Tata Steel first to develop SAWL line pipe

5 May 2015

Tata Steel was the first company to manufacture a submerged arc welded longitudinal (SAWL) line pipe installed through reeling method in the North Sea.

Manufactured at Tata Steel’s Hartlepool 42-inches UOE mill, the pipe was developed as a bespoke order for an international energy company which required an urgent replacement pipeline, said a statement.

Working closely with the end client and lay contractor from an early stage, the project had a demanding specification which provided a new challenge for all parties, it said.

Tata Steel used some of the best pipe plate available to produce a product which both increased the maximum thickness of pipe that can be produced for a 406.4mm (16-inches) pipe, and re-established the reelability of SAWL pipe.

Due to the success the product is now being launched into the wider market.

Martin Connelly, Tata Steel’s technical manager, said: “This project was a huge success for Tata Steel and there were key features to this achievement.

“Firstly, at 22.2mm, the size represented the thickest 406.4mm outside diameter (OD) SAWL pipe delivered by Tata Steel and secondly the thickness was originally outwith the capacity of the 42-inches UOE mill until this project.

“With the aid of our state of the art finite element (FE) modelling and tooling programme, the pipe was manufactured and delivered ahead of schedule.”

The chosen installation method meant the pipe wall thickness needed to be designed to withstand the strains associated with the reeling process, said the statement.

Tata Steel recently invested in welding control technologies within the 42-inches UOE mill, including weld condition monitoring and digital front-end control of the SAWL welding process.

Investment was also made to ensure delivery of as round a shape of pipe as possible to the expander, with the business reviewing the full forming process including tooling design and a fully validated FE model.

“Tata Steel will continue to develop its understanding of the reaction to reeling of its small diameter/thick wall SAWL pipe and we are planning to conduct a number of full scale simulations over the next few years as part of our research and development programme,” said Connelly.

“This achievement is the culmination of a number of key technologies deployed by Tata Steel. The result is SAWL capability able to support the market which is seeing increasing demand for the small diameter and thick wall size ranges, and we are proud to launch this new product it the market this year,” he said.

The firm is exhibiting at the four-day Offshore Technology Conference, which will run till May 7 at the NRG Centre in Houston, Texas.