Alejandro Gutiérrez
Director General
United Pipeline Systems

Pumping New Life into Old Pipelines

Sun, 01/08/2017 - 16:43

Every day, Mexico’s mature oil fields are generating a growing volume of produced water, which has a negative impact on the integrity of an aging pipeline and production infrastructure. New players taking over PEMEX’s production fields and facilities will need to look for innovative solutions to give new life to the assets they are inheriting, says Alejandro Gutiérrez, Director General of United Pipeline de México. He adds that United Pipeline can help operators meet this growing challenge by addressing integrity issues through the use of its costeffective pipeline technologies.

“Our Tite Liner© system, a pipe system installed within an existing pipe, allows us to rejuvenate existing pipelines and literally transform them from a high-risk liability to a safe and efficient transportation asset,” Gutiérrez says. United Pipeline, a subsidiary of Aegion Corporation, is a specialized pipeline technology company offering a wide range of rehabilitation and infrastructure integrity solutions. The Tite Liner© system, United’s core technology, was developed in 1985 and has evolved into a cutting-edge alternative that protects over 60 million feet (18,000km) of pipelines across six continents, he adds.

“Our thermoplastic liners,” Gutiérrez says, “protect the interior of a pipeline or piping system against corrosion and abrasion thereby improving their integrity and operational reliability. On top of that, the use of our lining systems eliminates the need for corrosion inhibitors, which represent an ongoing operational cost that can pay for a liner system in a short period of time.”

One of the projects Gutiérrez is perhaps most enthusiastic about is the company’s opportunity to rehabilitate and bring back to life two CO2 transport pipelines for PEMEX Fertilizantes’ urea plant in Pajaritos, Veracruz. “Through the use of an interactive liner that provides structural strength and corrosion protection, we will be re-conditioning a pair of CO2 pipelines that our customer was ready to write off,” he says. “Through the use of our Safety-Liner™ system along with the use of novel resin technology co-developed by United and Evonik Industries of Germany, we will provide a solution that gives new economic life to a deteriorated pipeline.” He adds that the system will incorporate real time Cathodic Protection (CP) system monitoring along with a leak-less breach detection system and other technical advancements.

The University of Texas at Austin has been supporting United Pipeline in refining its leak detection technology, which will be incorporated into the Safety-Liner™ system installed in this project. By pooling together leading industry players with varied areas of expertise, Gutiérrez believes the company will deliver on its objective of expanding the company’s service envelope to include a complete integrity management portfolio while branching into undeveloped markets.

“With everything that is happening in Mexico’s energy market, we see tremendous opportunities to expand into unserved market areas. We are both bullish and enthusiastic about what Mexico has to offer and the benefits this market can bring in the future,” he says.

In addition to setting its sights on distressed pipelines, United Pipeline de México is assessing a potential project for incorporating Aegion’s Asset Integrity Management (AIM™) tool to provide an integrity management portal for its customers' assets. This includes performing aerial surveys of pipeline systems and networks whose baseline information may be scant or completely lacking. “By using the same technology used by Google Maps and Apple, we can survey large pipeline systems in a fast, affordable and highly precise manner using industry-proven technology,” Gutiérrez adds, “a service which companies like CENAGAS, IEnova, TransCanada and others could use to provide accurate and timely information to assess the condition of their transportation networks.” In addition to the work United is doing with its lining technology, the company is also engaged in providing cathodic protection services for new pipeline projects as well as performing structural strengthening of industrial plants like the work it is performing on two 300-foot tall concrete structures for a petrochemical plant in Veracruz.