How TCP reduces the CO2 footprint of a subsea infrastructure by over 50%

8 July 2020 Written by Martin van Onna

The industry is increasingly focusing on reducing the CO2 footprint of their operations. In this article we investigate the CO2 footprint of a TCP based flowline installation and show how this can reduce the footprint by over 50% compared to that of steel.

A growing list of operators have announced ambitions to reduce the carbon footprint of their operations and the products they sell. As such the oil and gas industry is taking unprecedented steps towards a lower carbon energy system. One such example is Shell, who has set itself an ambition to become, by 2050 or sooner, a net-zero emissions energy business.

Airborne Oil & Gas, in our goal to support the industry towards net zero, is working towards reducing the CO2 footprint related to our product, TCP, across the same scopes 1, 2 and 3 and to report on this on a regular basis. This first article on this theme shows how low the footprint is of a Glass Fiber PolyEthylene based TCP product. A case is shown where TCP with typical, field proven installation, is compared to a typical steel pipe installation, on an as-installed basis. Further, where this article presents those initial insights, in Airborne Oil & Gas we have committed ourselves to completing this journey to include retrieval and recycling, and with that, to complete our understanding and reporting of the footprint for the full value chain.

Reduction scope through TCP

Many companies have adopted the standards put forth by the Greenhouse Gas Protocol (GHGP)[2]. It defines 3 scopes for the greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), with scope 1 including the direct emissions, scope 2 the indirect emissions of purchased electricity and scope 3 including all upstream and downstream not included in the scopes 1 and 2. Scope 3 emissions include the footprint of the materials we buy, the installation of our products as well as operation and recycling. These are also referred to as value chain emissions, and often represent the majority of an organization’s total GHG emissions.

When translated to TCP and Airborne Oil & Gas, scopes 1 and 2 are relatively small, and it is evident that scope 3 is what matters most:

  • Scope 1, direct greenhouse gas emissions, include the natural gas used for heating of the buildings, and fuel from lease cars
  • Scope 2, electricity related indirect greenhouse gas emissions are zero as we buy only 100% green electricity
  • Scope 3, for the TCP product, represents that largest scope of GHG emissions and for us are grouped as follows and as depicted in Figure 1:

a)     CO2 footprint related to the materials we use for manufacturing TCP. With scopes 1 and 2, we refers to this as the “Ex-Works footprint”

b)    Footprint related to the transport and installation of TCP. We refer to this as the “As-Installed footprint”

c)     Footprint related to the operation of TCP, including recycling of the TCP (End of Life): the “Life Cycle footprint”

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Figure 1: CO2 footprint versus GHG emission zones

In our work to understand and report on our total footprint under scopes 1, 2 and 3, we have started with accurately understanding the footprint of scopes 1 and 2. In understanding scope 3 we have started with the “Ex-Works”, moving to the “As-Installed” to end with the “Life Cycle” footprints. By providing these quantities through our reporting and product datasheets, we assist our end-users, the Oil & Gas operators, to calculate their scope 3 footprints.

Mapping the Ex-Works footprint of TCP

The “Ex-Works” footprint of TCP includes scope 1, 2 and the materials used for manufacturing TCP. We have performed a detailed carbon footprint analysis of the material and manufacturing phase of TCP and compared the results to those for carbon steel pipelines. For the steel pipeline, an 8 inch nominal steel pipe is assumed; for TCP the following is assumed:

·       A 7.5 inch inner diameter TCP, which has similar flow properties compared to steel

·       The TCP is based on E-glass fiber in a PolyEthylene matrix, and using PolyEthylene liner and coating

·       The pipe is manufactured in lengths of 5000 meters per spool

·       The pipe includes end-fittings

·       For on-bottom stability, a weight coating is included in the pipe and analysis

Results are depicted in Figure 2; they show that TCP as manufactured (Ex-Works footprint) has a 40% smaller carbon footprint than steel. For example, for a 22 km flowline, selecting TCP over steel would yield, on a material only basis, a CO2 reduction of over 1000 tons – a significant reduction. We will see that this benefit increases when considering installation as well (As Installed footprint).

We note that when using carbon fiber or aramid fibers, the CO2 footprint of the pipe is larger; the combination of E-glass fiber with PolyEthylene is likely to be the lowest footprint combination available on the market today. 

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Figure 2: Ex-Works CO2 footprint

Mapping the As-Installed footprint of TCP

With the manufacturing and Ex-Works delivery of TCP assessed, the next step of installation is anticipated. To assess this for TCP, and make a relevant comparison to steel, an installation case is assumed which is field proven for TCP, in a West African country. This is summarized in Table 1 below, where we have taken an example based on a 22 km flowline installed in shallow water.

Table 1: Field proven installation case West Africa

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In the offshore installation assessment, the CO2 footprint of all the installation elements have been assessed, except for the J-tube (TCP case) and Riser (Steel case) installation as they are similar. This assessment includes the fuel consumption for both transportation as well as installation for the TCP as well as (rental) installation equipment. The results are shown in Figure 3 below. What is clear, is that the installation part is the largest contribution to the CO2 footprint of the product. Further, with TCP being installed by much smaller MPV’s, which have much lower fuel consumption, the footprint reduction of TCP is enhanced to over 50%.

With the TCP pipe not requiring any maintenance or corrosion inhibitors, the life cycle footprint is expected to again show further benefits. This will be the subject of a next assessment.

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Figure 3: As-Installed CO2 footprint

Conclusions

Airborne Oil & Gas is committed to supporting the industry towards achieving zero net emissions. In the work done to date, we see that on an As-Installed basis, TCP can lead to a significant footprint reduction of over 50%. We have also seen through this assessment, that the TCP product itself, especially when using glass fibers as reinforcement, leads to a significant reduction of the CO2 footprint when compared to steel.

We note that the offshore installation is the largest contribution to the CO2 footprint of the as-installed pipeline system; within this installation, it is the fuel consumption that has the largest impact. As we have proven in the field, TCP can be installed with relatively small MPV’s, which lead to a significant reduction in fuel consumption when compared to installing steel pipelines.

[1] A partnership between the World Resources Institute (WRI) and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD)

[2] Multi Purpose Vessel

[3] Reel Drive System

[4] Diver Support Vessel

If you want to know more about the benefits of TCP for your application, please contact us.