By Fabio Palmigiani in Rio de Janeiro
25 October 2016 22:32 GMT
The hybrid composite flexible riser will weigh up to 30% less than conventional pipes, also allowing for operation in water depths greater than 3000 metres and in environments such as the Brazilian pre-salt play.
“We started developing this new technology five years ago and we are currently concluding weight, field and operational tests,” said GE Oil & Gas’ chief executive for Latin America, Rogerio Mendonca.
The technology will replace a layer of steel with a lighter-weight carbon fibre thermoplastic material, but keeping the steel carcass of traditional pipes.
According to Mendonca, the new flexible riser will offer savings of approximately 20% in the total installation cost.
GE Oil & Gas has already started the qualification process with Petrobras for application of this new technology at future pre-salt developments. The company invested $20 million in the construction of a subsea laboratory specifically for developing the composite.
The company is producing 10-inch diameter pipes for qualification and test purposes. Commercial manufacturing is expected to begin in 2018, first at the company’s plant in Newcastle and later at the Niteroi facility in Rio de Janeiro state.
“We are already preparing our Niteroi facility to produce this new product,” said Mendonca, adding that GE Oil & Gas recently spent $200 million to expand the plant’s capacity, currently sitting at 310 kilometres of pipe per year.
Mendonca believes Brazil can become a hub to export products to other countries in Latin America, and sees Mexico, Colombia and Argentina as promising markets.
“GE Oil & Gas is well structured in Latin America. Over the past few years, we have increased our manufacturing capacity in Brazil, so becoming an export hub is a possibility,” he said.
“Latin America is at a boiling point, with several countries going through a similar restructuring moment as Brazil, and opportunities are there for the taking.”