Backing the industry through experience and expertise

LFF Brisbane was formed in 2014 and has one of the largest low temperature and carbon steel stockholdings on the East Coast of Australia. Building off the success of the LFF Group, which was formed in 1983, the Australian operations have continued to grow its presence. 

From its 1500 square metres Eagle Farm facility, LFF Brisbane has supported customers through a range of projects and MRO requirements with the supply of pipe, fittings and flanges for more than eight years. 

“At a time when LFF Brisbane was looking to expand its operations, an opportunity emerged to secure the services of a group of individuals who had been working together successfully for more than 20 years,” Local Director Dave Keith says. 

With close ties and a successful history of manufacturing and supplying coated linepipe to the local pipeline market, LFF welcomed six industry experts into its business. 

And so LFF Pipelines & Infrastructure (LFF P&I) was born, consisting of Ben Glasson, Mark Grubanovich, Cameron Dinnis, Shane Franks, Ken Hunter, and Steve Dawes. 

Since its inception in July 2021, it has complimented LFF Group’s existing operations in Australia and New Zealand who operate as specialist suppliers of pipe, fittings, and flanges. 

The establishment of LFF P&I now enables the Group’s Australian operations to offer a complete materials package to support the market’s upstream production, midstream pipeline operations and downstream refining segments.

LFF Group have proven QMS processes to qualify global supply chain partners and undertake extensive quality management activities to ensure that project risk is minimised through guaranteed compliance of procedures and materials.  

LFF Pipelines & Infrastructure’s Regional Business Development Manager Mark Grubanovich says the project team has extensive experience in servicing the Australian and New Zealand energy and infrastructure industries for a period of more than 20 years. 

“Having been involved in the development and ongoing operations of one of Australia’s former API linepipe mills, we have a fundamental understanding of the nature of linepipe manufacture and coating, specifically in accordance with the stringent requirements of AS2885 for high pressure gas transmission pipelines, and to the applicable standards required across this market,” Grubanovich says. 

“The challenge for us is to ensure our clients technical specifications are fully understood by the respective steel, pipe and coating mills, the majority of which have English as a second language for their technical staff.  We achieve this by our continued presence in these mills, both on a project specific and rotational visitation program,” Engineering Manager Cameron Dinnis says. 

Most of the international mills understand the base standards of API 5L, CSA 245 etc, however where they can face challenges is the understanding and application of our Australian Standards. For example, the addition of AS2885, AS3862, and client supplementary specifications can be more demanding.”

Pre-Covid, Dinnis was spending several months of every year out of Australia, in mills with our Chinese and Korean suppliers to develop their understanding of our standards, and directly supporting our Pipeline and Infrastructure projects.

He has just returned from a three-week trip to Korea, ensuring technical compliance on the Santos CCS Pipeline, and has also been supporting our Chinese mills on the Port of Melbourne Webb Dock East 4 Piling Project.

“It’s unfortunately true that our Australian industry’s demand for line pipe for pipelines is considerably smaller compared to the rest of the world and that can make it more challenging for a pipe manufacturer to entertain modifying their standard processes to ensure our market’s specific requirements are met,” Glasson says.

“Over many years, we have built relationships with offshore manufacturers and conducted qualification reviews to ensure these operations could meet the specific requirements defined by our market. We then partner with the selected capable mills and coating plants to assure the needs of specific projects.”

As a result, Glasson, Dinnis, and Grubanovich, alongside Business Development Managers Shane Franks and Steve Dawes, and Contracts Specialist Ken Hunter, established a proficient manufacturing and logistics supply chain. This includes steel and pipe mills, coating plants, freight forwarders, marine surveillance, inspection services, and specialist linepipe transporters for onshore deliveries.  

“We now manage the sourcing, risk, supervision and delivery of coated linepipe from our manufacturing partners to our clients’ nominated location,” says Grubanovich. 

Dinnis says the team manage the risk for their clients in the supply of products through technical resource and support, contract management, procurement, project management, and rigorous process control procedures for manufacturing, shipping, transport, and materials handling.

  “A big challenge with the supply of linepipe is the distance it is travelling,” Dinnis says. “For example, from a logistics point of view, coated pipe that is being shipped from offshore and transported to a remote project site thousands of kilometres from the incoming port, has many opportunities to be damaged if it isn’t handled properly. 

“Considering the steps from when the pipe has been manufactured to when it is delivered, there are a number of movements to be managed. So, it is imperative to develop processes to manage those interactions and ensure third party service providers follow our processes.” 

Glasson says LFF P&I take it to the next level of care by the effective management and direct supervision of its service providers.

“On any given project, we directly supervise the required resources for the safe handling, unloading and inspection services of the coated linepipe.  We ensure all relevant activities are being observed, and procedures followed to assure the integrity of the product is not compromised.”

The LFF Group has always been agile in responding to change and developments in the global oil and gas industry. Whilst their roots remain firmly in London, the company’s integrity, professionalism, technical competence, and commitment to clients has allowed it to build a global organisation offering a combination of service, quality, safety, and value.

For more information LFF Group. 

This article featured in the May edition of The Australian Pipeliner. 

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