FAQ

Airborne Oil & Gas general

Airborne International, as former parent company of Airborne Oil & Gas, developed the concept of TCP in 1999. Airborne Oil & Gas was set up as dedicated Business Unit under Airborne International to commercialize and further develop TCP. As such, Airborne Oil & Gas was the first company to have developed TCP in the world. Airborne Oil & Gas became an independent company in 2014. Today, we have the largest track record with most pipes in operation, including hydrocarbon service, and several records including the world`s deepest TCP in 2140 meters water depth, and the world`s first TCP Flowline for hydrocarbon service.

Thermoplastic Composite Pipe technology

The Thermoplastic Composite Pipe, or TCP, has one simple, fully bonded or monolithic pipe wall. It consists of an inner polymer liner, a composite reinforcement layer consisting of several individual plies of fibre reinforced tape, and a robust outer coating. The polymers used in the liner, fibre matrix and coating are always of the same type. We use PolyEthylene (PE), PolyAmide (PA12), and polyvinylidene difluoride (PVDF) as polymers, and glass or carbon fibres as reinforcement. All individual layers are melt-fused together, ensuring a bond between the layers that is as strong and durable as the base materials. The simplicity of the concept results in a safe and reliable product due to the very limited number of potential failure modes; the fact that we always use the most optimal material depending on the application ensures that we always offer the most cost effective solution.

We always select the most cost-effective material for each application. As with steel, operators do not use duplex stainless steel throughout their infrastructure; instead, they use the most cost-effective material where possible. In closely scrutinising all materials and their performance, today we have selected glass-PE, carbon-PA12 and carbon-PVDF as the best materials, for the following reasons:

  • 1. These materials are most cost effective within their range of applicability of pressure and temperature
  • 2. They are the most flexible polymers leading to easy manipulation and installation. In addition, their ductility avoids any microcracking in the pipe structure during bending, as more brittle polymers are.
  • 3. They allow for the smallest minimum bend radius, including risers, allowing for known and proven installation methods to be used
  • 4. All these polymers have already a long track record in Oil and Gas We are always happy to explain how we work in designing and selecting the right material and are happy to share cost comparisons with you. Please contact us for more information.

We apply a fully bonded outer coating for protection of the pipe during handling and installation. The outer coating is an integral part of the TCP as we use the same polymer as the matrix in the composite layer; as result the outer coating is very strong, durable and continues into the end-fitting as part of the termination. Our TCP does not suffer from rapid gas decompression, blistering or coating blow-off, which is a known failure mode on composite pipe systems with unbonded coating in gas service.

Yes, our TCP can be terminated in the field. Because of our strong and fully bonded wall, which includes the bonded outer coating, we can simply cut the pipe at any location along the pipe and terminate in the field. We can do this offshore as well, in horizontal or vertical position, for instance above the J-tube. This concept allows clients to have a length of pipe on stock and cut to the required length, an ideal solution in for instance subsea jumper applications.

Airborne Oil & Gas has conducted severe impact testing to understand the effect of impact loading on TCP due to dropped objects or very rough pipe handling. The test results have proven that the ductile and flexible materials that we use in TCP provide excellent impact resistance and shock absorption.

Airborne Oil & Gas has completed an extensive erosion test program that showed that erosion performance is better than in steel. This test program included the creation and validation of a computational fluid dynamics model which allows us to perform accurate assessment of our clients erosion profile.

By nature of the TCP being stronger and truly fully bonded, the application scope of TCP is significantly larger than that of RTP. In short:

  • Where RTP can typically handle pressures up to 70 bar, TCP is currently qualified to 689 bar, or 10,000 psi, higher by a factor of 10.
  • RTP is mainly used onshore, sometimes offshore in very shallow water of about 30 meters maximum. TCP is qualified to 3000 meters water depth and is proven with track record in 2140 meters water depth.
  • RTP cannot handle gas service under higher pressure without significant additional measures to be implemented such as gas venting etc. TCP does not require this and can handle all services, including sweet, sour, crude, full wellstream and gas.
  • RTP true inner bore diameters typically are limited to 5.6 inch inner diameter. Our TCP goes up to 7.75 inch true bore inner diameter.
  • RTP typically can be supplied in lengths of 300 meters per spool; TCP is manufactured in continuous lengths of at least 3,000 meters. The maximum supplied length per spool depends on allowable drum size, but even on standard road transportable drums TCP can be supplied in lengths of at least 600 meters.

