Pipeline Welding & Fabrication

As the need for specialty steel pipe grows, higher steel grades and bigger wall thicknesses are introducing new challenges to pipe welding and fabrication shops. Here are some of the latest advances in welding equipment and fabrication tools that can help these shops gain and maintain a competitive advantage.

As the leading subsea engineering contractor of underwater fields on the Norwegian Continental Shelf, Technip Norway (Sandvika, Norway), a subsidiary of Technip S.A. (Paris, France), specializes in producing oil and gas pipelines onshore, then reeling these pipelines onto a reeling vessel later on for offshore installation. With annual revenues of €375 million to €500 million in pipeline systems and marine operations, this EPCI contractor is currently involved in several significant field development projects in the Norwegian sector of the North Sea and employs about 500 people in Norway in its offices in Sandvika, Stavanger and Haugesund and its spoolbase in Orkanger.

All pipes are delivered in 12 m lengths from the steel mills. The production shop uses a column and booms from PEMA Welding Automation (Pemamek Oy Ltd; Loimaa, Finland) to support the submerged arc welding equipment that “double joints” two and two pipes into 24 m lengths. After the double joints are coated and welded into 1,200 m long stalks, they are then reeled onto the reeling vessel.

“Because of great competition to win jobs within the oil and gas business, we must have smooth and efficient welding to meet our clients’ time frames for various projects. Submerged arc welding is a very reliable and very efficient process,” explains Tore Håbrekke, the welding and site operations manager of Technip Norway. “Our machinery must be robust because it is used all day long, sometimes into the weekends too. And size is very important to us. PEMA met our requirements by delivering equipment that is purpose-built for our plant.”

Watch the world’s largest and greatest ships being manufactured using PEMA welding automation systems.

The oil and gas industry is placing an extremely high emphasis on safety and reliability as oil and gas exploration moves further into the North, setting goals that can be difficult to achieve while prospecting in deeper waters and working under very hard conditions. The consequences of failure can be radical, especially in the reeling business, where Technip pipes are bent over their plastic deformation limits in a special way that could possibly create defects.

For this reason, the shop routinely focuses on strict acceptance criteria for weld defects to insure smooth and predictable production to meet the tight time frames of the offshore business. “If we can maintain a high number of defect-free welds per shift, we can keep to our production plans,” states Håbrekke. “If we do not meet these, we face problems with other projects that could also affect our productivity. These are the main reasons we chose the PEMA equipment. We are very pleased with the service they offer. There was no need for numerous meetings because most of the questions were sorted out in the kick-off meeting and during our visit to their production site in Finland.”

Technip also places importance on the working relationship that PEMA has with Lincoln Electric (Cleveland, OH). “Lincoln is one of our main suppliers for welding equipment and consumables, and the interface with PEMA is very much welcomed by our shop,” smiled Håbrekke. Robot and automation technology from PEMA Welding Automation is now used in over 50 countries for heavy engineering, mobile machinery, civil construction, shipbuilding and offshore, industrial boiler, wind energy, and process and nuclear industries.

Pemamek Oy Ltd, Lamminkatu 47, 32200 Loimaa, Finland, +358 40 703 617, jukka.rantala@pemamek.com, www.pemamek.com.

CRC-Evans Pipeline International, Inc. (Houston, TX), an international leader in pipeline construction technologies and product development, introduces its M-400 Welding System – a lightweight, multi-process, multi-power-source, on-board wire feed, single-torch welding system that provides the same range and functionality of previous systems, while reducing the overall weight by 25 percent.

“The M-400 Welding System is revolutionary on every front,” says Shankar Rajagopalan, the chief technology officer of the Advanced Technology Division at CRC-Evans. “It’s a single system for all needs that ensures consistent, high-quality welds with minimum effort and maximum flexibility.” The M-400 system is digital and analog welding power-supply-capable. The unit can be adapted to weld flux core, inner-shield, STT and GMAW with minimal mechanical changes to the bug. It is capable of welding all layers, from root to cap, using STT process for the root and GMAW, FCAW or inner-shield for the remaining layers. The advanced technology also offers innovative thru-the-arc tracking as an option to maintain the arc in the center of the weld seam and the optimum tip-to-work distance, ensuring uniform, high-quality welds.

