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OTC 15274

Bombax Pipeline Project: Anti-Corrosion and Concrete Weight Coating of Large

Diameter Subsea Pipelines
John. La Fontaine - Champlain Group, Inc.; Derek Smith - JP Kenny Inc; Gary Deason - Bredero Price; Gary Adams - BP

Copyright 2003, Offshore Technology Conference

bscfd, the Kapok Project and the Bombax Project. The Kapok
This paper was prepared for presentation at the 2003 Offshore Technology Conference held in Project comprises a new 2.6 BCFPD production platform,
Houston, Texas, U.S.A., 5–8 May 2003.
Cassia ‘B’ that is bridge connected to the existing Cassia ‘A’
This paper was selected for presentation by an OTC Program Committee following review of
information contained in an abstract submitted by the author(s). Contents of the paper, as
platform and a new drilling platform Kapok. The Bombax
presented, have not been reviewed by the Offshore Technology Conference and are subject to Pipeline Project includes 63 km of 48-inch offshore pipeline
correction by the author(s). The material, as presented, does not necessarily reflect any
position of the Offshore Technology Conference or its officers. Electronic reproduction, from Cassia ‘B’ to landfall at Rustville, on the East Coast of
distribution, or storage of any part of this paper for commercial purposes without the written
consent of the Offshore Technology Conference is prohibited. Permission to reproduce in print
Trinidad. From the landfall, the pipeline extends 1.8 km
is restricted to an abstract of not more than 300 words; illustrations may not be copied. The onshore to the existing Beachfield slug catcher and production
abstract must contain conspicuous acknowledgment of where and by whom the paper was
presented. facility for onward transportation of gas to the various
industries on the island including the LNG facilities on the
West Coast. The offshore end of the 48-inch pipeline is
connected to the existing 40-inch pipeline via a 20-inch subsea
The BP Bombax Pipeline Project in Trinidad involved the
jumper. This jumper facilitates looping of approximately
design and installation of a 48-inch diameter subsea gas trunk
2/3’s of the existing 40-inch pipeline thereby expanding the
line. This line is the largest subsea pipeline operated by BP in
transportation system capacity.
the world. The immense scale of this pipeline and associated
Additional gas production to meet the growing industrial
appurtenances provided many design and construction
demand will be supported by a new wellhead platform located
challenges, among these was the selection and application of
at the Kapok field along with continued development of
the anti-corrosion and concrete weight coating systems.
existing fields. The Kapok platform is linked to the Cassia ‘B’
Compounding this challenge was the requirement that the
production hub by a 26-inch multi-phase pipeline installed as
system have a design life of 50 years.
part of the Bombax Pipeline Project. Due to the development
Coatings are the primary method of protecting the external
schedule, the Kapok platform will be ready for production
surface of metallic structures from the corrosive effects of
before the Cassia ‘B’ hub topsides are available. To allow
seawater and sediment. Typically the coating system is
Kapok to produce early gas, it is intended to carry out
supplemented by a cathodic protection system.
separation on Kapok with the test separator and transport
Concrete weight coating is commonly employed on large
liquids via a new 6-inch line to the existing 12-inch liquids
diameter pipelines to increase on-bottom stability. A number
line. The 12-inch liquid line transports liquids to shore from
of concrete coating application methods were evaluated and
BP’s existing platforms originating from the Mahogany
two such methods were employed. Wire reinforcement is
platform. Tie-in to the existing 12-inch liquid line is via a pre-
required within the concrete to minimize spalling. Due to the
existing subsea hot-tap tee. The Kapok separated gas is then
unprecedented size of the main trunkline, common re-
transported via the 26-inch line to the subsea manifold and
enforcement practices were analyzed to ensure success.
into the 48-inch pipeline for transportation to the Beachfield
Bonding between the concrete weight coating and the
facility via an early gas jumper on the manifold. Figure 1
corrosion coatings is of paramount concern on large subsea
provides a layout of the new Bombax development and the
pipelines to prevent slippage due to the high lay-tensions
existing pipelines.
imposed on the pipeline during installation. In order to select
To satisfy the requirements for the Cassia B platform
the optimal system, several bonding methods were tested for
safety, a check valve for the 48-inch export pipeline, and an
use on the project.
SSIV for the incoming 26-inch line from Kapok are required.
Additionally, the project required the installation of an
actuated valve in the 20-inch line looping the 40 and 48-inch
In response to the increasing demand for energy in the
pipeline to enable isolation of the large gas inventories in
form of natural gas, BP Trinidad and Tobago has started
these lines if needed. In light of the complexity required to
expanding its offshore fields and gas transportation system to
meet the project requirements, it was decided to accommodate
supply new LNG trains at Point Fortin on the West side of
the valving and piping within a single manifold structure.
Trinidad as well as the increased local domestic market.
Also in line with the project’s objective to maximize the use of
There are two projects currently underway to expand
local content, the manifold was constructed in Trinidad. Add
production and transportation of gas from 1.5 bscfd to 3.0
2 OTC 15274

