To safely transfer crude oil over a record-breaking 700 km, Pentair assisted Cairn in developing the world’s longest heated and insulated pipeline.
In 2004, Cairn India Ltd. uncovered India’s largest onshore oil discovery in 25 years. More than 4 billion barrels were discovered 1.5 Kilometers below ground in the Thar Desert. In this remote, undeveloped area, the oil needed to be transported to refineries 700 km away, without roads or rail.
In all, the transfer solution had to cross a variety of urban and rural landscapes, as well as 34 major rivers. The highly viscous composition of the oil only complicated matters, as it solidified to a hard wax as soon as it reached the ground surface. In order for the oil to flow, it had to be heated to and maintained at a temperature of 65° C (150° F).
To be as safe, reliable, and economical as possible, the best transfer option was determined to be, an underground pipeline employing a sophisticated engineering system known as the “Skin-Effect Heat Management System” (SEHMS).
Cairn tapped Pentair Thermal Management to help implement the Mangala Development Pipeline Project, leaning on the company’s technical expertise and localized presence in India. Pentair held a strong track record with similar projects, making it uniquely qualified to execute the complex engineered system.
The Heat Management Solution
Pentair Thermal Management designed and engineered a custom implementation of its Raychem STS proprietary heat management system. As the backbone of the underground pipeline, it maintains the flow of the crude oil at an elevated temperature, irrespective of changes in environmental conditions.
The Mangala pipeline consists of a 24” pipeline buried 1 meter below the ground and thermally protected with three different insulation layers. The insulation minimizes heat loss, prevents corrosion, and reduces any potential physical damage to the pipeline.
An Integrated Effort
Pentair teams in Mumbai, India and Houston, Texas, US worked daily with the engineering teams at Cairn to design and implement the important and challenging application. The collaboration was vital to progress on a project that would take over five years to complete.
Throughout the development, Cairn took great care with regard to the regions social and environmental impact. While the shortest available route for the pipeline was sought, a direct line would have run through the Gulf of Kutch, home to a fragile marine ecosystem. Cairn engineers extended the pipeline route by 75 km in order to avoid the area, ensuring its conservation.
From an engineering standpoint, the ability to bury and submerge the pipeline while not adversely affecting the performance of the HMS enabled Cairn to minimize the chances of a potential leak or spill due to interference.
Economically, the Mangala Pipeline Development has been a major boon to India. The resulting domestic oil production reduces India’s import bill by more than $6 billion USD each year. Besides affording the country energy self-sufficiency, the crude oil has enabled India to enter the market as an exporter.
“Technology like Pentair’s “Skin-Effect” Heat Management System will be increasingly vital as the search for energy resources requires going to areas that are remote and undeveloped.”
- Franco Chakkalakal – Global Director, STS, Pentair Thermal Management