The system features a significantly redesigned, lightweight Pendant feature that includes a large-format color display. The Pendant not only operates the M-400 system, but its display relays multiple levels of information including real time data of essential parameters and allows the adjustment of parameters without the need to plug in a laptop or PDA. The M-400 Welding System also provides the following features and benefits:

  • New, lightweight design improves ergonomics
  • Position based welding around the circumference of the pipe
  • Flexibility of all the weld passes with independent weld process per pass
  • Swing-tip cleaning allows for easier maintenance and increased output
  • Center-torch designs and ambidextrous carriage eliminates need for a clockwise and counterclockwise configuration

CRC-Evans Pipeline International, Inc., 7011 High Life Drive, Houston, TX 77066, 832-249-3100, Fax: 832-249-3292, www.crc-evans.com.

A portable end prep tool for heavy wall stainless steel pipe and hard to machine alloys that pulls a thick chip without cutting oils for producing superior welds is available from ESCO Tool (Holliston, MA). The MILLHOG® Commander ID Clamping End Prep Tool features large clamp pads that spread their contact forces radially inside the pipe to provide rigid clamping for chatter-free end preps on thin and heavy-wall pipe.  Utilizing formed tool bits with chip breakers that direct heat away from the surface, this tool can perform 37-1/2 deg bevels, compound, counterbore, and J-preps without cutting oils, to meet most welding requirements.

A demonstration and overview of the MILLHOG Commander weld end preparation tool.

Equipped with one mandrel and seven sets of clamps, the MILLHOG Commander ID Clamping End Prep Tool can prep all schedules of pipe from 3.75 in ID to 14 in OD. Standard with a 3 hp pneumatic motor, 1800 W electric and hydraulic motors are optional. The MILLHOG Commander ID Clamping End Prep Tool is priced from $14,995 and is available for rent, with 24-hour shipment or less usually available.

An upgraded welding end prep tool for machining high temperature, high pressure pipe used on severe-duty offshore piping systems and shale pumping stations is the MILLHOG Dictator Welding End Prep Tool, an ID clamping pipe milling machine designed for dry-cutting high-temperature, high-pressure pipe from 4.5 in ID to 18 in OD.

A demonstration and overview of the MILLHOG® Dictator Welding End Prep Tool.

Easy to clean and maintain the air motor by just removing one screw to access the rotor and vane assembly, instead of removing the motor from the tool, the MILLHOG Dictator Welding End Prep Tool develops 4,100 ft-lb of torque at the cutter blade and pulls a continuous thick chip without cutting oils. Blades are TiN coated and dissipate heat away from the pipe’s surface. The MILLHOG Dictator Welding End Prep Tool is priced from $21,995 and is available for rent from $850 per week, depending upon location.

MILLHOG Cutter Blades are a line of cutter blades for machining highly alloyed pipe that feature a proprietary chip breaker design and a Hard Lube coating that adds lubricity and extends blade service life for high performance. Ideal for torched-off heavy-wall pipe made of P-91, Super Duplex stainless steel, and other hard materials, MILLHOG Cutter Blades with the Hard Lube coating mount securely in the tools using the EscoLock™ wedge-style rigid blade lock system. They are available with any angle of prep from 37-1/2 deg to 10 deg and compound bevels.

For other pipe fabrication applications, a full line of pipe beveling welding end prep tools combine rigidity with a wedge-lock cutter head and blades that produce a thick chip without cutting oils. Producing any angle of prep from 37-1/2 deg to 10 deg and compound bevels, these tools incorporate the EscoLock wedge-lock cutter head and proprietary blade featuring a radical chip breaker which gets under the material and directs heat away from the surface.

Capable of producing end preps with ±0.001 in precision, MILLHOG Pipe Beveling Tools increase productivity by producing better matched pipe ends. A broad range of tools, cutter blades and accessories are available for cutting and machining pipe, tube, pipelines, boiler tube panels and more ranging from 0.5 in ID up to 36 in OD. These MILLHOG Pipe Beveling Tools are priced according to type and are available for sale or rent with 24-hour shipment, or less, available.

ESCO Tool, a unit of Esco Technologies, Inc., 75 October Hill Road, Holliston, MA 01746, 800-343-6926, Fax: 508-429-2811, matt@escotool.com, www.escotool.com.

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