FlexSteel’s Hands-On Project Management Approach Helps a Bolivian Client Overcome Costly Project Challenges
Located deep in the Amazon rainforest of Bolivia, Los Cusis oil field is a challenging place for oil and natural gas exploration companies to operate. Almost five hours from the city of Santa Cruz, the area is extremely remote and filled with dense jungle vegetation. Frequent rainfall and flooding make construction projects both expensive and difficult to execute. Recently, a major Bolivian oil and gas company with well sites in the area needed to find a new pipeline solution that was capable of transporting highly corrosive produced water. The pipeline also had to be strong enough to operate under cyclic pressure conditions without the risk of fracturing from stress. Previously, the company used fiber reinforced spoolable pipe products, but they experienced multiple issues with coil and stress fracturing. They also needed a pipeline solution that could rapidly be installed. Frequent rain and flooding, combined with an extremely shallow water table (generally less than three feet) made trenching installations very complicated. Without the use of expensive specialized equipment, trenches would begin to fill with water and collapse if left open for too long. Thus, rapid installation was critical maintaining the project schedule and budget.
FlexSteel’s project management and technical teams went to Bolivia and worked closely with the client and its contractors to select the right pipeline solution for the challenging environment. They also assisted in the development of a project schedule that would ensure that critical deadlines were met. The client chose to install FlexSteel’s 3-inch ID, 2,250 psi line. With an extremely durable steel core design, the pipeline eliminated the stress fracturing issues that the client had experienced with other spoolable pipeline products. It could also withstand the project’s cyclic pressure operating environment, without needing to be de-rated over time. FlexSteel’s highly corrosion resistant polyethylene (PE) liner could easily transport produced water without the need for specialty maintenance programs. And because it could be quickly installed directly in trenches without specialty bedding materials, FlexSteelTM pipe would mitigate the issue of the saturated trenches collapsing.
In total, FlexSteel installed 7.46 miles of its 3-inch 2,250 psi pipe for the client. Only 13 midline connections and 2 end fittings were required for the entire project. Because FlexSteel’s midline and end fittings are quickly installed using a specialized hydraulic compression technology (referred to as swaging), no on-site welding was required. This drastically reduced the amount of time and cost required to complete the installation. So much so, that FlexSteel’s installation outpaced other contractors on the project. On previous projects with fiber reinforced spoolable products, the client had to use expensive pallets to prepare the pipe for shipping. Because of FlexSteel’s durable design, the client will not have to do this on future projects, which will result significant cost savings.