to this individual 48-inch, 26-inch and 20-inch tie-in spools of A summary of the comparison is shown in Table 1.
up to 300 feet long and 270 tons, collectively Bombax
presented an interesting and challenging project. Fusion Coal
Coating System Bonded Tar
Epoxy Epoxy
Thickness (minimum) 0.012” 0.200” 0.200”
Rough Coat Thickness Not Not
(minimum) Required Required
Service Temperature
90-C 80-C 65-C
Cathodic Disbondment
Excellent Good Good
Flexibility Good Good Good
Impact Resistance Good Excellent Excellent
Asia &
Availability Worldwide Asia
HSE Good Fair Fair
Table 1
Comparison of Anti-Corrosion Coatings

The Bombax Coating System. Coating systems for large

Figure 1 diameter subsea pipelines in general must be thick enough to
Bombax Field Layout provide a diffusion barrier to oxidants, tough enough to
withstand pipe movement and handling, and withstand the
Anti-Corrosion Coating rigors of the CWC application process. Industry practice has
Requirements. The project team selected the pipeline shown that FBE applied to a 0.014-inch (± 0.002-inch)
anti-corrosion coating system based on several criteria. First thickness will provide a sound anti-corrosion barrier.
among all requirements was that any system utilized for this However, this thickness is not sufficient to withstand
project, coating or other, must meet the highest standards from application of CWC by the impingement method. When
a health, safety, and environmental (HSE) standpoint. The concrete is impinged, it impacts the anti-corrosion coating at
system must also be capable of providing high levels of high velocity. In order to achieve the toughness required to
corrosion protection for the life of the field. This requirement withstand this process, FBE must be applied to a minimum
was of particular concern given the 50-year design life thickness of 0.026-inches. This requirement was confirmed
required for the pipeline. The system must also be compatible by stripping the CWC from several pipe-joints which had been
with the concrete weight coating. coated with 0.026-inches of FBE. Once stripped, the FBE
Options. Pipelines in general rely on a system of coatings coating was inspected for holidays both visually and by
as the primary defense against external corrosion. These voltage indication (jeeping)(1), to ensure that the coating had
coating systems are coal tar enamel (CTE), asphalt enamel satisfactorily withstood the CWC application. It was found
(AE) and fusion bonded epoxy (FBE). The type of coating that there was no damage to the FBE coating. CWC applied
available varies between the different geographical regions of using the wrap method does not require additional FBE
the world. For example, FBE is more commonly used in thickness beyond that required to achieve an
North America and AE is used in the UK. CTE is still offered anti-corrosion barrier.
in Asia. Each of these systems was considered for use as the In addition, it was determined that the FBE anti-corrosion
primary coating system for the Bombax pipelines. The coating must be augmented with a rough overcoat in order to
evaluation was based on HSE, performance, economics, and achieve the required shear strength between the CWC and
availability criteria. FBE. Rough coat powder is a modification of the FBE anti-
Comparison. Due to the surface profile and adhesion corrosion coating powder. The rough coat FBE powder
characteristics with respect to concrete, both CTE and AE contains larger particulates, which provide an anchor profile
require little, if any, modifications to achieve a high strength upon fusing to the anti-corrosion layer. A rough coat
bond with the concrete weight coating (CWC). Both CTE and thickness of 0.003-inches (minimum) was utilized for the
AE are more flexible than FBE and have a greater impact Bombax pipelines.
resistance. AE and CTE also provide a secondary thermal Typically pipe coatings are terminated a short distance
insulation capability resulting from the greatly increased from the pipe bevel, this is commonly referred to as the “cut-
coating thickness of these systems compared to FBE. CTE back”. Industry practice usually requires a minimum cutback
and AE cost approximately 10 to 20% less, respectively, than of 2-inches. However, certain CWC plants manipulate pipe on
FBE on a surface area basis. However, FBE has superior rollers on each end of the joint. In the case of the Bombax
adhesion characteristics in comparison to both CTE and AE, impingement plants these rollers had a width of 8-inches.
which is a crucial factor in light of the long design life Coated pipe with a 2-inch cutback would suffer end damage
requirement. CTE and AE plants were not available in the and require repair when contacted by these rollers. As a
USA or Trinidad at the time of the evaluation. As a result of result, it was determined that the FBE coating should be cut
the evaluation, FBE was selected for the Bombax pipelines. back a minimum of 8.5-inches to avoid such damage.
OTC 15274 3