Main Benefits and Cost

TCP does not corrode and reduces installation cost compared to steel pipes. The benefits can be summarized as follows:

  • Where steel corrodes and requires regular pigging and inspection, TCP does not corrode and as such produce continuously without regular inspections.
  • TCP is supplied in long lengths of around 3000 meters per spool (based on 6 inch 100 bar), which is lightweight and easy to install. The TCP is cheaper to transport, and installation can be fast by flex-lay, horizontal lay using small vessels, or tow-out.
  • The flexibility of TCP reduces the requirement for seabed preparation and provides more flexibility to deal with existing infrastructure, coral reefs and the like. This significantly reduces cost and installation time.
  • The long length of TCP per line reduces the number of flanged connections to a minimum, or to zero. The flexibility of the TCP, in combination with the ability to terminate offshore, allow even for J-tube pull in, avoiding diving and subsea connections altogether.

The main benefits of using TCP differ for each application:

  • Flowlines: Lower total installed cost and lower total life cycle cost by lower transportation and installation cost. The pipe cost is lower compared to flexible pipe.
  • Well jumpers and spools: Dramatically lower total installed cost thanks to avoidance of metrology, easier subsea installation through submersible pallet or direct by the vessel crane, and lower pipe cost compared to flexible pipe.
  • Risers: Significantly lower installation cost thanks to the avoidance of buoyancy elements, related installation, and fewer sections of riser.
  • Downlines: Higher flowrates leading to more effective stimulation of the reservoir, lower cost per intervention thanks to the superior fatigue performance of the TCP, and de-risking of the intervention operation thanks to the durability of the pipe system.
  • Jumpers: High flowrates in combination with collapse resistance to large water depth.

The benefits of lightweight, flexible TCP offer huge knock-on effects that trigger clients to think further and use TCP to optimise the full field layout:

  • Well jumpers and spools: The flexibility of the TCP allows for easy installation of well jumpers, doing away with metrology and increasing the target box for the well itself. This reduces the cost for drilling the well. In addition, the low stiffness of the TCP compared to flexible pipe and high-stiffness PEEK TCP, reduces the loading on the connectors that connect the well jumper to the wellhead or manifold, which in turn can reduce the cost of the connectors and/or reduce the size of the subsea structures and their associated cost.
  • Risers: The low weight of the TCP Riser significantly reduces the hang-off weight at the floater, platform or FPSO (Floating Production, Storage and Offloading facility), which in turn leads to additional knock-on effects. The riser balcony that supports all the risers on spread-moored FPSO’s can be reduced in size, the riser pull-in system can be made smaller, the mooring system is smaller. Finally, the lower top tension lead to more pay-load carrying capability of the floater.

TCP is lightweight, spoolable, flexible and does not corrode. These elements always lead to a significant reduction in total installed cost and total cost of ownership, through any one or a combination of the following effects:

  • 1. In most cases, the transport cost for TCP is much lower by the low pipe weight and flexibility. Airborne’s TCP is the most flexible TCP and can be transported on wooden drums or pallets.
  • 2. The installation can be done either in flexlay / horizontal lay method, allowing for using vessels of opportunity, or using the proven tow-out method, whereby low-cost tug boats are used for pulling the pipe to location and laying down onto the seabed.
  • 3. Airborne’s TCP is the most flexible TCP; this allows easy subsea installation of TCP by ROV, subsea pallet and avoids the need for metrology of jumper spools.

We have proven business cases in working on our projects with our clients. We are happy to work with you on assessing the cost for your project too. Beyond the lower installation cost, the lifecycle cost is reduced because of the total lack of corrosion, and easy recovery of the flexible TCP.

