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Qualification of Flexible Fiber-Reinforced Pipe
for 10000-Foot Water Depths

Conference Paper · May 2013
DOI: 10.4043/24160-MS

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Vineet Jha Neville Dodds
General Electric GE Oil and Gas UK
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Todd A Anderson Mark Vermilyea
GE Global Research GE Global Research
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analysis of performance. analysis of performance. superior matrix chemical resistance by using proven thermoplastic materials. material and subcomponent testing. Introduction The relatively recent ultra-deepwater (> 1500 m) discoveries in the Gulf of Mexico. with the support of Research Partnership to Secure Energy for America (RPSEA). N. Specifically.000 psi) will require technical innovations in current flexible pipe technology and rigorous testing to prove to customers that these new technologies are robust and durable. D. 6–9 May 2013. and V. The program is based on a novel hybrid flexible riser technology that will be developed and qualified by a combination of design. and a reduced layer count leading to easier inspection. superior matrix chemical resistance by using proven thermoplastic materials. Abstract The combination of ultra-deepwater applications and large pipe diameter requirements presents severe engineering challenges for rigid pipe technology and remains outside current flexible pipe qualification scope. illustrations may not be copied. The concept consists of an optimally engineered combination of metallic and composite reinforcing layer technologies.R. . USA. as well as off the coasts of Brazil and Angola. The design parameters used to meet the objectives of the RPSEA program are summarized in the following Table 1. a field trial. This paper will review the conceptual design of the flexible pipe and end terminations. present an enormous opportunity and technical challenge.000-Foot Water Depths T. or members. Finch and J. reduction of sheath leakage by fusing together the reinforcement and liner. has recently embarked on a development program to qualify flexible pipe with an internal diameter of greater than seven inches for ultra-deepwater applications. GE Oil & Gas Copyright 2013. This paper will review the conceptual design of the flexible pipe and end terminations and an overview of the plan for pipe qualification will be discussed.E. This paper was selected for presentation by an OTC program committee following review of information contained in an abstract submitted by the author(s). General Electric. the combination of ultra deepwater and relatively large pipe diameter is outside current flexible pipe qualification scope and imposes severe engineering challenges to both rigid and flexible pipe technologies.A. The abstract must contain conspicuous acknowledgment of OTC copyright. Dodds. has recently embarked on a development program to qualify flexible pipe with an internal diameter of greater than seven inches for ultra-deepwater applications. This design approach allows the pipe system properties to be tailored to yield the optimal result for any application conditions. Texas. To begin. For a flexible pipe solution. Offshore Technology Conference This paper was prepared for presentation at the Offshore Technology Conference held in Houston. A discussion of the proposed conceptual design will follow with some design and analysis predictions from the first few months of the program. and finally a field trial. Jha. The concept consists of an optimally engineered combination of well-understood and mature metallic and composite reinforcing layer technologies. General Electric. The program is based on a novel hybrid flexible riser technology that will be developed and qualified by a combination of design. To address those needs. The approach offers potential performance advantages including reduced risk on critical end fitting technology. This design approach allows the pipe system properties to be tailored to yield the optimal result for any application conditions. The approach offers performance advantages including reduced risk on critical end fitting technology. Summary of the Design Requirements. To address those needs.OTC 24160 Qualification of Flexible Fiber-Reinforced Pipe for 10. and an overview of the plan for pipe qualification will be discussed. Electronic reproduction. Anderson and M. its officers. GE Global Research. Latto. an overview of the requirements and conventional pipe technology will be presented. the combination of greater than 2000 m operation depth and high design pressures (>10. distribution. The material does not necessarily reflect any position of the Offshore Technology Conference. material and subcomponent testing and finally. with the support of RPSEA. reduction of sheath leakage by fusing together the reinforcement and liner. and a reduced layer count leading to easier inspection. Vermilyea. or storage of any part of this paper without the written consent of the Offshore Technology Conference is prohibited. Contents of the paper have not been reviewed by the Offshore Technology Conference and are subject to correction by the author(s). Permission to reproduce in print is restricted to an abstract of not more than 300 words.