Production. FBE application of line pipe is a highly properties of the pipe. Bombax utilized a combination of heat
automated process. Bombax pipe coating requirements were sticks and infrared cameras to monitor surface temperature.
based on industry standards including NACE RP 394(2). The After passing through the induction coils the pipe travels
coating process begins by load-in of the pipe into the plant. At immediately into the coating booth. The coating booth
the load-in rack, a coupling is inserted and secured in the I.D. contains the application nozzles for both the anti-corrosion
bore of the lead end of each pipe prior to being indexed onto coating and rough coat. The FBE powder is applied within
the cleaning line conveyor. The coupling serves two this booth utilizing an electrostatic spray (Figure 4).
purposes: 1) Protects the pipe ends from potential mechanical
damage that may be caused during the process of the pipe
being conveyed down the cleaning line. 2) Prevents the pipe
ends from sagging while the pipe travels through the cleaning
process (Shot Blasters). The pipe surface is also inspected for
salt contamination and other defects such as end and body
wall damage. The pipe is then conveyed down the cleaning
line where a system of solid rubber tires, positioned with a
slight pitch so as the pipe rotates it travels in a forward
motion. Here the pipe is pre-heated to remove surface
moisture, blast cleaned, acid washed, rinsed then blasted again
to SSPC 10 / ISO 2.5 surface profile (0.002 to 0.004-inch).
After the final blast the pipe is indexed into a mid-rack station
where the surface of the pipe can be checked for defects Figure 4
(Figure 2). Electrostatic Spray

After coating the pipe continues into a quench line where

the pipe is inundated with water. The pipe is then indexed to
the out-bound rack where it receives a final inspection, prior to
transport to the concrete coating plants (Figure 5).

Figure 2
Mid-Rack area of FBE Plant
If significant defects are found the pipe can be indexed
back to the load-in stage for re-blasting. After the mid-rack
inspection, the pipe is then indexed onto the coating line,
which begins with a series of induction coils (Figure 3).

Figure 5
FBE Out-Bound Rack Inspection

Special considerations should be made when FBE coating

large diameter heavy wall pipe. The Bombax 48-inch
diameter by 1-inch wall thickness pipe weighed 18,000lbs,
without concrete. Pipe of this size is an order of magnitude
heavier than most pipe that is coated in automated coating
mills. In the case of Bombax, the FBE plant set up time took
several days longer than usual. Among the items that require
change over are the cleaning line and coating line conveyors,
the induction coils, and the FBE booth, which requires many
more application nozzles to coat large diameter than smaller
Figure 3
diameter pipe. Change over times should be considered for
Induction Coils
large diameter pipe if schedule is an issue, particularly if the
The induction coils raise the surface of the steel to between
mill must be changed several times to coat other size pipe.
450 and 500°F. It is critical that proper controls are instituted
Large diameter DSAW pipe have large crowns on the
to ensure the pipe surface is not over heated. Temperatures of
longitudinal seams, which can “shadow” the adjacent pipe
greater than 525°F can adversely affect the mechanical
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when passing through the blast booth. Bombax pipe suffered

slightly from this phenomenon, however the problem was
quickly remedied by making adjustments to the blasting booth.

