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Hydrocarbon Pipelines


Transportation of liquids by pipelines has been used for thousands of years. The first major
exploitation and commercialization using pipelines started 150 years ago, and the building of
long distance, large diameter pipelines was pioneered in the 1940,s. Today’s pipeline industry
has originated from the oil business that brought considerable amount of profit to the energy
producers and pipeline operators. In addition to be one of the most environment-friendly and
the safest means for oil and natural gas transportation, pipelines have integrated in the
components of national security.

Pipelines are lifelines of the global oil/gas industry, providing most convenient, eco-friendly,
efficient and economical mode of transportation for oil and natural gas from upstream
production to downstream refineries, power station, industries, domestic consumers and
markets, crossing nations, oceans and continents. Pipelines are underground highways which
may involve higher cost initially but in the longer run pipelines provide the most economic,
safe and reliable means to transport products from one place to another place compared to
rail, road and marine transportations.

Types of pipelines

Pipelines can be broadly bifurcated into two types based on location of installation i.e.

Onshore Pipelines

• It covers all inland cross country pipelines which are not in offshore areas.
• It includes the main pipelines, spur lines and feeder lines, crossings/other features route,
associated dispatch terminals, sectionalizing valve station, compressor stations, pump
stations, intermediate terminals and receiving terminal facilities.
• The upstream and downstream handling storage and process facilities are excluded
from the scope of onshore pipeline systems.
• Offshore (Submarine) Pipeline

• It covers all pipelines in offshore areas beyond the line of ordinary high water,
along that portion of the coast that is in direct contact with the open seas and
beyond the line marking the seaward limit of inland coastal waters.
• It includes trunk lines, inter-field/ inter platform lines, lines from offshore terminal
to Land Fall Point, crossings/ other features en-route, associated risers, subsea
PLEMs, subsea isolation valves (SSIV)/ laterals and termination at land fall point as
applicable. The upstream and downstream facilities at terminal ends are excluded
from the scope of offshore pipelines.

Different Stages of Pipeline Project

Any pipeline system involves following different stages:

1. Design & Engineering

2. Installation, testing and commissioning
3. Operation and Maintenance
1. Design and Engineering

The design & engineering stage of the pipeline can be fragmented broadly into four major

1. Conceptualization

1. Establishment of preliminary requirements

2. Identification of inlet location (Dispatch Station) and outlet location (Receiving
3. Evaluation of alternatives
4. Finalization of the concept

2. Feasibility Study

1. Desktop study and preliminary selection of pipeline route

2. Development of schematic based on Pipeline facilities, Intermediate Station
3. Route Engineering and Route Reconnaissance by walking along the pipeline route
4. Study of alternate routes
5. Development of Equipment Layout
6. Preliminary Wall thickness for pipeline
7. Stress Analysis
8. Hydraulic Studies & Optimization
9. Establishment of tentative Project Cost
10. Project Implementation Scheme
11. Environmental Impact Assessment & Risk Analysis, if required
12. Complete MTO of Pipeline System including stations

3. Basic Engineering

1. Route Finalization - Surveys & Investigations

2. Process Design & Pipeline Sizing
3. Optimization Studies
4. Preparation of Basic Engineering Design Basis
5. Preliminary Selection of Pipes Parameters, such as Wall Thickness, Material &
Grade, corrosion protection and type of coating requirement etc.
6. Preparation of Route Maps, Layouts, Location Plan, Indicative Scope Drawings etc.
7. Development of Implementation Schedule

4. Detailed Engineering

1. Preparation of Engineering Design Basis

2. Route Engineering
3. Engineering Analyses and Report

For Onshore Pipelines

– Wall Thickness Analysis
– Elastic Bend Radius Analysis
– Stability Analysis for Water Bodies/ Marshy Areas
– Horizontal directional drilling design
– Railroad/ Highway Crossing Analysis
– Casing Pipe Analysis for Crossings
– Seismic Design
For Offshore (Submarine) Pipelines
– Wall Thickness Analysis
– On-bottom Stability
– Free Span Analysis
– Global Buckling Analysis – Lateral and Upheaval
– Pipeline Expansion Analysis
– Pipeline Crossing Analysis

4. Preparation of Job Specifications & Job Standards

5. Engineering for Procurement for long lead items such as:

– Scraper traps
– Valves
– Insulating joints
– Long radius bends
– Flow tees etc.
– Assorted Pipes
– Flanges and Fittings
– Line pipes & coatings

6. Preparation of Installation Tender

7. Preparation of Drawings for Construction such as:
For Onshore Pipelines
– Alignment Sheets
– Equipment Layouts
– Crossing Drawings (such as rivers, highways, railroads, existing pipelines etc.)
– GADs (general arrangement drawings) for Terminals etc.
– Station Approach Drawings
For Offshore (Submarine) Pipelines
– Alignment Sheets
– Overall Field Layout
– Riser Location Drawings
– Riser General Arrangement Drawings
– Clamps Drawings
– Pipeline Crossing Drawings
– PLEM/ Subsea lateral/ Tie-in Spool detail drawings
– Platform Approach Drawings

8. Review of Installation Engineering and Procedures

2. Installation and Testing

Following activities are required to be carried out for construction of onshore pipelines:

1. Topographical survey & soil investigation

• Pegging
• Bench Marking
• Pipeline Centerline marking
• Profile
• Crossing identification such as water bodies, railway lines, roads etc.

