Premium Threads Prevent Accidents

March 14, 2010

   The vibrant drilling market has ensured growing demand for premium thread connections with improved technical and operational properties which minimize drilling risks.

   Still, progress in this area is slower than would be hoped and foreign companies remain the main consumers of these goods. In addition, the market is filled with manufacturers who offer so-called pseudo-premium products – relatively cheap thread connections of questionable quality.

   Russia’s oil industry map is dotted with accidents involving drilling and well casing pipes. The most severe of these – and the most costly – is drillstring breakage. This can be due to both technical issues (fatigue damage from cyclical loads or excessive tensile pressure without regard for safety margins taking into account wear on drill string parts) and to the low quality of the drill string itself and its threads.

The Non-Standard Segment

   Thread connections largely define the reliability of drilling, casing and on-site tubing pipes. Today, drilling and well development generally employ specially-design bevelled thread connections (BTC) or interlocking thread connections (ITC). However, as projects grow in difficulty and oil and gas production shifts to more difficult regions (Yamal, Eastern Siberia and offshore), more advanced BTC and ITC designs with high reliability, durability and serviceable life are required. This has done much to spur the Russian market for premium class thread connections which have better screwing properties and higher toleration for bending, tensile and compression loads, as well as high temperatures and pressures. Another difference between standard and premium thread connections is the independence of the sealing surface from the thread itself; this guarantees more reliable waterproof and, particularly, gas-proof properties.

   The biggest global manufacturers of thread connections which have a presence in Russia are Italia’s Tenaris and France’s Vallourec (with its VAM series thread connections which are highly popular in Russia).

   There is only one domestic premium thread manufacturer – TMK Premium Service, a subdivision of TMK. TMK experts have already designed and launched production of an entire family of thread connections which are supplied to both Russian and overseas oil&gas production companies.

Beware of Pseudo Premium

   The biggest problem on the premium thread connections market is the activity of pseudo-premium manufacturers who are emerging around the lucrative market. The majority of these firms do no research of their own, preferring simply to copy the intellectual property of leading Russian and global companies. Their products can be called “premium-class” in name only. This applies to some Eastern Europe companies and virtually all Chinese manufacturers.
Yet despite the many benefits of premium thread connections, the Russian market is dominated by pipes with standard threads made to meet GOST standards (OTTG, OTTM, etc.).

   As mentioned above, foreign companies are the principal consumers of premium thread connections. This situation is found across most of the CIS market. For example, in Kazakhstan almost every local company buys pipes with standard OTTM connections while foreign companies mainly use premium threads (VAM TOP, VAGT, Tenaris Blue, etc.)

   This leads to