Miguel Ángel Delgado
Business Manager RE- High Performance Polymers
View from the Top

New Materials in Pipeline Development

Wed, 01/20/2016 - 15:50

Q: What role does the oil and gas sector play in EVONIK’s expansion plans, and what products does EVONIK wants to showcase?

A: For the natural gas market, our main clients are the biggest gas distributors in the country such as Mexigas, Gas Natural Fenosa, and Gas Natural Industrial de Torreón. Our main clients are companies interested in replacing existing steel pipelines with thermoplastic pipelines, or installing new lines with the capacity to obviate corrosion. We use a product called polyamide 12 (PA12) VESTAMID NRG to handle higher pressures, and it has been designed specifically for energy-efficient gas and oil pipelines. We want to specialize in areas that deal with the distribution of natural gas through thermoplastic pipes, as well as the rehabilitation of transport pipelines using lining technology. Our linings are installed internally and allow quick repair without the need to open trenches, and currently we are working with PEMEX on the installation of these products.

By taking advantage of the thermoplastic properties of the polymers, a liner is introduced, which is the insertion of a plastic tube inside a steel pipe. At the moment, there are polyethylene applications, but we are employing PA12, which allows for higher temperatures and greater resistance in the management of hydrocarbons. For natural gas, the pipelines for low pressure natural gas distribution of up to seven bars use high-density polyethylene. The PA12 properties are superior to those of low-pressure thermoplastic pipelines, and we can expand that knowledge to use high-pressure pipelines and distribute natural gas up to 18 bars.

Q: In terms of natural gas pipelines, what opportunities are opening up for EVONIK with the new Energy Reform?

A: One of the most interesting topics at the moment is related to shale gas and the construction of new pipelines on the west coast of the country, where there were no existing installations. We can use our technology in these new installations for long distance transportation at pressures of 14-18 bars. We are currently working with all of the natural gas distributors to take advantage of this opportunity. Our product was installed by Petrobras in Brazil, and there are currently about 4,000km of installed flexible pipelines.

Q: What is the process of rehabilitation of pipelines, and what opportunities does it create for EVONIK?

A: The liner technologies are designed for the rehabilitation of pipelines that handle hydrocarbons and therefore experience internal corrosion. These liners protect the duct from corrosion without blocking the flow of the product. Normal production stops temporarily while we complete installation and we usually synergize with companies such as UPS to complete the rehabilitation process. We provide the materials and technology for the installation of thermoplastics and then UPS installs the liners using a technology called "roll down", which is the process of compressing the material to the adequate diameter so that it fits within the pipeline. In the case of a straight pipeline, we can build up to 1.5km without having to construct a trench. It is much safer to use these products because they are far more resistant and corrosion is prevented, as well as using less intermediate welds, allowing companies to install up to 200m of continuous pipelines with thermoplastic pipe coils. Another advantage is that, since the product does not require a great amount of welding, it lowers the installation and maintenance costs.

Q: What position would EVONIK like to hold in the industry, and what is being done to obtain that profile?

A: We want to be the leaders in the installation of highpressure thermoplastic pipelines of a maximum capacity of 18 bars. We collaborate with the entire supply chain, instead of only being the suppliers of the raw materials in the manufacture of PA12 pipes. The biggest opportunities for EVONIK are the new ducts being built in the west, near Sonora and Jalisco. These constructions present a great opportunity for the installation of new lines, and potential for supply to industrial parks and cities, without having to create large trenches to install them. We plan on achieving this by adapting the new thermoplastic technology, and utilizing market expertise on polyethylene to expand our product portfolio in the natural gas market.