2. RoU Clearing and Grading

• Staking
• Monument Fencing
• Identification of position of detours
• Grading of access roads by dozer
3. Trenching

• Trenching by excavator
• Separation of arable soil in fertile land
• Trenching by blasting / rock breaker in rocky area
• Protection of underground facilities

4. Stringing

• Pipe Handling and Transportation on trailers at site

• Pipe placement on sand bags/ wooden blocks

5. Cold Field Bending

• Classification of location for bend installation

• Bend Radius (R), equals to

– 40D (For pipe dia. 18” & above)

– 30D (For pipe dia. less than 18”) [Allow Pigs to pass through un-impeded]
6. Field Welding

• Weld procedure qualification

• Welder qualification
• Fit-up & pre-heating
• Root pass
• Hot pass
• Filling passes
• Capping

7. Non Destructive Testing

• Visual inspection
• 100 % NDT by following

– X-Ray
– Automatic Ultrasonic Testing (AUT)

8. Field Joint Coating

• Procedure qualification
• Sand Blasting
• Pre-heating
• Application of primer
• Application of heat shrink sleeves
• Post-heating

9. Lowering

• Trench inspection
• Pre-padding
• Holiday testing
• Lowering
• Cover check

10. Backfilling

• OFC installation
• Post-padding
• Installation of warning mat
• Backfilling
• Crowning
11. Hydrostatic Testing

• Air cleaning
• Gauging and Pigging
• Water-filling
• Thermal stabilization
• Pressure holding
• Acceptance

12. Pre-commissioning & Commissioning

• De-watering
• Swabbing
• Drying
• Nitrogen/ Inert gas purging
• Fluid charging

Comparison between piping and pipeline

This article is intended to throw light on the differences between pipeline engineering and
piping engineering, which are important organs of any engineering firm active in oil and gas
sector. Pipeline and piping engineering do not only sound similar but share a lot of common
activities. Both the engineering department belong to mechanical disciplines and deals
primarily with pipes. Various codes have defined the battery limits for pipeline and piping
activities, however, there has always been a contest between Pipeline and piping disciplines
regarding the division of scope in various types of projects. Therefore we have tried to
highlight the differences between both the engineering disciplines for onshore systems and
offshore systems separately.

Onshore System

S. Onshore Pipeline Onshore Piping


1 Design Codes

• ASME B31.4 : Pipeline • ASME B31.3 : Process Piping

Transportation Systems for
Liquids and Slurries

• ASME B31.8 : Gas Transmission

and Distribution Piping

2 Scope

Outside plant boundary Within plant boundary

Cross-country (i.e. villages, fields, river, (upto all nozzles/ equipment terminal
canal, railway, highway, cities, deserts, points)
forests, hills, ghats etc.)

3 Type of pipe

Line pipes as per following code: Assorted pipes as per following code:

• API Spec 5L: Specification for • ASTMs

Line Pipes • BS
• API 5L

4 Valves
Valves are procured as per following Valves are procured as per following code:

• BS
• API Standard
• API 6D: Specification for
Full bore (FB) and Reduced bore (RB) both
Pipeline and Piping Valves
types of valves are used as per respective
valve standards. There is no requirement
Full Bore (FB) Ball Valves are used for for pigging.
smooth passage of pigs.

5 Welding

Welding code: Welding code:

• API Std. 1104: Welding of • ASME Sec. IX: Standard for Welding
Pipelines and Related Facilities and Brazing Procedures, Welders,
Brazers and Welding and Brazing
Type of welding:
Automatic / Semi-Automatic/ Manual Type of welding:
Manual (mostly)

6 Weld joint inspection (NDT requirements)

100% by Automatic UT or RT (by 5% to 100% (mostly by using gamma ray

using X-Ray) source)

7 Analyses

- Wall Thickness Analysis - Piping wall thickness calculation [as input

- Elastic Bend Radius Analysis to Piping Material Specification (PMS)]
- Stability Analysis for Water Bodies/ - Piping Stress Analysis (by Caesar II).
Marshy Areas Following analyses are performed on
- Horizontal directional drilling design CAESAR II
analysis • Static Analysis
- Railroad/ Highway Crossing Analysis • Dynamic Analysis
- Casing Pipe Analysis for Crossings • Wind Analysis
- Seismic Analysis • Flange Leakage Analysis
• Seismic Analysis

8 Installation

Buried (mostly) Above ground/ On rack/ slippers/ T-postal


9 Special Installations

Across rivers Special fabrication methods:

• Horizontal Directional Drilling • Modular installations

(HDD) method • Finning
• Micro-tunneling method • Studding
• Jacketing
Across road/ rail/ highway • Spooling inside warehouse
• U/G piping for cooling water
• Auger boring/ jacking boring
• Shallow HDD

Ghats/ Hills – Special equipments


10 Special Equipments

• Sectionalizing Valves (Remote • Expansion Joints

operated) • Motor Operator Valves (MOV)
• Insulating Joints • Cryogenic Valves
• Scraper Launcher/ Receiver • Springs
• Stem Extended Valves (for
buried valves)
• Flow Tee
• Long Radius bends (R=6D)
• Cold field bends (R = 30D or

11 Survey

• Topographical Survey (all • Wind profile from meteorology

along the pipeline route) • Seismic study of plot
• Geotechnical investigation (all
along the pipeline route)
• Soil resistivity survey (all along
the pipeline route)
• Hydrological Survey for water
bodies (for scour depth
• Cadastral Survey (for RoU

12 Corrosion Protection Coating

• Painting

• Three Layer Polyethylene

(3LPE) coating
• Three Layer Polypropylene
(3LPP) coating
• Fusion bonded epoxy (FBE)
• Coal tar enamel (CTE) Coating

13 Cathodic Protection System

• Impressed Current Cathodic • Not applicable

Protection (ICCP) system
• Sacrificial Anode (limited
14 Hydrostatic testing

Gauge Plate run of 95% of ID of No gauge plate run is done. Generally

highest thickness of pipes card-board blasting is done to clean the
Test Pressure
Minimum: Test Pressure

• 1.25 times of Design Pressure

(for liquid pipelines) • 1.5 × Design Pressure ×
• 1.25 to 1.5 times of Design Temperature Factor
Pressure (for gas pipelines)

