Photo: Courtesy: Baker Hughes

Baker Hughes solving pre-salt challenges for flexible pipe systems

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

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

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

The certification verifies that on top of the standard 25-30-year equipment service life, Baker Hughes can extend flexible pipes contracted service life by at least 50 per cent, with the potential of 2.5x life extension.

In 2017, the Brazil National Petroleum Agency issued a failure mode alert when it first identified 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. Baker Hughes applied its technology expertise to pioneer a solution to solve this challenge,” said Domenico Di Giambattista, vice president for flexible pipe systems at Baker Hughes. “While the SCC-CO2 phenomenon was not something we experienced with our flexible pipes, it threatened the viability of certain offshore fields that require flexible pipe for development. This certification is an important step as we invest for growth to fully deploy flexible pipe systems in tough offshore environments.”

The DAD confirms that this flexible pipe 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 installed flexible pipes by Baker Hughes in Brazil will be covered by the DAD and offer operators extended operating life before replacement. In addition, the DAD enables Baker Hughes to assess and predict the integrity of flexible pipes operating for several years.