2 OTC 24160 Table 1. Each layer has a specific function as listed in Figure 1. In summary these challenges result in a system that although technically feasible. The resulting benefit is an overall lower pipe weight and decreased need for auxiliary equipment. For ultra-deepwater applications several lengths would likely be joined together because flexible pipes are delivered in continuous lengths defined by the delivery reel size or by a carousel equipped vessel. Internal diameter 17. which would compromise reliability. and tensile armor to carry axial tension and pressure endcap loading. related to the typical lifting capacity of 300 tons. There exist two commercialized technologies that are potentially capable. such as buoyancy modules. A typical construction is shown in Figure 1. the pipe wall thickness necessary to support the collapse loads is significant and drives the overall pipe system weight to infeasible levels. design pressure and service requirements. Secondly. Unbonded flexible pipes are individually designed to the required field specification by selecting qualified materials for the service environment and optimizing the layer geometry and dimensions. safety and system cost. at 3000 m the pipe weight and collapse loads are simply too large. The first potential solution would be to use conventional rigid metal piping typically applied as a steel catenary riser (SCR) or a top tensioned vertical riser system. a modular approach for ultra-deepwater applications is necessary to achieve a dynamically stable system riser or flowline configuration and installation strategy. The rigid nature of the pipe would also require many short lengths of pipe to be connected on site. where the metallic layers include: a carcass for collapse resistance. for the design requirements presented in Table 1.8 cm (7 inch) minimum Water depth 3000 m (10. The primary challenge is that despite the ability to optimize the layers. flexible pipe technology has several advantages. interlocked pressure armor for internal pressure resistance. Lastly. This conventional modular approach is the basis for current flexible pipe design and enables custom solutions tailored to operational requirements to be delivered.000 psi) Working temperature maximum 120 C (250 F) Design life 25 years Corrosive service Sour gas Existing Technology and Technology Gaps. the installation logistics are simplified and the system costs reduced. yet unqualified.000 ft) Design pressure 827 bar (12. Compared to rigid pipe. it is at the expense of overall system and installation cost. a large number of buoyancy modules would need to be applied to the overall structure and would drive increased cost. Design requirements for the RPSEA program. Cutaway schematic indicating the multi-layer construction of conventional un-bonded flexible pipe designs. Though the concept can be designed at relatively large diameters (>7 inches) to meet the working depth. Typical reel capacity is approximately 1000 m. Conventional unbonded flexible pipe designs are a multi-layer construction based upon a thermoplastic pipe liner reinforced with metallic materials. because a continuous length of pipe (approximately 1000 m at 7 inches) can be deployed from a standard reel. In order to achieve a solution. The second potential technology is unbonded flexible pipe. to support sour service lower strength alloys are required. Because the directional strength can be tailored by changing the design of the individual layers. . Despite those advantages. thus increasing the pipe weight per length and additional buoyancy requirements. would require an unrealistic amount of material and deployment cost. At depth. Figure 1. the tensile or collapse strengths can be optimized to achieve a lower mass per unit length. Additionally. there exist several significant challenges for conventional flexible unbonded pipe.

