ONE RIG UP
The Slick-e-Line system combines the
capability of mechanical slickline and real
time cased hole logging into a single unit.
Bi-directional communication allows real
time depth correlation, logging services
and surface activation of mechanical and
were subjected to a comprehensive verification-testing program, the
results of which confirmed problem-free, full manufacturing capability.
The next step was to move the tube into full-scale manufacturing on
the VHAM for this project. Throughout the manufacturing process no
issues arose, and the tube was qualified for project umbilical assembly.
Total, supported by its specialists in Paris, had begun the qualification process with Vallourec over four years ago, later supported by
TechnipFMC Umbilicals’ own supplier qualification program. This
collaboration and in depth R&D by all parties was essential to be
able to move with confidence into a full-scale project. A new product
‘life cycle’ through the manufacturing process was assessed for risks,
including logistics and product handling, and development of welding
trials, all of which helped remove doubt from the critical processes
that had historically employed seamless tubes.
In 2015, Vallourec delivered 133 km (82.6 mi) of tube to TechnipFMC
Umbilicals with an inner diameter of 19.05 mm and a wall thickness
of 1.82 mm for the Glenlivet project, and manufacture and installation
of the umbilical was completed in 2016. For handling during installation, the umbilical needed to perform as defined by the mechanical
properties of the design, and in line with the performance of umbilicals
produced with seamless tubing. In the event the consignment was
spooled from the TechnipFMC Umbilicals plant into an under-deck
carousel and installed at the field in summer 2016, without any issues.
The tubes supplied for this project delivered a 17% saving in wall
thickness compared to seamless tubing, and this had a positive impact
on the umbilical design and on the subsequent installation. •
Note: This is an adapted version of a paper presented at the Offshore Mediterranean Conference in Ravenna, Italy, in March 2017.
Subsea umbilicals for deep and ultra-deepwater field
applications are becoming more demanding to design and
engineer in terms of injection capacity, power requirements
and other factors, according to Vallourec Umbilicals’ Managing Director, Stéphane Chrobot. “The water depth is really an
issue, especially for longer tiebacks, and the only response to
this up to now has been to increase the thickness of the tubes.
“A subsea umbilical can contain up to 10 steel tubes, which
makes it very heavy, and this combined with the length can
make transporting it and the subsequent installation problem-
atic. These were the considerations we had in mind when we
started our R&D project with Total in 2008-09, and our focus
was on a solution that could control the wall thickness and
weight of the tubes.”
Vallourec had assembled an R&D team incorporating spe-
cialists from Total and the company’s Finnish steel supplier
Outokompu. “We had made welded tubes for heat exchang-
ers,” Chrobot explained, “and decided, why not adapt that
seam/laser-welded process for steel tube umbilicals? After
several months of studies, we concluded it would be feasible.”
TechnipFMC also came onboard in 2011, when Vallourec
Umbilicals was established and had created a first prototype
seam-welded tube, which needed to be qualified by an umbili-
TechnipFMC designed, manufactured, and installed the
Edradour and Glenlivet umbilicals: Vallourec was subcontracted for the tubes, but at the time did not have the capacity
to supply all the tubes seam-welded, with only one specialist seam-welded production line operational at that point, in
Venarey-les-Laumes, central France. Glenlivet was the first live
project. Vallourec Umbilicals has since doubled capacity at
the plant, with two lines now capable of producing 1,000 km/yr
(621 mi) of seam-welded tubes. “This is still not enough, however,” Chrobot said, “so we are considering a further investment for when the market picks up.
“The plant can produce all types of seam-welded tubes for
steel umbilicals. “At present we can make tubes with an internal diameter of 0.5-in., and with a wall thickness of up to 1.5-in.
We start with a strip of metal, which is formed into a round
tube, then laser welded to form a bonding on the steel. The
tube then undergoes heat treatment on the production line,
followed by phased-array non-destructive testing to check the
quality of the weld and the steel and any deviations from the
required geometry. Any defect (up to 0.5% of the tube’s wall
thickness) is automatically marked in red and then removed.
We then perform an orbital weld on the second production line
before coiling the finished tube onto a reel.
“Today we see some deep and ultra-deepwater projects
coming forward, though less than in the past, with more of a
focus on tiebacks to existing facilities. But there is growing
interest in our technology, as the process uses less steel –
and super duplex is quite expensive – so our system is price-
Aside from Total, Vallourec Umbilicals has produced some
prototypes for Statoil, and the company has been working on
qualification with various other major operators and NOCs.
The seam-welded tube process has also been qualified by the
other main steel tube umbilical manufacturers, Aker Solu-
tions, Nexans, Oceaneering and Prysmian, although at present
the production capacity cannot supply all these companies’
“The oil and gas industry is very conservative, particularly
for a new subsea application,” Chrobot said. “For this development, we had to demonstrate first that we could produce a prototype, and then that it was of the required quality. We had to
stage over 11,000 tests to prove the mechanical strength properties, corrosion and fatigue resistance, including hydrogen-induced stress cracking tests in different sizes and different
conditions for various clients, plus collapse and burst tests: in
the latter case, we increase the pressure until 2,000 bar.
“To date we have not encountered a single failure in a laser
weld during tests. You might think that for a seam-welded tube,
the weak part should be the weld, but we are not adding filler
material when we longitudinally weld the tube. This process involves a laser bonding the steel, so that part is even stronger
than the rest of the tube.”