• based on line schedule

• Pressure equivalent to Hoop
stress of 95% of SMYS of pipe Hold period: 2 - 6 hours

Hold period: 24 hours (generally)

Selection of hydrostatic test section

based on elevation difference of
ground profile

15 Preservation

Preservation of pipeline with Not applicable

corrosion inhibited water or by filling
of inert gas (N2)

16 Communication System

Telecom/ SCADA Not applicable

17 Pigging

Intelligent Pigging Not applicable

18 Machines/ Equipments required for installation

• Trencher • Crane/ Hydra

• Backhoe/ Excavator
• Side Boom
• Cold field bending machine
• Holiday Detection Machines
• Pneumatic/ Hydraulic Internal

Introduction to Line Pipes

A pipeline traverses through various diverse locations which are difficult to approach during
regular operation. For the construction of the pipeline enormous chunk of land is temporarily
acquired by the Pipeline Operator from the land owners. Once the pipeline is buried, land is
returned to the owners for their use such as agriculture etc. which limits the accessibility to
the pipeline in due course of time. Therefore, pipelines are required to be constructed such
that it requires minimal human interference during operation and ensures high level of safety
& integrity throughout its design life. The onus to fulfill such high quality and reliability
standard rests on the first building block of any pipeline i.e. line pipes.

Line pipes are defined as welded or seamless pipes, available with the ends plain, beveled,
grooved, cold expanded, flanged, or threaded; used for the construction of pipelines principally
used to convey gas, oil or water (ref 1). The pipeline fraternity often faces a question that what
is so special about line pipes? Why piping pipes (pipes used for station piping such as ASTM
A106) can’t be used for the construction of pipelines? So this article is focused on the essentials
of line pipes for resisting the design loads which a pipeline system has to accomplish for safe

1. Line pipes govern the project quality, fabrication/ installation schedule and most
importantly project capital expenditure CAPEX.
2. Line pipes shall be capable to resist weathering during storage, transportation (through
places where no motor-able roads are available) and during service.
3. Line pipe shall be capable of being laid i.e. it shall be capable to bear installation stresses
without any plastic deformations or deformations within the tolerance range.
4. Pipeline girth welding is performed on field, which implies, welding under uncontrolled
and extreme conditions. So line pipes metallurgical properties, end tolerances etc. shall be
capable of tolerating the limitations of field welding by a Laying Contractor. Also, the
mechanical and chemical properties shall be such that the girth weld retains its reliability
in as-built condition throughout design life of the pipeline.
5. Line pipes shall also have inherently high crack propagation resistance or resistance to
ductile fracture propagation to control damage in case any crack is initiated in high
strength line pipes.

In a pipeline system, apparently it appears that line pipes procurement constitutes 30-45%
(may vary depending upon project) of the project cost, but all other spending (except RoU
acquisition cost) such as transportation & logistics, installation schedule, installation cost and
overall quality & reliability of the pipeline system is indirectly dependent upon the selection of
line pipe.

Types of line pipes

Based on the fabrication processes, generally following types of line pipes are being used in
hydrocarbon pipeline system.
Process of manufacture Size Yield Strength
inches (mm) psi (MPa)

Seamless (SMLS) 4.5 (114.3) to 16 35500 (245) to

(406.4) 70300 (485)

High Frequency Welded (HFW) 4.5 (114.3) to 20 35500 (245) to

(508.0) 70300 (485)

Submerged Arc Longitudinal (SAWL) 16 (406.4) to 56 35500 (245) to

Welded (1422) 80500 (555)

Submerged Arc Helical (SAWH) 18 (457.0) to 56 35500 (245) to

Welded (1422) 80500 (555)

International Line Pipe Specifications

API Spec 5L: Specification for Line Pipe

DNV-OS-F101: Offshore Pipeline Systems
ISO 3183: Petroleum and natural gas industries - Steel pipe for pipeline transportation systems
CSA Z245.1: Canadian Standard – Line Pipes
GOST 10704: Russian Standard - Steel Pipe

Although there are various international line pipe specifications, conventionally every Company
procures line pipes as per their own specifications. These company specs are generally
modification of international specifications mostly API Spec 5L.

Chemistry control

Chemical composition has a profound effect on the microstructure, mechanical properties, and
weldability and corrosion resistance of modern line pipe steels. Predominant material for line
pipes is C-Mn Steel or Carbon steel. The material for modern line pipes is high strength low
alloy (HSLA) steel. The evolution of this special class of steels can be traced back to 1959 when
the first X-52 micro-alloyed, or so called high strength low alloy (HSLA) steel was installed in
North America. Prior to that line pipe was produced from steels strengthened by carbon and
manganese which exhibited very poor weldability and fracture resistance. Strengthening by
micro-alloying with niobium and vanadium, in amounts often much less than 0.10 percent
allowed the required strengths to be achieved at lower carbon contents which improved both
weldability and notch toughness.

Killed Steel: The Steel used for manufacture of pipe shall be fully killed and fine grained. Killed
steel means fully de-oxidized steel. Liquid steels contain dissolved oxygen after their
conversion from molten iron, but the solubility of oxygen in steel decreases with temperature.
As steel cools, excess oxygen can cause blowholes or precipitate as FeO. These blow holes also
results in formation of laminations during steel rolling process. Thus, steel shall be killed/ de-
oxidized by using Silicon (Si) and/ or Aluminum (Al) or Titanium (Ti) etc.

Fine grained: Fine grained structure of steel increases the strength of the pipe i.e. closer the
grain structure, more is the strain resistance. Therefore steel used for line pipe fabrication are
fine grained with ASTM grain size number 7 or finer as per ASTM E 112.