and using composite materials here to reduce the weight enables the top section to be manufactured from conventional design. The metallic armor layers have the additional advantage of imparting impact protection to the composite layer. with axial reinforcement provided by torsionally balanced (e. During the barrier extrusion production process. at the high design pressures required for these applications the irregular surface of the carcass and pressure armor can cause further complications with the integrity of the barrier layer. though it does not need as many buoyancy modules. The right side of the figure shows the new proposed GE hybrid technology. Composite reinforcement would be used selectively as a function of depth. either an anti-extrusion layer to bridge the gaps or a sacrificial extrusion to prevent localized creep of the barrier. The top section may then be relatively heavy to improve stability close to the vessel and in dynamic water conditions.000 ft) water depths. Optimization of the fiber winding angles and metallic tensile wire angles enables control over the dynamic properties of the pipe and the proportions of composite to metallic materials the tailoring of the mass per unit length to design for a stable installed configuration. For example. These extra layers inherently add extra cost to the manufacturing process and by creating new interfaces within the structure can also present more complex problems in management of the permeated gases in the pipe annulus over the pipe design life. as the external surface of the barrier is reinforced by an unbonded but interlocked hoop layer. The end-fitting design and processes form an integral part of the pipe system and are addressed in parallel with the development of the composite layers. whereas the top section could be optimized for tension. and the mid-section designed to transition between them. Such a preferred solution is shown in Figure 2. an unbonded flexible pipe would still incur significant deployment and materials costs due to the auxiliary measures required to compensate for the pipe weight. Figure 2. . The approach being pursued comprises a hybrid composite/metal design as a means by which the properties of the flexible pipe system can be tailored. The combined liner and hoop resistant composite layer act as a thick cylinder with high ring stiffness under external hydrostatic loading but retain bending flexibility due to the transverse stiffness of the unidirectional continuous fiber composite making up the outer layer. enabling designs to range from fully composite to fully metallic reinforcement. the deep water section would be designed to be collapse resistant. ±40°) metallic tensile wires. conventional design involves applying another functional layer. where both the collapse and hoop reinforcement of the pipe are provided by an optimized thermoplastic composite layer fused to the thermoplastic liner. The proposed hybrid approach also enables the ability to produce a multi-section pipe assembly. It is envisaged that this approach can help ensure the attainment of pipe strings capable of 3000 m (10. with each section having different design features allowing for local tailoring and optimization of properties. The left side of the figure is a cutaway of a conventional flexible riser pipe. it will likely remain economically infeasible due to the system and deployment costs required to achieve those solutions. Accordingly. causing stress concentrations under static and dynamic operation resulting in potential crack initiation sites. Conventional designs avoid this by applying an additional sacrificial layer such as a tape or extrusion to present a flat substrate surface to the barrier extrusion. Similarly.OTC 24160 3 and have pushed designs using current material technologies to their limits. This approach introduces composite layers to the existing modular design toolbox. though it may be feasible to meet the technical requirements of the pipe technology using either rigid metal or flexible unbonded pipe. As previously. notches are formed due to the flow of the molten polymer into the undulations of the surface of the internal carcass. there is always a small gap which again is problematic on pressurization due to thermoplastic liner creep under the applied triaxial stress. Designs with a combination of metallic and composite reinforcing layers with application-specific properties will result in the most desirable performance characteristics.. In summary. Secondly. Proposed Approach. With the hybrid design approach the conventional endfitting design for anchoring the metallic axial reinforcement remains unchanged and only minimal modifications are required to secure the composite hoop layer. Using this concept.g. only the section of the riser operated in deep water is required to be highly collapse resistant.

An illustration of the stresses induced through chemical swelling is presented in Figure 3. For both four armor designs. For a two armor layer design the angle is steeper to provide some hoop support to the pressure armor whereas a more shallow angle can be used with an equivalent section but stronger composite pressure armor. tension offshore 1200 2000 6000 6000 hydrotest (kN) Max. Carbon fiber was chosen as it is chemically inert in the environments of interest and not susceptible to environmental stress corrosion mechanisms. An example of the distribution of predicted hoop stresses in the liner and bonded reinforcement layer due to chemical swelling of the polymer components. The significant conclusion of these calculations is that the allowable free-hanging weight for each design under field Factory Acceptance Test (FAT) loading conditions can be dramatically improved when composite materials are introduced. The effect of including fibers has been analysed using a chemical approach based upon an extended Sanchez-Lacombe Equation of State as a guide to optimizing the chemical/mechanical ageing test program. The result for self-supported length indicates that a hybrid design enables a free-hanging catenary configuration which can exceed the target depth capability of 3000m. The bonded thermoplastic composite concept is based upon the same chemistry as currently qualified thermoplastic materials so the chemical resistance and ageing is already largely understood and quantified for the matrix material of the composite.4 OTC 24160 To illustrate the achievable weight savings and subsequent effect on pipe system properties of a hybrid design. Figure 3. The limiting tensions for combined pressure and pipe mass loadings are shown for the offshore hydrotest and operational load cases. Predictions of permeation. Table 2 summarizes preliminary calculations for two conventional designs. Concept Design and Analysis Chemical Resistance. similar angles were found in this simple analysis. . swelling and plasticization have been made and the resultant chemical resistance and mechanical response quantified including theoretical investigation into the susceptibility of the composite materials to rapid gas depressurization. Table 2. Estimates of the self- supported length possible with these conceptual designs are given in the final row of the table by dividing the tensile capacity of the offshore hydrotest load case by the mass per unit length of the seawater-filled pipe. Conventional design (2 Hybrid design (composite Conventional design (4 Hybrid design armor + carcass) hoop and carcass armor + carcass) (composite hoop and combined + 2 armor) carcass combined + 4 armor) Mass/length empty in air 255 172 350 236 (kg/m) Mass/length seawater 200 135 275 185 (kg/m) Max. due to reduced weight and increased axial load carrying capability of the novel hybrid design. Pipe weights and top tensile loads for four concept designs. each with its hybrid alternative where the carcass and pressure armor are replaced by a bonded thermoplastic composite. calculated with the utilizations defined by API 17J. tension operation (kN) 1900 2600 6400 6400 Calculated self-supported 600 1480 2180 3240 length (m) The ratio of hoop to axial loading in the tensile layer was optimized to meet the design conditions by changing the angles.

