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Analysis

Chemical Compounds for Deepwater Pipelines

Tue, 01/22/2013 - 17:52

Although historically Arkema has worked predominantly on downstream projects in Mexico, the French chemical company also has a number of products and solutions for the upstream oil and gas industry in its portfolio. As Manuel García, General Manager of Arkema Mexico explains, now that Pemex is ready to move on to more challenging projects, Arkema’s upstream portfolio has grown in relevance in the Mexican context: “Now that the era of easy oil is over for Pemex, and the company is moving to more demanding reservoirs, such as those in deepwater, there is an opportunity for us to grow our upstream business.” In recent years, Arkema has focused on deepwater solutions, working closely with Petrobras in Brazil to make the process of producing oil in deepwater less challenging for operators.

“We have looked at deepwater from the point of view of the complete production infrastructure. Deepwater wells are being drilled today at water depths of 3km and more, and Arkema has been working to develop chemical products to make that whole process easier for operators.” García goes on to detail exactly what this involves, from working with the chemical structure of the construction materials for deepwater platforms in order to make them more resistant to the conditions experienced at sea, to developing special grades of pipeline that can withstand the temperatures

and pressures encountered at extreme water depths. “The problem with developing deepwater pipelines is that they need to be able to endure intense temperatures and high pressures, while at the same time they must be flexible enough in order to cope with movements of the topside facility,” says García. “In collaboration with deepwater operators and umbilical technology companies, we have participated in a number of different deepwater pipeline projects: we have worked on various different solutions where our compounds can help protect against corrosion and other damage, including coatings, polymers, and multi-layered pipe. Each project requires a tailored approach in order to tackle the individual profiles of each well and develop an optimized solution.”

In the Mexican market, Arkema will follow Pemex’s deepwater development plans closely in order to make sure that they can partner with the appropriate companies, providing them with the chemicals and compounds they need in order to develop pipes and umbilicals suitable for deepwater. “In Latin America, there tends to be a focus on national content and local development of such materials, but if Pemex decides to work with an international pipe manufacturer for its deepwater developments, that is also no obstacle for an international company like Arkema,” García concludes.