Concrete Weight Coating

Background. A significant step in the engineering process
of subsea pipelines is to ensure the line will have sufficient on-
bottom stability. The stability of the pipeline is a function of
several factors including the magnitude of the ocean waves
and currents and the negative buoyancy of the pipeline. Large
diameter lines displace a large volume of water, which results
in increased buoyancy and their large surface area creates
inherent stability problems. There are several ways to remedy
this problem. One option is to increase weight by increasing
the wall thickness of the pipe. However, this is often not an
attractive option from a commercial perspective. The optimal Figure 6
solution involves having enough steel wall thickness for Wrapping Concrete Weight Coating
pressure containment, internal corrosion allowance, and
installation stresses, then coating the pipe with concrete to After the pipe is coated it is indexed to the final inspection
provide the additional mass that is required for stability. rack where the concrete is cut back from the ends, O.D.
Application Methods. Concrete weight coating can be measurements are taken and the pipe joint is weighed. The
applied by casting, wrapping or impingement. The casting information is then documented per unique pipe number and
method involves placing the wire reinforcement and a mould entered into a computerized program where the negative
around the pipe, then pouring the concrete into the annulus. buoyancy of each pipe is verified. Pipe joints requiring anode
Vibrating the assembly ensures the mix is distributed properly. installation are then moved to the cut out saw, where the
The mold is removed after the concrete has cured sufficiently. concrete coating is cut away in preparation for anodes.
The curing process is then progressed using a wrap membrane, Impingement application of concrete is also a semi-
or by periodically applying water, until the threshold automated process. Unlike the wrap method, end rings are
compressive strength is achieved. Casting of CWC is most installed onto the pipe ends on the inbound rack. The purpose
frequently used for short spans, such as river crossings; of the endrings is to establish the concrete coating cutback at
however for large quantities of pipe this method is impractical. the pipe ends as well as a means of anchoring the wire
The wrap method is used extensively for subsea pipelines. reinforcement to the pipe in order to commence the
Wrapping or "compression" plants are semi-automated. The application process. The pipe is then placed onto a rotation
pipe joint travels through the plant on a conveyer that buggy, where it is supported on an eight inch surface at the
comprises of a system of gearboxes and solid rubber tire, pipe ends. The rotation buggy is utilized for roating the pipe
positioned with a slight pitch so as the pipe rotates it travels in while traveling past the throwing unit applicator. Once the
a forward motion through the plant and past the concrete pipe has been placed on to the rotation buggy it is maneuvered
coating applicator. As the pipe rotates and travels past the infront on the throwing unit. The wire is secured and the pipe
concrete applicator, the cement, aggregate and water is being then begins to rotate while moving past the throwing unit
continuously mixed inside a pugmill mixer and fed onto a applicator (Figure 7).
conveyor feed belt into the applicator hopper onto an
applicator belt. Between the concrete mix and the applicator
belt is the wire mesh reinforcement and outer plastic wrap that
will act as the curing membrane. The mix, wire mesh
reinforcement and membrane are wrapped around the pipe
simultaneously as it travels past the coating applicator
(Figure 6).

Figure 7
Impingement Method of Applying Concrete
OTC 15274 5

Concrete coating applied by the impinged method is of the pipeline mid-depth to 5-inches on the shore approach
thrown onto the pipe surface by a set of turning vulcanized sections. The 26-inch diameter pipe would require 3-Inches of
rollers. Cement, aggregate and water are continuously mixed CWC and 4-inches on the spoolpieces. Due to diameter
inside a pugmill mixer and fed onto a conveyor feed belt. The restrictions of wrap/compression plants, all of the 48-inch
conveyor feed belt supplies the throwing unit with a CWC pipe except for the thin wall pipe with 3.75-inch CWC
continuous supply of concrete mix the mix impinges upon the was coated utilizing the impingement method. The remainder,
surfaces of the pipe at high velocity (approximately 40 m/sec). including all of the 26-inch diameter pipe was coated using the
After the pipe is coated and weighed, it is placed into a curing wrap method. Cores were taken from the CWC to verify the
area where water is introduced onto the coating until the strength and quality throughout production. Compressive
specified compressive strengths of the concrete coating have strength minimums are required to ensure integrity of the
been achieved. The endrings are removed, and wire is weight coat not just during installation, but also for handling
trimmed from the edges and anodes. Anodes are installed within the coating yard. The concrete was required to reach a
prior to applying the CWC (during the coating process a shield compressive strength of 3500psi after 7-days and 5300psi after
is placed between the throwing unit and anode to prevent 28-Days. The quality of the concrete was very good and as a
coating the anode). result it easily achieved these minimums (Figure 8).
Both impinged and wrap concrete often requires touch up
repair, and infill in the gaps surrounding the anodes. This is
accomplished using gunnite. Gunnite is a mortar type 8000

