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Monday, July 27, 2015

Alaskan Pipeline Tidbits

Alaskan Pipeline

     Just got back from an amazing family vacation up to Alaska (cruise ship from Vancouver to Seward).  Was very cool seeing little write ups on the Alaskan Pipeline around the different coastal towns where our ship stopped.  We never made it to see the actual line, but I learned a few things all the same.  

     Some of the bits of info I ran across - photo with text written underneath in case it is ineligible.
 Alaskan Pipeline Underground.  The pipeline is buried for less than half of its length, where the ground is well drained gravel or solid rock, and thawing is no problem.  Wherever the warm oil would cause thawing of the icy soil (which would cause sinking or heaving) the pipeline, which cost about $8 billion to build, sits on top of 78,000 above-ground supports spaced 60 feet apart. 

 In 1968, a discovery well was drilled into Prudhoe Bay which proved to be one of the largest surplus oil finds in history and certainly the largest oil field in the US. It was concluded that this oil field contained an estimated 10 billion barrels of recoverable reserves.  

On September 10, 1969 the state of Alaska conducted a lease sale of the North Slope area and earned more than $900 million in revenues.  It was determined to move the oil to market through a nearly 800 mile long pipeline from Prudhoe Bay to Valdez where it would be pumped aboard tankers.  Environmental studies for the pipeline were started in 1968 and permits applied for shortly thereafter.

Several Native villages filed a lawsuit claiming the pipeline would cross their land.  The land ownership question was settled with the congressional passage of the "Alaskan Native Claim Settlement Act" brought into law by President Richard Nixon in December 1971.  

The building permit for the pipeline was issued in 1974 and construction began on March 27, 1975.  During peak construction, 20,000 were employed on what was the largest privately financed construction project in history.  It cost $8 billion, including the Valdez terminal, before it was completed in 1977.  The first tanker carrying North Slope crude oil left the Valdez terminal on August 1, 1977.

Alaskan Pipeline Thickness.  The pipeline is 48 inches in diameter and varies between 0.462 and 0.563 inches thick.  About 6 million barrels of oil move through the pipeline each day.  The oil moves at about 5.4 miles per hour and requires just over six days to travel from Prudhoe Bay to Valdez.  If full, the pipeline would hold over 9 million barrels of oil!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Flange Protection

Heat Shrinkable Corrosion Protection for Flanges

     Flangeseals are a niche product that we manufacture and sell.  Though the volume isn't yet tremendous, this is a fantastic product with a long, successful use history.  Flange Protection is a fairly common need out in the world.  There can be plenty of confusion as well though, as flange protection sleeves very often are specified on different criteria than we see field joint coatings specified.  Coincidentally, I've recently been in a position to have a few different discussions about our specific flange protection solution.

     Being that these are separate projects, there is an interesting opportunity here to evaluate our product (Flange Seal) from a couple of different angles:  Technically and cost.  

     First let's look at coating thickness:
Flangeseal is supplied with a backing thickness of 51 mils.  It is supplied with an adhesive thickness of 47 mils.  So we have a total supplied thickness of 98 mils.  This is a product that will shrink 67% if allowed to shrink that much (unrestricted by a pipe diameter, etc).  In such a case where there was going to be a full unrestricted recovery, this product backing thickness would be 127 mils.  Just like the backing, the adhesive thickness will increase during the shrink process (volume of the adhesive does not change, while the area of sleeve backing is reduced, resulting in a thicker adhesive even with the consideration that some small amount of adhesive will flow at the edges of the sleeve by design to form a seal.
That would mean a total, full unrestricted recovery of something in the neighborhood of 180 mils.  This may answer the question as many spec writers would see a number like this on a data sheet - and would copy it over to a spec - not realizing that they may have made a mistake.  If they meant to include the "full unrestricted recovery" dimensions (which are certainly are directly tied to the installed dimensions) then they have succeeded.  If, on the other hand, they have included a number which is the 'full unrestricted recovery' dimension but what they really want is the installed thickness - they may have inadvertently caused themselves an issue. 
Determining installed thickness can very often be a difficult task (as evidenced by the fact that no shrink sleeve manufacturer anywhere in the world reports an installed thickness).  Why is it difficult?  Because there are a number of very important factors.  How much 'slack' was in the shrink sleeve prior to shrinking?  What was the exact temperature of the preheated steel?  How much longitudinal shrink occurred during the shrink process?  What were weather, humidity and wind conditions during the shrink process?  What was the exact thickness of the adhesive during the manufacturing process (this can vary a great deal for mastic products, though the plant is always certain to guarantee a minimum thickness). 
Looking at this through my own 15 years of experience, exclusively with this product line, here are my opinions.
This product would be ~180 mils with a full recovery.
This product is 98 mils supplied. 
I believe it is reasonable to assume that the shrink sleeve thickness at the pipe will reach the 130+ mil thickness. 