The API standard for flexible pipe requires evaluation of burst. such as tape lay or filament winding. The design procedure for the composite pipe layer involves adjusting the variables listed below to achieve the required performance characteristics for the design envelope. collapse and bending properties from the prototype design stage. Optimization of fiber angle and structure. which requires with the use of a metallic carcass and metallic tensile wires. 2. The bonded composite layer is designed based upon the required pipe size and loading conditions. Development of an appropriate manufacturing method. Bending: Generally composite design philosophy is geared towards designing for stiffness using thermoset composite materials (influenced by the aerospace and automotive sectors). and consolidation method. Testing requires simulation of the actual boundary conditions that individual layers experience in the test pipe geometry. Burst performance: In designing a functional layer for pure hoop performance fiber angles close to 90° are the natural choice by orienting the load bearing fibers in the loading direction. This design concept differs from the conventional reinforced pipe design where the reinforcement layer is balanced to react to all of the loading components of the internal pressure and pipe weight. or for both tensile and compressive hoop stress.OTC 24160 5 Burst. 1.. collapse and manufacturing capability. Currently an experimental and analytical approach to understanding the underlying failure mechanism is being pursued under a broader program. Again. 3. the functional hoop layer must also be optimised for bending. finite element modeling aids in capturing some of the effects of end termination in the tests as illustrated in Error! Reference source not found. For example. these conditions could be either for tensile hoop stress only. Simulation of the structural bending behavior presents considerable challenges including viscoelasticity and non-linear material behaviour. Fatigue and environmental conditions. 4. Compromise made to design based on manufacturing method and geometry. Finite element analysis model showing end effects under burst loading conditions. Analytical models have been constructed and combined with testing to optimise the balance between hoop. with bulk or focused heating/melting can affect the bending performance remarkably. However. For example reinforcement is commonly arranged as ±55° as optimum for a 1:2 ratio of axial to hoop load in a layer. Figure 4. . Optimization of fiber and matrix combination. Adoption of a thermoplastic matrix composite enables high stiffness in the fiber direction combined with matrix influenced flexibility in the transverse direction. the composite layer is designed with regard to bending to produce a suitable flexible pipe by optimizing the composite lay angles and adjusting the volume fraction of fiber. This approach introduces the advantages of the composite layer optimised by combining with the available ‘toolbox’ of qualified metallic functional layers. which utilises the inherent collapse resistance of the composite layer in a smoothbore design. based on field conditions under consideration. illustration of the four-point bend tests and finite element modeling simulations are presented in Figure 5. but it considerably enhances the understanding of failure mechanisms and interactions between the pipe layers. bending and collapse response for the composite layer and the interactions with the metallic tensile and/or collapse layers in the full pipe structure. Collapse and Bending Analysis.

