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Teplomag: Heat tracing for long and medium-length pipelines, and reservoirs

By M.L. Strupinskiy, PhD

Director of Special Systems and Technologies

Modern oil production and transportation is characterized by the desire to get the maximum out of any investment made, which means using the newest materials and technologies. One of the more successful examples of this is the heating of pipelines and reservoirs by use of heating cables.

It is usual that the kinematic viscosity of materials transported through pipelines is highly dependent upon their temperature. In addition, solid precipitates can form at some temperatures and the product may even freeze, which causes total pipeline stoppage and product can only be reanimated at significant expenditure.

Heating systems for pipelines and reservoirs are the only solution to this problem. They have been used for a comparatively long time, but have only been used more widely since the appearance of reasonably priced heating cables. The main task of any such system is to maintain the temperature of the product being transported

Special Systems and Technologies, or SST, is a leader on the market for electric heating of pipelines, storage facilities, instruments, various pumps for oil and all types of oil-products, and other technology, including that used in areas where there is danger of explosion (temperature maintenance and freezing prevention). SST produces a full complement of heating cables (self-regulatory, resistive, zonal, high and mid-temperature), as well as control equipment and other components for even the most difficult technical solutions. Self-regulatory, resistive and zonal cables form the basic Teplomag system. In addition, SST produces heating impulse tubing for stabilizing the temperature of selected gases, which is delivered to the site on drums, although a section of appropriate length is determined and cut on location. Since 2001, SST has produced the SKIN-system for heating pipeline of unlimited length; this system is unique within Russia and can be used on or under ground, under water and in zones where there is a hazard of explosion. SST products are licensed for use in explosion hazard zones in Ukraine, Kazakhstan and in Belarus.

Thanks to 10 years of production, project design, assembly, testing and lunch experience, SST can offer its clients top-quality service, efficiency and dependability in all its service, independent of order volume. Thanks to its Project Centre and Assembly Division, SST offers a full range of turn-key solutions. It is also of great importance that the company has over 100 dealers across all regions of Russia. In more crucial regions which are near oil production locations the company has representative offices offering nearly the full range of services that the main office offers. These rep offices have their own warehouses. Examples are: Teplolux-Tyumen (Tyumen), Teplolux-Siberia (Novosibirsk), Teplolux-SbB (St. Petersburg), and Teplolux-Yug (Rostov-on-Don). SST also has large branch offices in the capital cities of Kazakhstan, Belarus, and Ukraine and also delivers to Western Europe. A portion of the company's products have TUV certificates.

The project to heat trunk lines leading to the terminal at Primorsk (part of the Baltic Pipeline System), well illustrates all stages in the implementation of an electric heating project.

First a questionnaire to find out the client's needs is filled out. During the analysis phase this questionnaire will be used to make preliminary heating calculations.

After this, the type of heating cable and necessary accessories for laying them are chosen and the control/regulation mechanism is chosen. For this project, the specifications can be seen in the picture. At this stage, too, further Teplomag calculations are made and a preliminary cost estimate is made.

After that, project documentation is prepared. Project development begins by completing calculations and modelling the elements of the system, and ends in the publication of the full complement of project documentation, including the budget.

In heat calculations and the preparation of project and construction documentation the most accurate computer technology is used, including specialized programs that were designed to help prepare quality solutions to difficult questions in a short period of time. Sometimes heat modelling of difficult technical constructions is completed using the end elements method (EEM).

Based on project documentation, all heating elements, controls and related devices are produced at the SST base. All undergo 14-stage quality control testing before delivery.

Finally, a qualified team from the assembly department installs, tests and launches the turn-key system. The ready-to-use Teplomag system undergoes transmission testing, which is carried out by the SST laboratory. The lab is certified by the Energy Inspectorate of the Russian Federation.

In the guarantee and post-guarantee phases, SST service specialists ensure that the installed system works correctly. Satisfied with our work, many large companies are placing additional orders for new Teplomag systems at additional locations. Amongst our customers are such well known firms as LUKoil, YUKOS, Transneft, Tatneft, Bashneft, Schlumberger and hundreds of other companies both in Russia and abroad.

Every object we work on demands a unique approach. And sometimes we get some rather difficult assignments, but that just makes them more interesting to tackle. Our specialists have experience both in terms of the types of systems they have designed and created and in terms of assignment difficulty. Heating chemically active products at Solikamsk magnesium factory required a highly dependable system and a doubly controlled heating regime was installed. But close work with the factory and a high degree of professionalism on the project yielded positive results. A heating system was installed and is working without hitches.

At Kharyaginsk oil field assembly was completed in temperatures of minus 45 degrees Celsius. SST specialists prepared the project and placed the necessary equipment - including control boxes - to extremely short time scales. And the result is 10 kilometers of pipeline for water supply which is constantly heated.

At the Khabarovsk refinery around two kilometres of railway oil loading terminal are being heated. Due to the technical complexity of the construction of these stations, our engineers developed a new device to deal with traversing joints. In addition to the oil loading terminal, heating systems were also installed on approximately four kilometers of pipelines and reservoirs of the liquefied gas block of the refinery.

A good example of SST's specialists working with the client on development and delivery is the production of skin-effect heating systems (abroad, the acronym SECT, which stands for Skin Effect Current Tracing, is often used.) SECT is really the only choice available for heating pipeline systems more than eight to 10 kilometers. Standard pipe heating systems of the same length would require an electric line to be run along the length of the pipe and the installation of several transformer substations at intervals, causing the cost of the project rise dramatically.

The possibilities for the use of SECT are truly large. For serially produced heating systems length limits are between 25 to 30 kilometers, without the construction of an accompanying electrical network. The main difficulty with SECT lies in the use of high voltage systems (three to five kV) for powering the system. So far, there are only a few systems in Russia which are heated with skin-effect systems, and these were built for Yamburggazodobycha over 10 years ago. It should be added, that SST currently has the technology to produce SECT systems 50 to 60 kilometers long - the longest in the world.

The SST team actively participates in seminars, scientific/practical conferences and exhibitions both within Russian and abroad. Specialized Systems and Technologies has been given 75 awards for development work, production organization and delivery both by ministries of the Russian Federation and at international and many regional exhibitions.

SST leadership in technology, its full range of services from project planning through system installation, its high quality production and qualified personnel have attracted a large number of clients - individuals and various firms and project companies; all this signifies mutually successful business relationships.

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