This raises another difficult aspect of trying to define 'installed thickness' (which your client may not have even intended to do).  Because the sleeve will shrink a great deal when it bonds to the pipe surface; while not shrinking nearly as much as it bonds to the Flange surface (which is much larger) - the installed sleeve will be thicker at the pipe surface than it is at the flange surface; because shrink sleeve recovery has such a significant bearing on installed product thickness.
I'm sorry I could answer that one with fewer words.  I'm sure that is more than you ever wanted to know about installed shrink sleeve thicknesses.
 Now, when considering specifically my product (FlangeSeal) against a competitors heat shrinkable option:
Competitors product: 

Backing thickness supplied:  31 mils
Backing fully recovered:  not reported

Backing thickness supplied: 51 mils
Backing thickness fully recovered:  128 mils
So right there - we are looking at ~62% thicker backing as supplied.  I expect there will be a similar disparity with fully recovered dimensions.  So 62% thicker backing.  That is pretty significant when considering the weight these sleeves will bear on larger flanges. 
An important note:  our backing is comprised of three layers:
1 layer of radiation cross linked polyolefin
1 layer of a fiber mesh material specifically designed to improve penetration resistance and abrasion resistance (critical for sealing a flange in my opinion)
a 2nd layer of radiation cross linked polyolefin
From all I can see - my competitors product is comprised of a single layer of polyethylene.

Looking at adhesive thicknesses (which aren't as important in my opinion) - Competitor is at 44 mils and our Flangeseal is at 47 mils. 
I really think the fiber mesh laminated in the backing of our product is the most important difference though.  Truly, I think it is the difference between a product that works...and a product that doesn't.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Pipe Bundle 6-inch and 12-inch

Pipe Bumpers Made Easy

     Another job in the books and another pipe successfully protected during a bundled road bore project.  Here are a few photos.

bore bundle skids
Pipe bundled, bumpered and resting on skids to move it toward the bore hole. 

pipe doughnut
All of this rain we've had is making for some wet, messy job sites.

pipe spacing
Good photo showing the space the bumpers create.  Bumpers are located 10-20 feet 'off screen' but are still working to hold the lines separated at this point.

bumper bundle
Neither rain, nor sleet, nor snow, nor mud can prevent our BBS system from doing what it is designed to do.
      Our bumper system (BBS or BBS/CCS) has now been used successfully on numerous projects with nary a sniff of a failure or even sub-par performance.  Simple to install.  Easy to install.  Fast to install, there is no other system on the market as easy to use that can perform this well.

     Using a high durometer, specially formulated and fully evaluated proven bumper material.  This system simply works.  Our system for holding that bumper in place through out the boring process is also unmatched.  This multi layer system can be installed in three to four minutes (depending on pipe size) and can see pipe stresses as soon as it has cooled.  You have enough to worry about on this project - let us worry about preventing pipe collisions during the boring process. 

     Contact us for pricing and lead times - 936/321-3333