combined with testing within the confines of the application design envelope has been carried out to define the cross-over point of pipe diameter versus water depth where a smoothbore design is appropriate or if a metallic carcass roughbore design becomes necessary. Specifically. A further design effort to develop various structured wall designs and new materials combinations is underway with the aim of improving this boundary and providing smoothbore designs at larger diameter in deeper water. .6 OTC 24160 Figure 5. the pipe performance and pressure holding capability are not affected by the first or second order motions from floating unit offset variation and dynamic movement. Collapse resistance becomes critical as the diameter of the pipe structure is increased. Flexible pipe riser systems are ideally suited to link subsea infrastructure to floating production units due to their ability to accommodate large deflections. Figure 6. Again. For example typical configurations consist of the free-hanging. Section of composite pipe (left (actual) and finite element analysis right) under bending loading. Work to date suggests that the failure criteria change with increasing D/t (diameter/thickness) ratio and can vary from material compressive failure to failure under buckling (compressive or tensile). Some illustrations of the pipe buckling phenomena as predicted by the analyses and demonstrated during testing are presented in Figure 6. Flexible riser systems also permit wide variation in configuration to meet the very different field and site conditions. or wave and current loading. among others. modelling. Collapse: The collapse behavior of the bonded hoop layer is the most challenging but also most valuable aspect of the design as it enables a smoothbore pipe for deep water applications. Selection of composite pipe (actual and FE) under collapse loading Global Analysis. Typically deep water and spread moored floating production facilities prefer free-hanging catenary designs (Figure 7a) whereas more shallow and turret moored facilities tend to favor lazy wave configuration (Figure 7b) for their ability to compensate for increased system compliance and higher dynamics. The preference deciding factors for the riser configuration’s cost and complexity relate to the system compliance and the system control. For the concept of simply increasing the thickness of the composite layer this approach has defined the design boundaries. lazy and steep wave configurations.

Images depicting the free-hanging catenary and the lazy wave configurations. and the third case is where only the metallic pressure armor is replaced with a composite armor bonded to the barrier. UK) on three configurations capable of 3000 m operation. the second pipe configuration is of a pipe with an integrated composite carcass and pressure armor. Ulverston. . Accordingly. Because the present approach includes a liner or barrier that is fully bonded to the composite pressure armor.OTC 24160 7 (a) (b) Figure 7. Results of the global analysis for the three configurations. the axially oriented tensile wires are anchored in an epoxy casting that is mechanically captured by the end fitting forgings. The end-fitting design and processes form an integral part of the pipe system and are addressed in parallel with the development of the composite layers. a global analysis of a 3000 m free-hanging catenary design was performed and illustrated in Figure 8. As with conventional flexible pipe technology. For the case where a metallic carcass is not required the endfitting is actually a simplified version of a conventional fitting with fewer component parts.1 109 2267 Composite pressure armor 8 12. End-Fitting. the top tension requirements of the latter two cases would allow for significantly smaller infrastructure and lower cost. there is also no need for interlayer venting. To illustrate this point. In addition. only a small mass penalty exists for the third case where the carcass is retained. Table 3. Although there tends to be a preference for the free-hanging catenary design for deep water applications.. Schematic drawing of the three pipe designs and site conditions analyzed using the Orcaflex design software.2 291 7427 Composite carcass & pressure armor 8 12. As the figures demonstrate. which simplifies the end fitting integration. The analysis was performed using the commercial software package Orcaflex (Orcina Ltd. With the hybrid design approach being pursued in this program the conventional endfitting design for anchoring the metallic axial reinforcement remains unchanged and only minimal modifications are required to secure the composite hoop layer. the feasibility of conventional flexible riser designs decreases as the depth increases due to the aforementioned top tension limitations. A cross-sectional view of a conventional end fitting design is presented in Figure 9. the mass of the pipe is dramatically decreased for the latter two configurations. The first configuration is a conventional flexible riser with four tensile armor layers. ID (inch) OD (inch) Mass (kg/m) Top end tension (kN) Conventional 8 14.3 130 2911 Figure 8.