Concast Steel: Steel shall be made by continuous casting only to achieve improved yield,
quality, productivity and cost efficiency.
Carbon (C)
The microstructure of line pipe steels in grades up to at least X-65 (446 MPa) consists of ferrite
and pearlite. Carbon increases the volume fraction of pearlite and thereby strength, however,
during welding, the carbon dissolves in the matrix and produces hard brittle microstructures in
the region adjacent to the weld bead (the so called heat affected zone or HAZ)). The HAZ may
crack immediately, or after some time (delayed cracking) depending on hardness and on the
amount of hydrogen introduced by the welding consumable(s).

Manganese (Mn)

It is always advantageous to keep Mn in the vicinity of 1.4% in order to control the

hardenability of the base line pipe material. Again Mn should always be considered along with
other materials for overall effect, 1.4% Mn max., has been found to be ensuring adequate
strength and toughness whole limiting to the hardenablity to acceptale level, without effecting
any other properties of the line pipe.
High Mn leads to centerline segregation?

Manganese combines with sulfur (S) which eliminates hot shortness (low ductility due to the
formation of iron sulfides at high temperature) but the benefit comes at a price. Manganese
sulfide (MnS) is very plastic at rolling temperatures, compared with the hot steel itself, and it
elongates to produce inclusion stringers which introduce directionality (anisotropy) into the
skelp, such that testing transverse to the rolling direction (generally circumferential direction)
results in much reduced, generally unacceptable, ductility and notch toughness (low Charpy
energy values).

Silicon (Si)
In a similar way to manganese (Mn), chromium (Cr), nickel (Ni), copper (Cu), and molybdenum
(Mo), silicon (Si) provide modest strength increases through solid solution hardening. However
silicon is a ferrite stabilizer which tends to raise the γ → α transformation temperature, and
stimulate the formation of proeutectoid ferrite which works counter to the beneficial effects of
the other solid solution hardening elements in facilitating ferrite grain refinement.

Silicon's principal role is as a deoxidizer. When used in combination with aluminum it

eliminates the oxygen introduced into the steel during the steelmaking and refining process
thereby preventing carbon monoxide formation and resulting porosity during solidification.

Copper (Cu)
Cu is one element which is considered desirable in the steel as it imparts better atmospheric
corrosion resistance during the period between its production and installation. In case of sour
service P/L, it is known to improve the corrosion resistance properties in certain ranges.
However, excessive Cu is known to promote hot shortness leading to fine crack development
along the grain boundaries during processing of the steel or during welding. Therefore, taking
into account the possibility of segregation also, Cu is limited to 0.35%, when it is intentionally
added. For critical sour service application the range recommended is 0.2 to 0.35% & for non-
sour services 0.35% (max.), without insisting on the minimum.

Chromium (Cr)
Cr is an element which increases hardness and carbon equivalent (CE) without substantially
increasing the corrosion resistance when present in small quantities. In order to control the
hardness of heat affected zone and weld in the as welded condition, such as in case of pipeline,
limiting the Cr to 0.2% max. is an appropriate and desirable step that ensures desirable
properties in the weld metal. Increasing the Cr content will also affect yield to tensile ratio
which needs to be controlled during pipelaying. Chemistry control is required to improve
surface quality & corrosion resistance, and ensure consistent micro-structure, mechanical
properties and adequate separation between yield strength and tensile strength.

Dimensional Properties
Wall thickness
The primary description of any pipe always includes wall thickness of the pipe along with
diameter and material grade. Tonnage of the line pipes is directly proportional to the square of
wall thickness. Selection of wall thickness is dependent upon the internal and external loads
which it has to sustain throughout its design life. Internal loads include hoop’s stress due to
internal pressure of the pipeline and external load includes:

• Dead loads such earth load (if pipeline is buried), external water pressure (if pipeline is in
offshore or water body).
• Cyclic load such as truck wheel loading, railway loading (if pipeline is laid across
highways, rail lines), and wave & current loading (in offshore etc.).
• Axial/ longitudinal loading such as expansion loads (due to temperature difference),
residual laying stresses etc.
• Transportation and storage stresses etc.

Various international design codes such as ASME B31 codes, DNV-OS-F101, API RP 1111, ISO
13623 etc. and local regulations are available which specifies the requirements for wall
thickness selection. It is the onus of the pipeline designer to specify the pipe wall thickness
such that negative fabrication tolerance is also included or considered in the specified

Note: If you are calculating as per ASME B31 codes and selecting the line pipe spec as per ASME
B31 such as API Spec 5L, then there is no requirement for including the negative fabrication
tolerance in the specified wall thicknesses as ASME B31 codes includes the same.

Out-of-roundness is generally defined as the difference between the maximum (or minimum
diameter) and the nominal diameter, expressed as a percentage of the nominal diameter. In
DNV-OS-F101 and ISO 3162, out-of-roundness is defined as the difference between the
maximum and minimum diameters, expressed as a percentage of the nominal diameter. Out-
of-roundness of pipe affects two most important aspects of line pipe i.e.:

• Resistance to collapse: Capability of pipe to resist circumferential external loads is

inversely proportional to out-of-roundness i.e. more round the pipe is, more will be its
capability to resist collapse under external pressure. For offshore application of pipes,
external hydrostatic pressure may become governing and poor out-of-roundness of
pipe may lead to selection of higher wall thickness line pipes. Therefore, out-of-
roundness tolerance of pipes to be utilized for offshore application shall be kept
minimal in order to optimize on wall thickness.
• Girth Welding: Pipes are required to be welded at their ends circumferentially for the
construction of pipeline called girth welding. For high quality girth weld, it is desirable to
have a properly aligned pipe ends and high-low to be kept at minimum. Control on
misalignment becomes critical with the increase in diameter of the line pipes.
Misalignment during welding of large diameter line pipe may cause in-service leaks and
ruptures at pressures well below 72 percent specified minimum yield strength (SMYS)

Decrease in number of girth welds during project execution is not only beneficial in reducing
the construction time but also reduces the risk of loss of integrity due to failure/ leakage of
girth weld during operation. Decrease in the number of girth welds can be achieved by
utilization of longer pipes. However, length of pipe is restricted for the ease of line pipe
handling during production in the mill as well as transportation & handling during execution at
site. Drawing the balance between the two an average length of pipe as 12.0 m (along with
some tolerance in the quantity and variation length) is a common practice in pipeline projects.
About the Large Diameter Pipelines Onshore
Pipelines are not just a mode of fuel transportation but they are an identity which traverses the
length and width of geographical spans, impacting the live of flora and fauna of the area it
traverses. So it becomes utmost responsibility of pipeline fraternity to analyze each and every
aspect of pipeline design and to lay the pipeline in such a manner which results in congenial
development, without affecting the delicate balance established by Mother Nature.