Design and qualification

Airborne Oil & Gas designs the TCP based on fundamental understanding of the behaviour of the constituents, the fibre and the polymer. In order to work with our clients on designing, we wrote a white paper on this subject, called “Design and Qualification of Thermoplastic Composite Pipe”. Please contact us to receive a copy of this document. It outlines the design and qualification method that we use. Further, in order to help our clients become more comfortable with TCP and its design, we do lunch & learns, and we provide training on TCP design. Please contact us for more information.

Airborne Oil & Gas has qualified TCP in compliance with the recommended practice DNVGL-RP F119 for TCP in subsea applications. This qualification includes product qualification, materials, design approach and production. To date, we have qualified TCP for permanent application in flowlines and jumper spools for hydrocarbon service, methanol injection, chemical injection and water injection.
For subsea well intervention applications such as downlines and dynamic jumpers, Airborne Oil & Gas is fully qualified for pressure ratings up to 10,000 psi. In 2018, design pressures up to 15,000 psi will be qualified as well.

Airborne Oil & Gas tests TCP in full compliance with the standard DNVGL-RP F119. The testing covers both the material itself, as well as the full-scale product, as per the testing matrix outlined in the recommended practice. This can be summarized as follows:

  • 1. The material is tested in the fluids it is used in, for short and long term, at the minimum and maximum design temperatures. This includes all long-term effects such as ageing, stress rupture and fatigue. Important is the fact that we test the material submerged in the fluid; for instance, NORSOK M710 hydrocarbon mixture, or methanol, seawater etc.
  • 2. The full-scale testing confirms the accuracy of the design method by validating the design predictions. These tests include burst, collapse, bending fatigue, impulse testing and the like. In addition, Airborne Oil & Gas have tested erosion, impact and fire jetting, all with great success.

Please contact Airborne Oil & Gas for a full overview of testing performed.

We have tested and qualified our onshore product TCP Light in full compliance to API RP 15S standard.

For our subsea products, Airborne Oil & Gas tests TCP in full compliance with the recommended practice DNVGL-RP F119 and have the certifications for its design method, material, production method and first product TCP Flowline. On all our products, we provide the client with a Manufacturer’s Certificate of Conformity, certifying that the TCP we supply is in compliance to the recommended practice DNVGL-RP F119.

Installation, on-bottom stability and subsea configuration

Airborne Oil & Gas designs TCP such that existing and known installation method can be used, albeit the most cost-effective ones. This is summarized as follows:

  • TCP Flowline can be installed using the horizontal lay method, or flex lay, using small vessels, and using the tow-out method using tug boats.
  • TCP Jumper spool can be deployed either using subsea pallets (small bore) and installed by ROV or divers, or deployed using the vessel crane with (diverless) tirfor for the larger bore TCP

We have designed the TCP Riser such that today’s installation vessels can be used for their installation. We have been able to achieve this by selecting the right material in combination with optimised pipe design. Using current installation vessels, allows operators to replace the flexible pipe by TCP Riser, without the need to change their configuration or proven installation methods.

Airborne Oil & Gas has developed a suite of solutions that allow the operator or the installation contractor to choose the best method. These include:

  • 1. Integrated weight coating, which enables the TCP to have sufficient weight either for short term stability or full life stability.
  • 2. Added on weight through ballast elements, applied during installation
  • 3. Pipe anchoring on the seabed.
  • 4. Clamp-on continuous weight through wire-rope or similar such as chain

We work with the installation contractor and operator to select the best method and provide oversight during installation offshore.

The integrated weight coating is an optional fourth layer of the TCP. The materials used for this layer are the base polymer of the TCP (being PE, PA12 or PVDF) mixed with heavy particles. Like all other layers in TCP, also the weight coating is fully bonded to the outer coating layer.

The integrated weight coating offers the possibility to tune the mass of the TCP to the requirements from the global configuration analysis. By integrating weight into the TCP only where required, Airborne Oil & Gas can always offer the TCP in the configuration as preferred by the operator. This includes the free hanging riser configuration, enabling maximum flexibility in well placement, or other configurations such as tensioned configurations (for example steep wave configurations, top tensioned risers or riser towers).