having been introduced nearly 20 years ago, many in the industry remain skeptical, he said.

“It has a great track record... it is seen as too new or too costly”, said Dixon. “It’s about creating value proposition. The value is enhanced lifecycle of the project.”

Pipe-in-pipe technology consists of a flowline in center with installation in annulus between pipe. Use of space age materials, Dixon said, which can be thin and compact, can minimise the size of the product.

“The ability to insulate pipes drops as you go deeper”, said Dixon. “Pipe-in-pipe becomes independent of water depth to achieve high performance, although it comes at a high cost.

“The materials are more expensive, along with a second pipe. You have to weld that up, it’s heavier. This is where cost increases come from, but you get performance benefits.”

Dixon said the number of projects have steadily increased, with 3-8 per year. Areas with the highest incidence of pipe-in-pipe are the North Sea and North America. Dixon said the Asian market was not as familiar with this type of technology.

In addition to advocating for pipe-in-pipe, Dixon argued for greater communication within the industry to safely introduce new technologies.

“If we can overcome skepticism, we can progress technology at an appropriate pace”, he said. “Communication needs to be open enough to see what’s coming down the line, without operators disclosing things they aren’t comfortable with.”

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