Increasing energy demand requires transportation of huge quantity of POL to meet the
mammoth requirements of refineries, petrochemical complexes, city gas networks etc. Also,
with the increasing difficulties in acquisition of land for pipeline installation, large diameter
pipelines are becoming only viable option.

As per the industrial practice and for this article, pipelines with size 36” (910 mm) and above
are considered as large diameter pipelines. Large diameter not only eases the operators
from meeting the current as well as future requirement but also saves them from the repeat
exercise of installation of multiple pipelines. Owing to the large diameter, frictional loses are
comparatively less which aids in placing pumping/ compressor stations at a larger interval.
Also, CP currents travels longer distances on large diameter pipelines which further reduces the
requirement of land for CP stations.
Coming to the management of large diameter pipelines, which is utmost challenging as any
spillage or leak in large diameter pipeline can result in catastrophic damages to the nearby
area due to large quantity of POL into it. Therefore, large diameter pipelines necessitate highly
sensitive pipeline control systems and pipeline safety system. Close monitoring of the pipeline
transporting such huge quantity of explosives material no longer remain as the responsibility
of the operator only but also integrate in the components of national security.

Installing large diameter pipelines comes with many challenges which shall be analyzed
prudently against its benefits. This article presents insight into the aspects that shall be given
consideration during conceptualization, design & engineering, installation and operation of
large diameter pipeline.

Challenges in Pipeline Routing

Selection of large diameter pipeline route shall be straighter and shall avoid steep bends
&undulations. Large diameter pipelines require higher turning radius for bending the pipe at
the turning points, thus at the location of bends wider ROU is required to install the pipeline.
Acquisition of ROU is one of the main challenges which oil marketing companies (OMCs) are
facing these days. The challenges of requirement of wider ROU and land required at crossing
location shall be pragmatically analyzed right at the stage of conceptual study and feasibility
study of pipeline.

Degree of bend angle which can be fabricated by cold field bending machine reduces with
increase in diameter. Therefore, for same turning angle of the pipeline route, large diameter
pipeline may require more number of cold field bend as compared to smaller diameter pipe.
Angle of bend which can be achieved from a typical double random length of pipe reduces
with increase in the diameter of pipeline e.g.

• 610 mm (24”) size pipe of length 12 meter can be bent to 12o - 14o, whereas
• 1210 mm (48”) pipe of length 12 meter can be bent to 6o - 7o only.

This also results in requirement for fabrication of higher numbers of hot induction bends which
impacts the installation cost and time.

Challenges in Pipeline Design

Large diameter pipeline necessitates the requirement for fabrication of thick-walled pipes:-

• to limit D/t ratio within 100, as well as

• for sustaining the internal pressure (Barlow’s Formula)
Susceptibility of pipe towards flattening, ovality, buckling and denting increases with rise in D/t
ratio (> 100), decreased wall thickness, decreased yield strength, and combinations thereof.
Therefore, pipe, having a D/t ratio less than 100, shall be utilized for large diameter pipelines.

With the increasing diameter, the requirements for tighter dimensional tolerances of the line
pipes such as pipe ovality, pipe ends tolerance, straightness, and wall thickness tolerances etc.
increases exponentially. It is required to ensure that pipe will not only install with ease but also
maintain its durability against all types of loads predicted to be sustained during its operation.
Therefore, tremendous efforts are required from line pipe manufacturers to produce the high
quality line pipes within specified time.
During conceptualization of large diameter pipeline a study for optimal utilization of pipeline
shall be based on a “Break-even Analysis” of capital gain (due to increased overall throughput)
compared with increased capital investment (due to increased tonnage).

Challenges in Pipe Handling, Stacking & Transportation

Line pipes are required to be transported to site or storage yard from pipe mill after
production. The high capacity equipment are required for handling and hauling of large
diameter pipes. Transportation of pipes becomes challenging owing to the high weight and
volume of large diameter pipes. The number of tiers of pipe during transportation is governed
by following criteria:

• Stacking load and stress generated in the line pipes during transportation
• Stacking height of the pipes within the storage height of barge/ rail wagon/ trailer
• Weight carrying capacity of the barge/ rail wagon/ trailer
Pipe transportation on Trailer

Diameter of Pipe Number of Tiers Number of Pipe

1422 mm (56”) 1 1

1219 mm (48”) 2 3

910 mm (36”) 2 4

610 mm (24”) 3 12

Due to this, more number of rail wagons/ trailers are required for transportation of pipe, thus
increasing the pipe transportation time and cost.

Challenges in Installation

Mainline Welding:

Welding is the backbone of pipeline installation activity and high quality welding is extremely
important for ensuring high integrity and safe functioning of pipeline. As already explained
above, large diameter pipelines are also thick walled pipes. Consequently the weld “Inch Meter”
is high and more number of welding passes (e.g. root pass, hot pass, filler pass and capping)
are required for girth welding of pipes on field. This results in high welding time and thus
increased chances of welding defects. Therefore, to mitigate these challenges, semi-
automatic or automatic welding is preferred for large diameter pipelines.

