Magma’s solution for the pre-salt

09 Oct 2019

By Tony Duncan, VP Americas, Magma Global, for TN Petroleo Brazil

Magma Global’s mission is to deliver the world’s most reliable risers, jumpers and intervention lines for subsea exploration and production, and in so doing provide lower cost, lower risk and environmentally sustainable solutions for our customers. We are a British company that has developed a carbon fibre and PEEK pipe, named m-pipe, that simplifies subsea architecture through low weight, high strength, flexibility and standardised design.

Our product was originally conceived for the deepwater markets around the world: Brazil, Gulf of Mexico and West Africa. Our standard product has been deployed for water, oil and gas service, predominantly as flowlines and jumpers as operators have been familiarising themselves with this new product. It has taken a long time to lay the foundations with the technology and to generate acceptance that thermoplastic composite pipe is a good solution. That confidence is there now and it is now a matter of qualification for particular environments before our product is used as deepwater production risers.

In ultra deepwaters such as in Brazil, which presently reach 2,200m, there is a risk of collapse for any pipe, so it must be able to handle high external pressures. The fluids within the pipe are also at a high pressure of up to 10ksi. They are also relatively hot, at typically 80-120 degrees centigrade. On top of this, the natural fluids present within the pre-salt wells are a mixture of highly corrosive fluids and liquid gases. High levels of carbon dioxide combine with water to produce carbonic acid which is very acidic and, when combined with the naturally present hydrogen sulphide gas, corrodes metals rapidly. This gas gradually permeates through plastic coatings allowing the corrosive fluids to attack the metallic layers in the non-bonded flexible pipe causing “stress corrosion cracking” which can drastically reduce the life-span of that pipe.

This is causing a challenge for the subsea infrastructure in the existing pre-salt fields and has led to Petrobras looking at steel solutions from operators outside Brazil to get around the problem at the new Mero fields. This is disappointing for Petrobras and other companies operating in Brazil as there has been so much investment and past success with a flexible pipe subsea infrastructure.

Magma’s m-pipe is a great solution to the pre-salt challenge.  It is made in continuous long lengths from just two top performing materials: carbon fibre and PEEK polymer. PEEK has a long history of application for use in critical components. PEEK gives m-pipe the ability to handle operating temperatures from -60 to 200 degrees centigrade, making it the highest performing thermoplastic polymer available. It is also unaffected by oilfield chemicals, even at the high temperatures experienced in the pre-salt, and has very good resistance to gas permeation. No other polymer can handle the combination of pre-salt challenges so well. The carbon fibre structure means it can handle up to 20ksi and is fatigue resistant. Despite the strength of m-pipe it is still flexible enough to be deployed from reels.

We have just commenced qualification to pre-salt conditions. It is expected to give results way beyond any other material in terms of the reaction with sour service chemicals so it is going to be a very exciting period for both Petrobras and Magma. As well as qualifying m-pipe for use as pre-salt flowlines, our product is being incorporated into riser designs by companies that are well established in Brazil.

Last year we announced a collaboration with TechnipFMC on the development of a hybrid flexible pipe solution. This design is intended to address the challenges of the Libra fields in Brazil. The new hybrid flexible pipe incorporating Magma’s m-pipe will deliver robust risers and flowlines with increased performance while offering significant overall reductions in the product installed cost. This will be achieved by combining the chemical resistance and fatigue performance of Magma’s high-end carbon fibre PEEK TCP with the stability and strength of flexible steel armour.

Last year we also announced a partnership with Ocyan and BrasFELS to develop a Composite Multi-Bore Hybrid Riser tower for ultra-deep fields. The riser pipes used in CompRiser® are Magma’s m-pipe which provides high corrosion resistance, high strength, and flexibility. Additionally, m-pipe’s flexibility enables a new concept for the lower riser termination that will allow the risers to be connected directly to rigid and flexible flowlines.

Magma and m-pipe are being welcomed in Brazil and we are looking forward to growing our business here. We believe Brazil will lead the world in its adoption of thermoplastic composite pipe, such as m-pipe, and will reap the benefits of composite pipe expertise and infrastructure when other oil and gas markets around the world follow their example.

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