Oil Refinery Seawater Cooling System GRP Return Pipe Repair
When a 3 metre diameter GRP pipeline in an oil refinery seawater cooling system was discovered to be leaking and replacing the damaged section was given a timeframe of several weeks, a rapid repair method was instead sought to keep lost production to a minimum.
Case Study Overview
Site Oil refinery
Location Saudi Arabia
Pipe Type 3000mm GRP Pipeline
Repair Type Leak repair
Products Superfast Copper Epoxy Putty Stick, Sylmasta AB Original Epoxy Putty
The oil refinery was one of the biggest in the Middle East, processing approximately 400,000 barrels per day. Cooling processes at the refinery relied on a seawater cooling system extracting water from the Red Sea and transporting it to and from the site via a series of underground 3000mm GRP pipelines.
When the ground above a return pipe was noticed to be wet, the line in question was isolated and excavated. A hole was dug to access the top 50 percent of the pipe. The surrounding earth was saturated, indicating the line was suffering from a significant leak.
The scale of the problem only became apparent when pressure to the line was turned back on. So much water escaped from several leak areas that the hole was instantly flooded. Clearly, the pipe could not go back into service whilst suffering such leakage levels.
With the line out of operation, the oil producing capacity of the refinery was severely reduced. An estimated timeframe for replacing the damaged section was three weeks. The refinery needed a rapid repair method to cut downtime and have oil production returned to full as soon as possible.
Water was pumped out of the flooded chamber and the GRP pipe left to dry. It was decided to use two epoxy putties to make the seawater cooling system repair for the speed and ease with which they could be applied to such a big pipeline.
Superfast Copper Epoxy Putty Stick was used for the smaller holes. Although designed for copper pipe repair, Superfast Copper adheres to all materials and comes with a five minute cure time. In the heat of Saudi Arabia, this cure was further accelerated.
Chunks of putty were cut from the stick, kneaded by hand and then pushed into the holes on the pipe whilst still soft. Within a couple of minutes, Superfast Copper began to harden, permanently sealing the smaller leak areas.
A putty with a longer work time was required for the bigger holes, so that more could be mixed and then applied over a larger area without the threat of premature curing. Sylmasta AB Original Epoxy Putty was chosen for its two-hour cure and availability in bulk quantities beyond a 114g stick.
The two parts of Sylmasta AB were mixed together and applied. These successfully sealed the larger holes in the GRP pipe. The line was then left for 24 hours to allow the putties to achieve maximum properties.
After 24 hours, the seawater cooling system was turned back on. Once it was established that no water was now leaking from the pipe, the line was buried.
The refinery were delighted with the repair being completed in only two days and for a cost of less than £100. This represented a huge monetary saving on replacing the damaged section, as well as ensuring the refinery lost minimal production time.
Fast working epoxy putty used to quickly seal smaller holes in pipework
Sylmasta AB Original
Epoxy putty with a two hour work time for filling larger holes without the threat of premature curing
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