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Editorial comment

Carnival continues in Brazil Last month I attended a presentation given by Det Norske Veritas (DNV) on the challenges of installing pipelines in ever deeper water, with a particular focus on the high pressures experienced when laying pipe at depths of over 2000 m. Pipeline wall thickness typically needs to increase the deeper you go, so that the pipe can withstand increasing subsea pressure. Of course, thicker pipe walls mean that more steel is used and longer welding times are required, as well as making for difficult pipe handling on the vessel, longer lay schedules and therefore a shortage of pipelay vessels. With pipelines getting longer and deeper, it’s imperative that pipeline operators and consortiums are able to address the issue of pipe wall thickness and manage it as they descend to new depths. 

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I was particularly interested to discover that X-Stream, DNV’s new deepwater pipeline concept (utilising both inverted HIPPS and Double Block and Bleed systems to isolate a deepwater pipeline from pressure fluctuations, see news story on p. 6), was applicable for Brazil’s pre-salt fields development. 

In fact, the team of spritely, young engineers behind the project was based in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, where the challenges of the pre-salt reserves have been advancing pipeline technology ever since the discovery of Tupi in 2006. Since then, a number of pre-salt discoveries have been made: constituting vast reserves of oil and gas found in a pre-salt zone 18 000 ft (5000 m) below the ocean surface under a thick layer of salt. DNV’s deepwater gas pipeline concept would bring cost efficiencies to new production and transportation in the pre-salt layers of the Santos, Campos and Espirito Santo Basins.

It’s worth noting that Brazil remains a hotspot for offshore activity in 2012: according to Dan Bartfeld, Project Finance Partner at Milbank, a US law firm, financing activity of exploration and production assets for use offshore Brazil will continue at a strong pace in 2012: “Brazil will continue to provide a huge amount of opportunities for industry”.  Brazilian shipyards are set to boom, along with ports and pipeline transportation of course.

At World Pipelines, we have been closely following the changes taking place in Brazil and it’s great potential for the industry as a whole. For the last five years we have produced an annual Brazilian supplement to the magazine, published in Brazilian Portuguese, focusing on upstream and pipeline operations onshore and offshore Brazil.  In September this year we will publish the sixth World Pipelines & Oilfield Technology Brasil – to coincide with Rio Oil & Gas (17 – 20 September 2012, Riocentro, Rio de Janeiro). In producing the magazine over the past few years, we have witnessed Brazil’s raised profile on the world’s stage as one of the much talked about ‘BRIC’ countries. We have seen the nation’s quick resurgence from the global economic downturn, its continued stability as a solid place for foreign investment, and its admirable efforts to avoid the so-called ‘oil curse’ of other oil rich nations.

Brazil already boasts an impressive deepwater record and Petrobras has gone to great lengths to understand the country’s new pre-salt finds. Last year the Lula-Mexilhão gas pipeline, the longest and deepest rigid subea pipeline in Brazil was put into service. Petrobras has since awarded Saipem an EPIC contract for the installation of the Guara and Lula-Northeast gas export pipelines in the Santos Basin. The unique challenges of Brazil’s pre-salt reserves could catapult Brazil to the forefront of deepwater pipeline technology.

If you have an interesting angle on the Brazilian pipeline industry, or an idea for an article, I’d be happy to hear from you. 

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