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Survival in the desert

Published by , Editorial Assistant
World Pipelines,

Matteo Dondeo, Euro Pipeline Equipment S.p.A., Italy, discusses the key features of equipment used for a challenging pipelaying operation in the deserts of Kuwait.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of activity for Euro Pipeline Equipment S.p.A., and this article looks back at the many projects the company has carried out. Since 2015, the company has changed its approach to the market, developing into an active pipeline equipment manufacturer in serving oil and gas sectors across the globe, from Mexico to Argentina, Europe to the Middle East, and North Africa to Russia.

The entire range of products from pipelayers to bending machines, from pay welders to vacuum lifts, has benefitted from thorough design improvements – introducing the use of suppliers like Caterpillar, Yanmar, Sauer Danfoss, Bosch Rexroth, Fassi, Bonfiglioli, Berko and many others. This has been a key focus of Euro Pipeline Equipment, together with the build-up of its rental service.

In less than 36 months, 41 pipelayers (98 t) have been manufactured and proposed to the market; however, nowadays this is not enough. Clients require a real integrated service with a range of options, from the possibility of choosing the simple cold rental of the equipment, up to the turnkey solution of rental with maintenance and operators.

As a result of this flexibility, the availability of a rental fleet, and financing solutions in case of purchase of equipment, more than 200 pieces of pipeline equipment and accessories manufactured by Euro Pipeline have been used by pipeline contractors across the world. One of the most recent challenges has been the New Refinery Pipeline project under development in Kuwait.

Case study: Kuwait

The protagonist of this project is the pipelayer Performer 980, chosen by Alghanim International due to its patented technology that allows a containerised shipment. One of the key aspects of this project is the extreme conditions, in which 20 pipelayers and a bending machine from Euro Pipeline’s rental fleet have been working for almost two years. With environmental temperatures up to 52°C, constant winds and desert sand, the pipelayers have been working in laydown, welding and tie-in crews without any major breakdown thanks to the specific design of the component, and the regular maintenance carried out on-site by Euro Pipeline technicians.

This particular contract, on top of the harsh conditions, foresees a full-service including mobilisation of the equipment; rental; maintenance with technicians on-site; supply of parts, consumables, and lubricants; and also locally hired operators. In terms of Euro Pipeline’s history, this is the rental project most similar to a subcontract. The Performer 980, a 98 t hydrostatic pipelayer of the last generation in terms of heavy equipment, can be equipped with a Tier 3A engine, or Tier IV f-Stage V engine for those locations in which emissions are required to comply with the most stringent regulations. As standard it comes with Bosch hydrostatic transmission that allows counter-rotation of the tracks, to aid handling on-site.

The most important feature of the Euro Pipeline Performer is the patented system that allows operators to dismantle the left and right tracks; in this way, the pipelayers can be shipped via standard open top container, resulting in cost and time savings since special transport authorisations are not required.

The Euro Pipeline solution for modular pipelayers is designed to be easy-to-use and effective. Thanks to a dedicated console, the operator can control four stabiliser legs hydraulically actuated that lift the equipment from the ground. Once the pipelayer is lifted in a safe position, another set of controls activate a pin and hook system that allows the disengagement of the left and right tracks. Counterweight as a package, boom and accessories are then disassembled. The full operation cycle is carried out in a couple of hours, and requires an operator and several helpers together with a small crane to handle the parts. Each pipelayer fits into two 40 ft plus one 20 ft open top containers.

In order to provide the best working conditions for operators and maximise efficiency on-site, all the Performers have been equipped with a fully enclosed cabin with air conditioning and a digital display to continuously monitor the working parameters of the pipelayer. All the controls feature ergonomic multi-function joysticks that are designed to enable precise operation of the tracks and winches.

A fully integrated electronic package

All the Performer pipelayers are equipped, as standard, with an anti-tipping system and load monitoring for safe operations in any conditions, including challenges that present themselves, such as steep slopes. It works by measuring the boom angle and the hook load, providing a continuous feedback to the CPU. If the combination of load and angle is over a pre-set curve, the anti-tipping system disengages the boom and/or the hook in order to avoid a dangerous situation for the operator.

A graphic chart is also reported on the screen for the operator, and a traffic light allows line inspectors to evaluate in real-time that all the equipment is operating in a safe way.

It is possible to easily adjust (within certain ranges and always on the safe side of the operation) the intervention of the anti-tipping system in order to best fit the specific site requirements, such as the depth of the trench or increased tolerance for the operator manoeuvres. The operator can also intervene autonomously as a result of a free fall push button, in order to free the load and prevent tipping. An electronic boom kick-out completes the electronic package, to prevent boom bending in case of incorrect operation.

To read the rest of this article, please download the full issue of World Pipelines' annual EXTREME supplement for free here.

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