Testing has also commenced to isolate the critical defect size and develop inline non-destructive test to detect and repair flaws. Cross-sectional view of a conventional end fitting integrated with the axial tensile wires inside the epoxy casting. An illustration of the heat transfer characteristics from hot gas jets is shown in Figure 11. mid-scale testing to fully qualify the concept. Figure 10. Since the proposed technology leverages both conventional metallic and new composite technologies. testing and qualification will be in accordance with API 17B [3] and 17J [4]. As discussed by Rytter [2]. A simple tape placement head is sufficient due to the single curvature and constant in-layer angle requirements. (Courtesy Surface Generation Ltd.8 OTC 24160 Figure 9. These will include laboratory scale tests on constituent materials. a significant challenge for qualification of a composite pipe of this or similar design is that there remains no complete set of approved standards. Thermal modeling of the tape consolidation process. The manufacturing concept for the bonded thermoplastic layer is a development of the thermoplastic pre-preg tape winding technology developed by Vetco Gray [1] as shown in Figure 10. for flexible unbonded pipe with metallic armor layers. for the metallic tensile and carcass layers of the current concept. because the proposed concept utilizes a . The process has been applied to several thermoplastic materials and further optimised to minimize the thermal energy applied to the structure while maintaining full consolidation. for the composite pressure armor guidance will be sought from the draft of the recommended qualification requirements for composite layers in ISO 13628-11/API 17B. In particular. Alternatively. Though there exists the potential for conflicting requirements. a combination of test standards may be required in lieu of a single complete standard. Figure 11. Original Vetco-Gray machine configuration. and the relevant prototype tests on full-cross-section pipe lengths. Manufacturing Concept.) Qualification Program A rigorous test program will be required to reduce the risks associated with the innovations included in this program.

The approach offers performance advantages including reduced risk on critical end fitting technology.Recommended Practice for Unbonded Flexible Pipe. Vancouver. 2004. analysis. ’Composite Catenary Riser’. manages the program under a contract with the U.rpsea.OTC 24160 9 barrier/liner that is fully bonded to the composite armour layer.org) is a nonprofit corporation whose mission is to provide a stewardship role in ensuring the focused research. Lars Slagsvold and Ole A. Det Norske Veritas. The concept consists of an optimally engineered combination of well-understood and mature metallic and composite reinforcing layer technologies. Canada. University of Houston CEAC 2000.Specification for Unbonded Flexible Pipe. 2008. 3.Recommended Practice: Composite Risers.S.S. API 17J . modular unbonded flexible pipe design tools. American Petroleum Institute. has recently embarked on a development program to qualify flexible pipe with an internal diameter of greater than seven inches for ultra-deepwater applications. RPSEA (www. superior matrix chemical resistance by using proven thermoplastic materials.S. and independent research organizations. Fourth Edition. reduction of sheath leakage by fusing together the reinforcement and liner. development and deployment of safe and environmentally responsible technology that can effectively deliver hydrocarbons from domestic resources to the citizens of the United States. Det Norske Veritas. energy research universities. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory. References 1. a field trial. authorized by the U. guidance will also be sought from the standard DNV-RP-F202 [5] for bonded composite risers and DNV-OS-501 [6] for composite components. Acknowledgements Funding for this project is provided by Research Partnership to Secure Energy for America (RPSEA) through the “Ultra- Deepwater and Unconventional Natural Gas and Other Petroleum Resources” program. This approach expands the scope for the pipe system properties to be tailored to yield the optimal products for wider application conditions. The program is based on a novel hybrid flexible riser technology that will be developed and qualified by a combination of design. DNV-RP-F202 . Gryt. Proceedings of the 23rd International Conference on Offshore Mechanics and Arctic Engineering (OMAE2004). 2008 4. operating as a consortium of premier U. Conclusion General Electric. API 17B .Offshore Standard: Composite Components. 5. industry. October 2010 6. material and subcomponent testing and finally. Energy Policy Act of 2005. Effectively a new layer type has been added to the mature. ’Qualification Approach to Unbonded Flexible Pipes with Fibre Reinforced Armour Layer’. RPSEA. October 2010 . American Petroleum Institute. This paper details the conceptual design being pursued to meet the program objectives as well as the initial plans for qualification. Third Edition. July 1. 2. with the support of RPSEA. July 1. and a reduced layer count leading to easier inspection. DNV-OS-501 . Composite Materials for Offshore Operations – 3.