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Repurposing, re-using, recycling

Published by , Editorial Assistant
World Pipelines,

Rising commodity costs, not least the price of steel, combined with soaring shipping and freight rates, alongside a global desire to reduce CO2 emissions, means no stone should be left unturned in finding ways to re-use and recycle steel.

Repurposing, re-using, recycling

Add in geopolitical disruptions in Europe and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, resulting in sanctions on the world’s fourth largest steel producer, and disruption to 90% of Ukraine’s steel capacities (the world’s 8th largest producer) and it’s plain to see the energy sector which relies heavily on steel tubulars faces a challenging time.

Utility or oil and gas pipelines can be split into two main re-use or recycle categories – prime surplus pipe and decommissioned pipe – and if executed properly, both can release significant value to the asset owner. Looking at the decommissioned market first, the opportunity is immediate and on paper potentially massive.

Over the next 10 years, it is estimated that 7500 km of oil and gas pipelines in UK and Norwegian waters will require to be decommissioned, meaning if it can’t be repurposed in-situ, it must be removed from the seabed. However, this North Sea infrastructure is dwarfed by the 7.5 million t of steel and 55 000 km of pipeline in the Asia-Pacific region which will become redundant in the next decade, ranging from India to Papua New Guinea, and China to Australia.

With energy transition and working towards a net-zero end-game placed front and centre in the boardroom of every oil and gas major, the focus has turned to repurposing as much redundant infrastructure as possible, and millions of pounds of government and private sector money is being invested in the research and development of potential solutions.

Innovative thinking and emerging technologies are making it increasingly realistic that North Sea oil and gas infrastructure, which has helped keep UK lights on for half a century, could be put to use in generating or storing green energies, including wind, hydrogen, carbon capture and storage (CCS), solar and tidal technologies.

Repurposing steel tubulars

It seems ethically and economically sensible to make the most of that existing infrastructure to push forward on energy transition goals, but even with the sector’s best brains engaged in determining the optimal use for end-of-life pipelines, it’s estimated there will still be more than 500 000 t of pipelines which will have to be removed from the seabed ...

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