The results of a typical welding time study show the following results:

Number of Welds per Day

Pipe Size (NPS)

Automatic Semi-automatic
Welding Welding*

910 mm (36”) 45 25

1219 mm (48”) 35 20

1422 mm (56”) 20 8

* Root pass is performed by manual welding process.

Requirement of High Capacity Equipment:

With the advancement of technology in oil & gas exploration and refining facilities are set up
in most remote locations. Consequently the pipeline is also required to be laid in challenging
geographical terrains such as hilly areas, swampy stretches, forests etc. Installation of large
diameter pipes requires excavation of deeper and wider trenches along with backfilling of the
same. Therefore heavy earth moving equipment such as excavator, backhoes etc. are required.
Deeper and wider trenches calls for additional safety measures such as sheet piling, shoring &
strutting by wooden planks for preventing the collapse of trench sides on the personnel
working in the trench

Pipeline installation requires high capacity pipe laying equipment such as:

• For 36” pipeline - Sideboom of 40-60 metric ton is required

• For 48” pipeline - Sideboom of 60-90 metric ton is required
• For 56” pipeline - Sideboom of 100-120 metric ton is required

Pipeline Crossings:

Cross country pipelines traverses various uncharted locations and crosses various utilities like
water body, railway line, roads etc. Pipeline crossing methodologies such as open-cut, jacking-
boring, micro-tunneling, horizontal drilling etc. are selected depending upon the length of the
crossing, sub-soil (geo-tech) properties and ensuring minimal impact on environment.
In case of large diameter pipelines, crossings become more complex, especially in the case of
trenchless methods. In case of pipeline crossing by trenchless technique, the chances of hole
collapse increases as a larger hole needs to be drilled for pipe crossing. Crossing section
becomes vulnerable to hole collapse due to longer drilling time and larger hole diameter
required for pipe crossing. In the case of pipeline crossing by Horizontal Directional Drilling
methodology, following challenges are faced:

• With increase in pipe diameter, pulling force required to pull the pipe also increases due
to increase in upwards buoyancy force on the pipe. Therefore, generally pipe of
diameter larger than 30” is pulled in water filled condition (partially filled/ fully filled/
pipe-in-pipe). These methods require a higher degree of expertise for execution.
• High capacity Maxi-rigs are required for large diameter crossings.
• Large diameter hole requires high capacity of mud pumps for maintaining the whole
pressure and removal of cuttings from the hole.
• The overall cost of HDD crossing is also exponentially proportional to the pipe diameter.
A typical HDD of 1000 meter for 24” pipe costs $1.2 million (approx.), whereas same
HDD with 48” pipe will cost $3 million (approx.).
Challenges in Hydrostatic testing, pre-commissioning and commissioning

After mechanical completion of pipeline installation activities, pipeline is hydrostatically tested

to check leak tightness and strength of the pipeline before commissioning. Hydro test requires
pipeline to be completely filled and pressurize with water. Humongous quantity of water is
required for performing hydrostatic testing of large diameter pipeline. Therefore, sources of
water shall be classified during routing of the pipeline and pipeline sections shall be prepared
such that water source is near the filling point. Filling of the pipeline by supply of water other
than natural source near pipeline may have high cost implication. During hydro testing, water is
dosed with corrosion inhibitor to prevent internal corrosion of the pipeline. Corrosion
inhibitors pose threat to environment and shall be disposed-off properly. Arranging for
disposal of such large quantity of corrosion inhibited water is a challenging task.


In this article we have elaborated upon some challenges which are faced by pipeline industry
during the implementation of large diameter pipelines. While deciding the pipe line diameter,
apart from the flow assurance study and the throughput requirement, due considerations shall
be given to engineering, installation and operational aspects. Direct and indirect challenges
associated with implementation of large diameter pipelines may vary from project to project.
This article is intended to provide a basic insight only. Strong coordinated efforts shall be made
by operators, designers, pipeline component manufacturers and government authorities/
regulatory bodies for implementation of large diameter pipeline projects and meet the
astronomically growing requirements of the expanding world.
About Horizontal Directional Drilling Article


Horizontal directional drilling (HDD) is a steerable trenchless method of installing underground

pipelines in a shallow arc along a prescribed bore path by using a surface-launched drilling rig,
with minimal impact on the surrounding area. Directional boring is used when trenching or
excavating is not practical. The tools and techniques used in the HDD process are an
outgrowth of the oil well drilling industry.

The components of a horizontal drilling rig used for pipeline construction are similar to those
of an oil well drilling rig with the major exception being that a horizontal drilling rig is
equipped with an inclined ramp as opposed to a vertical mast. HDD pilot hole operations are
not unlike those involved in drilling a directional oil well. Drill pipe and downhole tools are
generally interchangeable and drilling fluid is used throughout the operation to transport
drilled spoil, reduce friction, stabilize the drilled hole, etc. Because of these similarities, the
process is generally referred to as drilling as opposed to boring.

The horizontal directional drilling process represents a significant improvement over traditional
trenching & backfill methods for installing pipelines beneath obstructions, such as rivers or
shorelines, which warrant specialized construction attention.

Stages in HDD

Installation of a pipeline string by HDD is generally accomplished in following six stages:

• Geo-technical Investigation
• Drill path design
• Pilot hole drilling
• Boring/ reaming operation
• Preparation of pipe string
• Pipe pull-back

HDD crossing of pipeline primarily consists of drilling a small diameter pilot hole (≈ 6 inch to 8
inch) along the drilling path and then enlarging/ reaming the pilot hole up to a diameter which
can facilitate the pipe string pull-back (generally 1.5 times pipe diameter). While boring/
reaming operation is being performed, pipe string preparation i.e. welding of line pipes, NDT
of weld joints, field joint coating, pre-hydrostatic testing of the prepared pipe string etc. is
done opposite to rig side of the crossing simultaneously. After the successful completion of
hydrostatic testing, pipe string is pulled back into the enlarged hole.

