NOV's fiberglass piping equipment reduces water transport costs in Louisiana shale


LAFAYETTE, La. -- Demand continues to grow for piping infrastructure that can effectively handle produced water and transporting water for frac operations across great distances.

Fiber Glass Systems, a business unit of National Oilwell Varco’s Completion & Production Solutions segment, manufactures the large-diameter Red Thread, Green Thread, and Bondstrand product lines for use in such applications. All are filament-wound products constructed of epoxy resins and continuous glass filaments. The pipe is made in sizes of 2 to 60 in. and can handle temperatures up to 210°F (98.8°C). Fiberglass pipe is a corrosion-free alternative to steel piping systems and can handle saltwater, produced water, or briny water with no issues.

Recently, a large independent midstream company operating in Louisiana was designing a gathering system to help area producers developing two major shale plays. The company needed a 12-in. nominal pipe rated to 300 psi (2.06 Mpa) at 200°F (93.3°C) for use in this system. NOV had already supplied 13.5 mi of 12-in. Red Thread HP 20 Bar and approximately 3 mi of 8-in. Red Thread HP 20 Bar for the laterals in this project and thus was the perfect fit for their needs. In addition to the fiberglass pipe’s enhanced resistance to corrosion and high temperature, the company was able to realize five-digit cost savings by eliminating the need to transport and dispose of water via trucks.

Though high-density polyethylene (HDPE) pipe and coated steel pipe were also considered for the project, fiberglass pipe had significant advantages over both options. HDPE pipe has temperature and pressure constraints far lower than that of fiberglass pipe, while steel pipe has to be internally and, in many cases, externally coated. In addition, cathodic protection would also need to be considered for steel pipe. Such necessities add greatly to the expense of the pipe, and it can be extremely difficult to get perfect coatings on the pipe regardless of the coatings’ quality. Fiberglass, on the other hand, is naturally corrosion resistant throughout the pipe and does not require any type of coating. There is also a significant saving in installation and labor costs due to the fact that fiberglass pipe does not require welding and heavy equipment to deploy.

Generally, NOV’s fiberglass products have much larger internal diameters (IDs) than typically available with HDPE pipe. For example, while Red Thread pipe with a 12-in. diameter has an ID of 12.28 in., an HDPE SDR 7.3 product would have a nominal ID of 9.05 in. This means that NOV can actually offer a smaller pipe size, such as a 10 in., and still have a 10.36-in. ID. This reduces material cost drastically.

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