Compressive Strength
compound, which is pneumatically blown out of the end of a 7000

pump hose onto the substrate. While the concrete is wet, it 6000

can be trimmed with a trowel or shovel. A summary


comparison between the Wrap and Impingement methods is 4000

shown in Table 2. 3000

Wrap /
Method Impingement
Compression 1000

FBE thickness Required 0.012-Inches 0.026-Inch 0

0 4 8 12 16 20 24 28
Method of Curing Membrane Water Days
Pipe Sizes Up to 48-Inch All Sizes Figure 8
Availability Common in N. Worldwide Bombax concrete weight coating compressive strength
America increase vs. time
Wire Reinforcement Per BS 8010 Per BS 8010
Anode Attachment After CWC Before CWC Wire reinforcement within the CWC is required to increase
Table 2 strength in tension. The term “reinforcement” is perhaps a
Comparison of Concrete Weight Coating Methods misnomer. It is technically not possible to reinforce the
concrete, as any true reinforcement would have to be stronger
Shear Tests. In order to achieve the required shear than the pipe. The true purpose of the wire is in fact to keep
strength between the CWC and the FBE coating, several the CWC on the pipe. The CWC will crack when the pipe
bonding systems were evaluated. The systems were, rough traverses the stinger and is laid on-bottom. The wire mesh
coat alone bonding the concrete to the FBE coat, and rough allows the cracking to occur cicumferentially in an acceptable
coat with a bonding adhesive applied in 3-inch bands covering manner, while securing the CWC on the pipe. The Bombax
50% of the pipe surface. The purpose of the test was to ensure wire reinforcement requirements were based on BS 8010 Part
the shear strength of the bond between the CWC and FBE 3 Section 9(3). This requirement specifies that the wire
would withstand the large tensions that the 48-inch pipe would reinforcement cover 0.08% (minimum) and 0.4% (minimum)
endure during installation. The test was performed by pushing of both the longitudinal and transverse surface areas of the
the CWC coat utilizing four 100 metric ton hydraulic jacks. CWC, respectively. In addition, a second layer of wire was
A magnetic dial gauge is attached to the pipe and the probe utilized for coating thicknesses of over 80mm as required by
touches the area under the CWC such that any movement of this standard. The wire reinforcement utilized for the Bombax
the concrete can be detected. The results of the test were coating was a welded, galvanized, wire mesh. The wire mesh
dramatic. Slippage of the concrete on the pipe without was crimped in the longitudinal direction. This feature allows
adhesive initiated at a force of 25 metric tonnes. The pipe the mesh to flex when the pipe undergoes bending.
with adhesive withstood a force 150 metric tonnes without Anodes. The anti-corrosion coatings of subsea and
slippage. This force exceeds the highest single tensioner onshore pipelines are supplemented by cathodic protection
available on modern lay vessels. As a result of this test (CP). Subsea pipeline CP is most commonly provided by
adhesive was applied to the rough coat FBE during the CWC sacrificial anode bracelet systems. Bombax utilized the largest
application process. Aluminum-Zinc-Indium anode bracelets in the world, the
Bombax Requirments. The on-bottom stability analysis largest of which weighed approximately 950lbs (Figure 9).
of the Bombax 48-Inch trunkline revealed it would require a
range of CWC thickness of between 3.75-inch on the majority
6 OTC 15274