Geo-technical Investigation

Drill path design

One of the key considerations in the design of the drill-path is creating as large a radius of
curvature as possible within the limits of the right-of-way. Small radius of curvature induces
bending stresses and increases the pullback load due to the capstan effect. The capstan effect
is the increase in frictional drag while pulling a pipe around a curve due to a component of the
pulling force acting normal to the curvature. Higher tensile stresses reduce the pipe’s collapse
resistance. Curvature requirements are dependent on site geometry (crossing length, required
depth to provide safe cover, staging site location, etc.) But, the degree of curvature is limited
by the bending radius of the drill rod and the minimum elastic bending radius of the pipe.

The designed drilling profile consists of a series of straight lines and curves. The straight lines
are referred as tangents. The straight sections are those in which the drilling hole curvature is
ideally zero. This implies that any pipe section can be considered as straight section if the
curvature of that section is less than that necessary to make the pipe deviate beyond the walls
of the hole, which is roughly 1.5 times larger in diameter than the pipe itself.
The curves are typically sag bend and over bend. The curved sections are considered short
enough to assume one constant radius for the entire sweep of that section.
The HDD design calculation is for steel pipes in a banana-shaped drilling profile or drilling
path. The banana-shaped drilling profile means the drilling path will start with:

• An inclined straight section (AB); then it will encounter

• A curvature (BC) after which it will have
• A horizontal straight section (CD). Towards the exit side this horizontal straight section
will again encounter
• A curvature (DE) and then end with
• An inclined straight section (EF)
Fig. Typical horizontal directional drilling profile

The length of straight section AB, CD and EF can be reduced to zero by entering the proper
combination of horizontal length of the crossing, exit height, entry height along with suitable
radius of curvature.

Guidance note: Drilling path described above is suitable for most of the pipeline crossing
performed by HDD methodology. It is advised that the user plots the HDD profile on the surveyed
AutoCAD drawing before inputting the drilling profile parameters. User shall re-assure the
suitability by checking that calculated value for AB, BC, CD, DE and EF is in sync with the plotted
HDD profile length.

Pilot hole drilling

The steering tool is placed within the Bore Hole Assembly (BHA). Generally, the BHA is made
up of non-magnetic drill collars. The “lead collar” of the BHA is placed on the alignment of the
particular crossing. After the alignment, the steering probe is energized with electrical current
(wire-line steering) and a bearing for the drill path is established and logged into the surface
computer. The drilling rig is set precisely on line with a transit. The non-magnetic “lead collar”
(with steering probe) and the directional deviation tool are started exactly at the designated
entry point. In most cases, one Non-Magnetic Drill Collar (NMDC) is used behind the BHA. A 10
m non-magnetic collar shall serve as a buffer between the steering probe (in the “lead collar”)
and the steel drill pipe. Drill pipe is often highly magnetized due to the continual making up
and breaking out the tool joint connections and can affect the tool parameters.

Pilot hole drilling typically is considered the most challenging and time consuming step. As
each piece of drill pipe is advanced, the next drill pipe is fitted with a wire inside. This wire is
attached to the corresponding wire of the drill pipe previously drilled. This internal wire is the
vehicle used for the signal to be sent from the steering probe located in the Bottom Hole
Assembly (BHA) to the surface computer. This process is repeated until the bit is advanced
along the predetermined path and comes out at predetermined exit location as per
the designed drilling path.

Fig. Pilot hole cross-section

Boring/ reaming operation

Once the drilling bit exits out (punch out) of the pilot hole, the lead pieces/ drill pipes are
unscrewed. The hole opener/ reamer is then attached to the leading pipe to start reaming
operation. The reaming operation consists of using an appropriate tool to open the pilot hole
to a slightly larger diameter than the carrier pipeline. The percentage oversize depends on
many variables including soil types, soil stability, depth, drilling mud, borehole hydrostatic
pressure, etc. Normal over-sizing may be from 1.4 to 1.5 times the diameter of the carrier pipe.
While the over-sizing is necessary for insertion, it means that the inserted pipe will have to
sustain vertical earth pressures without significant side support from the surrounding soil.

Good grade of bentonite is continuously pumped through the reamers to flush the cuttings
and stabilize the hole. Similar procedure is repeated for all stages of reaming.
Fig. Reaming/ boring cross-section

Swab Pass: While pulling the reamer back to the shore if the Driller or the Superintendent feels
that the hole is not conditioned or if there is a collapse of the hole, additional swab passes are
made with the same size of the reamer. High yield bentonite with quick jelling characteristics is
used to preserve the integrity of the borehole during the swab pass.

Drilling Mud: Usually a “drilling mud” such as fluid bentonite clay is injected into the bore
during cutting and reaming to stabilize the hole and remove soil cuttings. Drilling mud can be
made from clay or polymers. The primary clay for drilling mud is sodium montmorillonite
(bentonite). Properly ground and refined bentonite is added to fresh water to produce a “mud.”
The mud reduces drilling torque, and gives stability and support to the bored hole. The fluid
must have sufficient gel strength to keep cuttings suspended for transport, to form a filter cake
on the borehole wall that contains the water within the drilling fluid, and to provide lubrication
between the pipe and the borehole on pullback. Drilling fluids are designed to match the soil
and cutter. They are monitored throughout the process to make sure the bore stays open,
pumps are not overworked, and fluid circulation throughout the borehole is maintained. Loss
of circulation could cause a locking up and possibly overstressing of the pipe during pullback.
Drilling muds are thixotropic and thus thicken when left undisturbed after pullback. However,
unless cementitious agents are added, the thickened mud is no stiffer than very soft clay.
Drilling mud provides little to no soil side-support for the pipe.

