For a number of months, headlines around the world have been focussing on the economic situation and the immense difficulties the downturn has imposed on individuals and companies in many industrial sectors. There is no denying the fact that huge changes are under way, and the world as a whole is having to readjust to the new regime that these changes are introducing. Many might therefore see this as a poor choice of time at which to launch a new industry publication. The hydrocarbons’ pipeline industry is, however, particularly buoyant currently, and forecasts for the next five years are tremendously positive for both on- and offshore pipeline construction. Fuelled, of course, by the world’s burgeoning need for energy, gas pipeline projects have never been of greater significance, and are focussing on transporting reserves from more technically-challenging areas than ever before. Oil, too, is in high demand, and requires transport over longer distances and through terrain of increasing complexity and environmental sensitivity.
Two recently-published authoritative reports highlight the strength of the pipeline industry and its forecast growth over the next few years. Looking offshore, London-based Infield Energy Analysts’ fourth edition of its Global perspectives pipelines and control lines update report provides an in-depth, independent analysis of the global offshore pipeline and control line market sectors from 2004 to 2013. The report covers pipelines of all lengths and diameters including SURF flowlines, trunklines, and conventional pipelines, as well as all control lines, including communication, power line, seismic cable, telecommunication, and umbilicals.
With the long-term prospect of increasing global energy demand, securing future energy supplies has become a common global issue. As the report points out, for those countries with dwindling production rates or low hydrocarbon reserves, the pressure for energy security is set to increase, while those with abundant reserves will strive to attract investment to enable adequate development to meet both domestic and foreign energy demands. As a consequence of these demands, there has been growth in the offshore oil and gas industry since 2004. A lower price outlook and lack of available credit have certainly affected the future development of reserves, but growth in the industry is still expected to continue.
Pipeline and control line installation trends have mirrored those of the wider offshore industry, which is unsurprising, considering their crucial role within the offshore oil and gas infrastructure, and Infield forecasts the total pipelines and control lines capital expenditure to exceed $265bn over the period 2009-2013. This equates to 103,435km of lines being installed, of which 81,293km will be pipelines and 22,142km will be control lines. Combined, these represent an increase of 68% in installations over that’s of the previous five years. The forecasted increase will be dominated by growth in the pipeline market, with a significantly-slower growth in the control line market. A considerable percentage of the forecast pipeline expenditure is related to far-advanced trunklines, many un-connected to specific field development projects and, as such, key infrastructure development.
Infield says that the next five years indicate a change in market demographics, in which all pipeline segments will hold fairly equal shares of the installation market. This follows a period in which conventional pipelines dominated the installation market, highlighting the industry’s historically-favoured shallow-water developments. However, as shallow-water production rates fall, the industry has sought to discover and develop deeper-water reserves. As a consequence, subsea construction, umbilical, riser, and flowline (SURF) installations have grown in the previous five-year period, and are set to continue increasing in the forecast period. The largest pipeline installation growth is expected in the trunk/export lines sector, further characterizing the increasing demand to secure a diversified mix of future energy supplies.
Whilst growth is still expected in the control line market, a decline in communication line installations and slower growth in the power line sector will be seen compared to the previous five-year period. The overall control line growth will predominantly be driven by an increase in umbilical and bundled pipeline installations, both of which imply the continuing trend to replace installation of single control lines with combined multiple line installations. Overall however, as the report highlights, the future for the pipeline and control line industry is expected to be strong with a variety of water depths, project sizes, and locations expected over the next five years.
As far as the onshore industry is concerned, Douglas-Westwood’s report points out that around 157,000km of pipelines are planned up to 2013, at a cost of over $178 billion, which is a 15% increase in length installed and a 27% increase in investment relative to the previous five-year period. Gas pipelines will make up 95,341km, and oil pipelines 35,034km, of the total, in which LNG transportation will also play a significant role. Some specific projects that will contribute to these totals are featured in this issue, among which are reviews of various aspects of the twin 1220-km long, 48-in diameter, Nord Stream pipelines, which will be the longest subsea pipelines in the world when commissioned in 2011 and 2012. The issues surrounding the design and engineering of pipelines in the Arctic, a region that is becoming of great significance, are also becoming increasingly high-profile. As a testament to this, the proposed pipeline to bring Alaskan gas to markets in the southern United States is expected to cost over $30 billion, and the latest published cost estimate for the Mackenzie gas pipeline from the Mackenzie Delta area is $16 billion.
Publishers merge: new industry magazine launched
Two of the leading providers of technical and business information for the pipeline industry, Scientific Surveys Ltd and Great Southern Press (GSP), have merged. The newly formed company has a global scope, with head offices in the UK and the Asia Pacific, as well as a strong presence in Houston and contacts throughout South America, Europe and the Middle East.
The companies will, together, continue to produce their full range of pipeline products, and have already launched a new print magazine, Pipelines International, which is supported by a comprehensive online presence and will reflect the diversity of the pipeline industry world-wide. As part of the merger, the new business division will – in association with Clarion of Houston – continue publication of the Journal of Pipeline Engineering, along with developing the comprehensive database of technical papers at www.pipedata.com, and expanding its involvement with high-quality training courses and events.
Formation of the new division is intended to build-upon the reputations of UK-based Scientific Surveys and Australian GSP in providing technical information, and the strong partnership with Clarion in Houston will be developed and enhanced. In addition to the world-renowned Pipeline Pigging & Integrity Management Conference and Exhibition in Houston each February, new major conferences and exhibitions, as well as training, will be planned elsewhere, including in the Asia-Pacific and Middle Eastern regions. The partnership will also strengthen the companies’ other existing products, for example by providing greater resources and technical expertise to The Australian Pipeliner magazine.