HDPU foam provides a flush transition between CWC

surfaces. HDPU foam can achieve adequate compressive
strength (300psi minimum) in only a few seconds. The
combination PE sleeve/HDPU infill system has several
advantages. First, the cycle time on the system even on large
diameter pipe is only a few minutes, quicker even than mastic
systems. Second, this system eliminates steel sleeves and
banding which unless handled properly can cause cuts and
other such wounds to laborers.
Performance Results. The critical stage for the concrete
weight coating and field joint system is installation. The
movement of the pipe over the stinger and on to the seafloor is
the most mechanically demanding. The concrete weight
coating system performed exceptionally well during
installation, suffering virtually no mechanical damage. The
Figure 9 same can be said for the field joint infill system, which
48-Inch Diameter provided the strength to smoothly traverse the rollers in
Al-Zn-In anode bracelet on fit-up jig in foundry all cases.
Field Joints
Background. Offshore pipelines are typically installed in Conclusions
coastal waters by reeling or by conventional S-lay methods. The Bombax pipeline system, which included one of the
Reeling of pipe has many advantages due mainly to the speed largest subsea gas pipelines in the world, successfully
of the lay process, which results from the pipeline being employed a system of coatings that provided both corrosion
welded and reeled up onshore. However, this method is protection and on-bottom stability. The system included up to
limited to smaller diameter pipe that meets certain yield-to- 5-inches of concrete weight coating over a coating of FBE. A
tensile strength ratio and diameter-to-wall thickness ratio bonding system of rough coat FBE and adhesive ensured that
criteria. Most large diameter pipe and all CWC pipe must be the concrete did not slip from the pipe while the pipe was in
assembled offshore. As such, the majority of the girth welds tension. The field joints were successfully coated with FBE
must be made on the lay vessel. Such was the case with the overwhich high-density polyurethane foam was injected to
Bombax Pipelines. Pipe installed in this manner requires that allow the pipe to smoothly traverse the lay vessel rollers. The
the field joints be coated on the lay vessel after welding of entire system was successfully applied while upholding the
the joints. highest health, safety and environmental standards of the
Options. Field joints of FBE coated pipe can be coated operator and society.
offshore using heat-shrink sleeves, liquid epoxy or FBE.
Heat-shrink sleeves can be installed with relative speed and References
with a minimum of labor. However, it is difficult to apply 1. NACE Recommended Practice 490
heat in a uniform manner to sleeves on large diameter pipe. 2. NACE Recommended Practice 394
This often results in sags and voids beneath the sleeve. Liquid 3. BS 8010 Part III Section 9
epoxies can be installed using a roller or spray method. From
a quality and performance perspective, FBE is the best coating Tables
for these field joints. FBE is compatible with the parent Table 1. Anti-Corrosion Coating Systems
coating, and has superior adhesion and abrasion resistance. Table 2. Concrete Weight Coating Application Methods
For these reasons FBE was selected as the coating for the
Bombax Field Joints. Figures
Field Joint Infill. As the pipe exits the lay vessel onto the Figure 1. Bombax Field Layout
stinger, it is supported on rollers. In order to smoothly Figure 2. Mid-Rack of FBE Plant
traverse the rollers, the field joint cavity on CWC pipe must be Figure 3. Induction Coils
modified to match the outer diameter of the CWC. Until Figure 4. Electrostatic Spray
recently, the most common method involved strapping a steel Figure 5. FBE Outbound Rack Inspection
sleeve around the field joint using steel banding and clips, then Figure 6. Wrapping Concrete Weight Coating
filling the annulus with a hot mastic. Two decades ago, Figure 7. Impingement of Concrete
polyurethane (PU) foam compounds were introduced as an Figure 8. Compressive Strength of Concrete Weight
alternative to hot mastic. Most recently, PU foam system was Coating vs. Time
improved by the introduction of polyethylene (PE) sleeves to Figure 9. Al-Zn-In anode bracelet on fit-up jig in
replace the use of banded steel sheets. The sleeve is secured foundry
around the pipe by electric fusion welding. Once the sleeve is
inplace the high-density PU (HDPU) foam is injected into the
annulus where it quickly cures. This was the system used for
the Bombax Field Joints. The combination PE sleeve with