Preparation of pipe string

The pipe shall be strung and welded, on the rollers, in the same line as the drilled hole from
entry side to exit side. The welds of the pipe may be subject to visual inspection and/ or non-
destructive testing (NDT). After welding of the total pipe string, in a single segment length, it is
pre-hydrostatically tested at a pressure of 1.25 times × design pressure of the pipeline. After
successful completion of pre-hydrostatic testing, test header is removed and pull head is
welded on the rig side of the pipe string. The near to hole section of the pipe string is lifted
with the help of adequate lifting equipment to make a necessary over bend.

Pipe Pull Back and Installation

The pullback operation involves pulling the entire pipeline string in one segment (usually) back
through the drilling mud along the reamed-hole pathway. The pulling equipment is attached
to the leading end of the drill pipes string, and the prepared pipe string is fed gently into the
bored hole. Proper pipe handling, cradling, bending minimization need to be followed. Axial
tension force readings, constant insertion velocity, mud flow circulation/exit rates, and footage
length installed should be recorded. The pullback speed ranges usually between 1 to 2 feet per

Fig. Pipe pull-back cross-section

Introduction to Coating of Pipelines

Various organic coatings are in use for pipeline passive external corrosion protection, which are
supplemented with active corrosion protection i.e. cathodic protection. The choice and
selection of particular coating system is dependent on the various considerations, such as
external stresses the coating has to withstand, compatibility with cathodic protection and its
current demand, soil characteristics, operating temperature etc.

Essential properties that a particular coating system should possess are as under:

• Protective coating must remain defect free with in practical limitations over a period of
time, specifically for areas where temperature fluctuations are wide.

• Coating must be tolerant to handling during construction & field bending and in service

• Following are the essential properties of coating system:

• – Impact Resistance
– Penetration Resistance

– Resistance to cathodic disbondment

– Stability at elevated temperature

– Resistance to soil stress

– Resistance to water absorption

– Chemical resistance (Acids & alkali)

– Volume resistivity

– Flexibility to bending

– Hardness (abrasion resistance)

– Maintenance and refurbishment frequency

– HSE consideration

– Resistance to damages during handling

(Some of the above properties are interdependent)

Types of Coating Systems

There are various types of coating system which are being applied on hydrocarbon pipelines.
However, for the sake of this article, prediminanently there are following types of external anti-
corrosion coatings:

1. Fusion Bonded Epoxy (FBE) Coating

2. Three Layer Poly Ethylene/ Propylene (3LPE/ 3LPP) Coating
3. Coal Tar Enamel (CTE) Coating

Fusion-bonded epoxy powder coating

Fusion bonded epoxy coating, also known as fusion-bond epoxy powder coating and
commonly referred to as FBE coating, is an epoxy-based powder coating that is widely used to
protect steel pipe used in pipeline construction from corrosion. FBE coatings are thermoset
polymer coatings. The name fusion-bond epoxy is due to resin cross-linking and the
application method, which is different from a conventional paint. The resin and hardener
components in the dry powder FBE stock remain unreacted at normal storage conditions. At
typical coating application temperatures, usually in the range of 180 to 250 °C (356 to 482 °F),
the contents of the powder melt and transform to a liquid form. The liquid FBE film wets and
flows onto the steel surface on which it is applied, and soon becomes a solid coating by
chemical cross-linking, assisted by heat. This process is known as “fusion bonding”. The
chemical cross-linking reaction taking place in this case is irreversible. Once the curing takes
place, the coating cannot be returned to its original form by any means. Application of further
heating will not “melt” the coating and thus it is known as a “thermoset” coating.

Three Layer Poly Ethylene/ Propylene (3LPE/ 3LPP) coating

3LPE/ 3LPP coating system is a multilayer coating composed of three functional components: a
high performance fusion bonded epoxy (FBE), followed by a copolymer adhesive and an outer
layer of Medium Density Polyethylene (MDPE) or High Density Polyethylene (HDPE), which
provides protection against external corrosion.

• The codes and standards for 3LPE are ISO 21809-1, DIN 30670 or CAN/CSA Z245.21.
• Fusion Bonded Epoxy (FBE): First layer of FBE shall be 150 microns thick.
• Adhesive: Second layer of extruded co-polymer adhesive, 200 microns thick.
• Polyethylene (MDPE/HDPE): Third layer of extruded polyethylene (MDPE/HDPE) or
polypropylene (MDPP/HDPP), 1.6 – 2.95 mm thick.
• Application of Coating: Surface preparation of pipe by blast cleaning, subsequent to
pipe heating fusion epoxy powder shall be applied and after that extruded adhesive
shall be applied over the pipe. Finally extruded polyethylene (MDPE or HDPE) layer shall
be applied over the adhesive layer.
• Total coating thickness is generally < 3.0 mm for pipe dia < 24" and 3.3 mm for pipe dia
32” & above)
Coal Tar Enamel (CTE)

CTE coating is a thermoplastic polymeric coating. The CTE coating system is made up of four
main components: primer, coal tar enamel, glass fiber inner-wrap and glass fiber outer-wrap.

• The codes and standards for CTE are AWWA C203, BS 4164 or IS 10221.
• Primer: The primer shall be quick drying synthetic primer for cold application.
• Coat Tar Enamel: Coal tar enamel shall consist of uniform mixture of modified coal tar
and inert non-fibrous filler.
• Inner Wrap: The fiber glass inner wrap shall be thin and flexible, uniform mat of
compressed glass fibers. The inner wrap shall be reinforced type.
• Outer Wrap: The outer wrap material shall be a coal tar impregnated glass fiber felt.
• Application of Coating: Surface preparation of pipe by blast cleaning, primer shall be
applied to the pipe surface by air-less spraying equipment, coal tar enamel shall be
mechanically applied over the primed pipes with one wrap of glass fiber mat followed
by coal tar enamel and followed immediately by an outer wrap of coal-tar impregnated
glass fiber felt.
• Total coating thickness is 4.8 mm (for all pipe sizes).

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