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Deep, Deep Down


The "Pengins Project", is the exceptionally challenging process of continuously extracting crude oil deposits from the English North Sea territory. ELASTOGRAN took on the challenge to develop made-to-measure, off-shore pipe insulation for the Penguins pipelines, through focused know-how and the benefit of vast experience.


The Shell Penguins Project: Offshore pipe insulation with Elastopor H in the North Sea


If you think of penguins, you think of cold and ice, tough conditions and uninhabited regions. But recently something else has begun to be associated with our polar pals. Crude oil. Or more specifically, oil extraction in the North Sea Penguins Fields. Shell has dubbed the development of the biggest continuous region of crude oil deposits in the English North Sea territory the "Penguins Project". Extracting oil from these fields is an exceptional challenge for everyone involved, including ELASTOGRAN.


Extracting crude oil requires expert knowledge, firstclass technology and equipment able to withstand extreme stress. Proven, robust materials and innovative technologies are used to ensure operational safety and durability of the pipe system over long periods of time. Together with the Danish company Logstor, one of the world's leading specialists in insulated pipe systems, ELASTOGRAN has developed a made-to-measure, off-shore pipe insulation for the Penguins pipelines in the North Sea. It's been no easy task, but focused know-how and the benefit of vast experience have led to swift success.


The pipelines connect Shell/Esso Penguins oilfields with the Brent Charlie drilling rig, situated about 150 kilometres northeast of the Shetland Islands. At nearly 70 kilometres in length, this is one of the world's longest underwater pipelines and transporting oil and gas from the deposit fields to the rig places considerable demands on the pipe system. The mode of insulation depends on water depth but preinsulated pipes, produced on shore and then laid at the sea bottom from a transport ship, have been particularly successful. The pipeline system for the Penguins Project was installed directly on the sea bottom at a water depth of around 200 metres. The temperature of extracted crude oil, even at rest, must not fall below 70 ¼C, to ensure flow speed is maintained and pipes are not clogged by precipitated paraffin or other substances. For this reason the "pipe-in-pipe system", consisting of an inner and an outer pipe, is used. Between these is a 75-millimetre- thick insulating layer of Elastopor®H polyurethane rigid foam system. This insulation guarantees high compression strength and very low heat conductivity. The pipe structure guarantees minimum heat loss. To organize schedules and transport as effectively as possible, each of the 12-metrelong pipe sections were brought to Logstor's mobile production unit specially set up for the project at Aalborg harbour in Denmark. Here, further processing and insulation took place. The inner steel piping was centred and subsequently inserted into the outer casing pipe of steel.


Specialised PUR insulation foam was applied to the cavity thus formed, and curing soon occurred. Thanks to the polyurethane system's adhesive effect, the inner and outer pipes bonded with each other, enabling the pipe system to react in a unified way to temperature fluctuations. Thus ELASTOGRAN, with our many years experience in remote thermal insulation, has succeeded in using a specialised system for this offshore pipe insulation, which guarantees continual heat tolerance for a period of 30 years of 149 ¼C, the highest available on the market.


Material:   Elastopor® H — Rigid Foam Systems
Application:   underwater pipe insulation in deep-sea regions and coastal areas
Properties:   extremely low heat conductivity, high compression strength, good mechanical properties, outstanding bonding properties with other materials, durable


Precision work: the Amenam Project in Nigeria


Logstor and ELASTOGRAN have developed a 40-kilometer long underwater pipeline for Elf Petroleum Nigeria's Amenam Project, which looks to take advantage of crude oil deposits in the Niger delta, just off the Nigerian coast. A single pipeline with Elastopor H® polyurethane foam insulation runs at a depth of 40 to 70 meters and connects three separate oil rigs.


Underwater pipelines have to meet very specific project requirements. For this pipeline, which runs through shallow Nigerian coastal waters, a system consisting of a steel pipe with PUR insulation was developed. These steel pipes are not insulated individually, but in continuous production: PUR hard foam is sprayed directly onto the rotating pipes at a thickness of 20 to 28 millimetres. Then an additional outer layer of HDPE is applied and the ends are covered with waterproof sealing material. A sealing concrete cover ensures that the pipes rest securely on the seabed.


ELASTOGRAN has developed this special foam system for the foam coating of offshore-pipelines at depths of up to 200 metres. By varying bulk density, we can precisely adjust the system to different requirements. Plus, our many years' experience with temperature-stable formulations guarantees that projects can be completed successfully under even the toughest conditions.

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