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Strength in unity

Published 24.9.2021

With technology provided by Tenaris, engineering and construction by Techint E&C, and oil operations at the basin by Tecpetrol, the Agua Salada project showcases innovative seamless pipe coupling to simplify pipeline construction.

The synergy achieved by the companies of the Techint Group goes hand-in-hand with continuous improvement, enhancing knowledge exchange flows and leading to concrete solutions that make routine tasks more efficient.

On this occasion, laying pipes in the Agua Salada field, in the Argentine province of Río Negro has become an altogether faster and more streamlined process, with significant cost reductions, thanks to the implementation of the TenLockR system.

This Tenaris technology focuses on supplying pipe whose ends have already been modified to meet specifications before leaving the mill. The ends are prepared (PIN and BOX) in the mill through a controlled process, leaving the pipe ready for use. This simplifies operations in the field as it involves a single piece of coupling equipment that uses clamps and hydraulic force to couple the pipes, using a special lubricant to facilitate the process.

“Originally, at Tecpetrol we validated Tenaris’s technical proposal, in favor of adopting the new technology and performed initial construction experiments on the first lines: Tenaris fitted the pipes together with field assistance and a project coordinator from our side,” says Juan Cruz Corres, the Head of Facilities.

“Leveraging on our experience in the field and the new technology incorporated by Tenaris, the objective is to expand the use of this tool in the market, integrating all the stages of flowline construction from pipe supply to the assembly of the lines. This ensures greater speed throughout the process, and comes with all the technical quality standards that are a feature of our work," explains Jose Ignacio Ibarra, Project Manager of the Techint Pipeline in the Agua Salada field.

The traditional pipe coupling method involves welding based on four steps: preparing pipe bevels, alignment, welding, and associated non-destructive testing. Now, using the TenLockR system, these stages have been reduced to two: alignment and mechanical coupling.

Traditional welding is not entirely out of the picture, however, as there are still specific points on the pipeline where this task continues to be required, such as interconnections, special crossings, and connections.

The implementation of TenLockR brings multiple benefits, principally minimizing the possibility of pipe failures. It also means less personnel in the field, and deployment significantly speeds up line installation by up to six times compared with traditional welding processes. All of this leads to hefty cost savings of as much as 25%. At the moment, Tenaris can produce this type of coupling for pipes of up to 4", but the plan is to expand production capabilities at its mill in Campana to produce a TenLockR pipe of up to 12”.

That said, this innovative technology is opening up new opportunities with other operators in the region. “Vaca Muerta needs investment. Lowering costs by developing innovation and partnering with technology specialists would represent a significant contribution in this regard,” says Nicolas Bernini, Commercial Manager of the Pipeline area for Tenaris Argentina.

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