BTC pipeline jointing system to be tested in Caucasian winter

Dec 17, 2004 01:00 AM

Temperatures in Azerbaijan and Georgia are currently well below the 10 degrees Celsius at which problems with the specified jointing system for the BTC pipeline began to emerge last winter in the Caucasus.
The early stages of construction proved to be a field test for the Specialty Polymer Coating which BP and its operating company decided to adopt for the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline in the face of misgivings among members of their own engineering staff as well as independent pipeline consultants.

After the jointing problems were exposed in London's Sunday Times newspaper last February, a full review was undertaken by WorleyParsons in order to reassure the BTC Lenders Group that the proposed method of pipeline jointing was technically sound and would not give rise to an environmental hazard.
The group includes Britain's Export Credits Guarantee Department which is one of the financial guarantors for the $ 4 bn project. Under examination by the House of Commons Trade and Industry Committee, the ECGD directors said they were satisfied that the reports had answered their questions about the ability of this innovative method to meet the requirements of a 40-year design life.

The failed joints on the BTC pipeline have long been repaired but the same system is being used on the South Caucasus Pipeline now being built from the Shah Deniz gas field to the Turkish border. If the analysis by WorleyParsons is as well founded as the Lenders Group believe it is, this winter should provide a conclusive demonstration that, given the correct method of application at low temperatures, a fusion-bonded epoxy based material will bond with the polyethylene wrapping of the steel pipes.
This issue has divided opinion in the industry for some time, but it looks as though this winter will at last provide a definitive answer to the controversy.

Source: The Chartered Institute of Building
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