A stubbornly high Australian dollar and increased international competition has led to the demise of manufacturing high-strength steel line pipe and pipeline coatings in Australia. This has resulted in a paradigm shift to fulfil the requirements of Australian pipeline projects.
Orrcon Steel is one company that has successfully transitioned from its traditional Australian pipeline manufacturing business model. Its Pipeline and Infrastructure Team provides low-risk line pipe solutions for clients in conjunction with pre-qualified international line pipe manufacturers and coaters.
Orrcon Pipelines and Infrastructure Manager Rob Campbell explains the transition in more detail. “Following the closure of our line pipe manufacturing facility in Wollongong, we were able to retain our specialised project team of engineers, metallurgists and NACE-qualified inspectors. Our team has been working with pre-qualified international manufacturers since 2003, so we already had extensive systems in place to deliver successful projects,” says Mr Campbell.
“We have recently expanded these international relationships to accommodate a broader range of line pipe.”
Orrcon says that it is clear that sourcing pipe from overseas presents a very different risk profile. Companies need to be aware of the inherent risks in international pipe supply, including:
- Compliance with client specifications, AS2885 and API 5L;
- Technical assurance – raw materials, pipe and coating production and overall quality;
- Supply chain – shipping, storing and logistics;
- Handling methodologies;
- Lead times;
- Documentation – appropriate documentation for MDRs and ITPs; and,
- Language and communication barriers.
“What’s important is engaging a suitably qualified partner that will provide product that meets your project specifications and expectations,” says Mr Campbell.
According to Mr Campbell, “The risk profiles of pipeline projects have been further exposed by the loss of local Australian manufacturing expertise. This expertise guided the technical development of line pipe and coatings over many years, resulting in consistent, high-quality outcomes. We now have to rebuild the confidence of the industry by delivering those same outcomes from international manufacturers.”
What’s the future of pipe supply for Australian pipeline projects?
Pipeline companies can be assured that coated line pipe can be delivered to their expectations from international manufacturers, however, it is a case of “˜buyer beware’, with many risks remaining, says Mr Campbell.
“It is important that the knowledge gained from the Australian pipeline industry continues to be utilised with guidance and direction from organisations such as APIA, the Research and Standards Committee and the Energy Pipelines Co-operative Research Centre.
“The next step is to ensure that capable international line pipe manufacturers are fully engaged to develop lower risk profiles for Australian pipelines.”
To discuss your line pipe requirements with a team of local specialists, call (07) 3621 8400.