Petrobras, Shell and Strohm adopt TCP Flowline in Brazil

By Dominic Ellis
Strohm teams up with Petrobras and Shell for its Thermoplastic Composite Pipe (TCP) Flowline and Riser technology and prototypes will be installed by 2024

Strohm has teamed up with Petrobras and Shell for its Thermoplastic Composite Pipe (TCP) Flowline and Riser technology under a Joint Industry Programme (JIP).

The four-year contract, which Strohm values as "sizeable", has the potential to revolutionise the deepwater flowline and riser market in Brazil and beyond, with a corrosion-free solution that has a 30-year design life. It claims it will be the world’s most advanced programme for bringing TCP Flowline and Risers offshore under actual field conditions. 

The programme will manufacture and pilot the installation of two TCP systems, one for TCP Flowlines and the second for TCP Risers, resulting in the industry’s first programme to mature the TCP Riser to TRL-6 (API 17N), proving it is an enabling technology and ready for deployment. 

The award coincides with a large plant expansion which is well underway at Strom’s premises in The Netherlands. The JIP has also extended its footprint in Brazil triggering a raft of local engineering appointments and a new Rio de Janeiro office. 

The region’s prolific pre-salt provinces have some of the most productive wells in the world. Typically, deepwater fields such as these, are produced through dynamic risers connected to floating production storage and offloading (FPSO) vessels. Recently, conventional flexible flowline and risers have been reported to exhibit premature integrity issues due to corrosion, leading to regular replacement which is costly and leads to deferred production. 

Strohm’s TCP Flowline and Riser is a disruptive new product that is corrosion-resistant with a 30-year design life. It has a superior fatigue performance and is lightweight compared to steel, resulting in a cost effective free-hanging catenary configuration once installed. 

TCP was introduced to the market by Strohm in 2010 and since then, Strohm has built the world’s largest track record for TCP Flowlines and Jumpers. The TCP Flowline and Riser JIP builds on earlier work performed in Brazil and starts this month when the firm will develop, qualify and test its composite pipe technology with the two operators to make it fully field proven and commercially available to the Oil & Gas Industry. 

Strohm CEO Oliver Kassam, said the partnership was very significant and foresees the prototypes installed in deepwater by 2024.  

“TCP has the potential to transform the global deepwater flowline and riser market and unlocks a huge potential for us in Brazil. The Brazilian pre-salt cluster currently has 20-plus FPSOs in operation and each one is supporting numerous risers, providing a major opportunity in the replacement market," he said.

"In addition, the country also invests around $1 billion in risers to support new FPSO operations each year, and this is set to climb in line with its ambition to become the world’s fourth largest oil producer by 2029. This JIP confirms that TCP is well positioned to be a game changer for the deepwater sector and for  Strohm. We are on track to fulfil our vison of being the leading provider of non-corrosive solutions and supporting our strategy to provide products that deliver a significantly lower carbon footprint.” 

The TCP Riser is low in its carbon footprint as it is spoolable and prepared in long lengths resulting in lower transportation and installation costs. The riser is installed using vessels currently available in the market, and as it does not require any buoyancy elements during installation, costs are significantly reduced leading to an overall saving. As a consequence, CO2 emissions are greatly reduced. It is also 100% recyclable.  

Henk de Boer, Strohm’s Chief Technology Officer added: “We’ve worked closely with Petrobras and Shell to understand their requirements for installation, subsea configuration as well as fluids, pressures and design life requirements. The result is a TCP Riser technology that is insensitive to CO2 and H2S, can be installed with existing vessels with modest modifications and support the free hanging catenary configuration, negating the need for buoyancy elements, a big cost driver in deepwater.” 

As part of the programme, engineering activities and pipe testing will be carried out in The Netherlands and Brazil, and full-scale prototypes will be manufactured and installed offshore Brazil. 

Juliano Dantas, Petrobras Chief of R&D, said: “We believe that this JIP built in collaboration with Strohm is well suited to successfully bring the TCP Riser technology to the field. This JIP fits in our strategy of deployment driven development; it is our aim to be able to offer the TCP Riser as a solution to our projects within Petrobras as quickly as possible.” 

Olivier Wambersie, designated Shell GM Brazil Technology, said it has been working closely with Strohm for many years. "We really keen to see this programme leading to the world’s first application of TCP Flowline and Riser for deepwater Pre-salt conditions. Not only will it address the asset integrity challenges, it will also bring a positive impact on the carbon Intensity of our operations."

The upcoming October auction of 92 blocks, that comprise Campos, Pelotas, Potiguar, and Santos Basins, will be followed by the December auction of the Brazil-based Atapu and Sépia pre-salt fields. The December one alone, estimated to be one of the largest in history, is expected to drive investments of US$38.3 billion by 2050 and account for 15% of the national oil output in the country by 2030.

Its total production of 3.1 million barrels per day (or 2.8% of the world total) is expected to reach 5.3 million barrels a day by 2030 due to a full calendar of competitive auctions, which would position Brazil as a top-five oil producer in the world.

"Brazil is ready to grow production and take a leading position in the oil and gas sector. This will be made possible by new investments in mature fields, development of pre-salt fields, offshore blocks in the exploratory phase, and a calendar of new auctions," said Roberto Escoto, Managing Director at Apex-Brasil. "We are the leading oil producer in Latin America, the 10th producer globally, and the seventh largest consumer market for oil products and service. The opportunities for investors continue exponentially increasing."


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