In 1987, Hobas Pipe’s fiberglass pipe factory was completed in Houston and began supplying the U.S. market with installations throughout Texas, including Houston, Corpus Christi and Odessa.
Kimberly Paggioli, P.E., Vice President of Engineering comments, “West Texas Water Supply System (WTWSS), which operated near Odessa, Texas, expanded its distribution lines using 18-inch diameter, fiberglass pipes. Two separate lines were included in the project to deliver brackish water, originating from the Capitan Reef, for use in secondary recovery processes. Both pipelines utilized minimum pipe classes PN 150 (maximum 150 psi operating pressure), SN 36 (minimum 36 psi pipe stiffness) delivered in 20 foot sections and field assembled with HOBAS standard FWC couplings.”
This installation, one of Hobas’s first fiberglass pipes manufactured in their Houston, Texas plant in 1987 was found to still be in use and exceeding ASTM standards over 20 years later.
The significance of this find is that at more than twice the useful lifetime for other commonly used pipe materials under the same environmental conditions, this fiberglass pipe line has continued to exceed its initial installation requirements.
Background: 1987 Installation
In June of 1987, Hobas announced the grand opening of their new fiberglass pipe facility in Houston, Texas. At the same time, a large provider servicing the west Texas oil field was in need of new service lines. The corrosion resistance of the pipe was a perfect match for the demanding environment.
West Texas Water Supply System (WTWSS), a privately owned commercial water delivery system serving the oil industry, was expanding its distribution lines. Two separate18-inch diameter lines were included in their project to deliver brackish water originating from the Capitan Reef Complex Aquifer to oil fields in the Midland – Odessa area. The WTWSS lines have changed ownership over the years, since being acquired by Centurion Pipeline L.P., which in turn have been acquired by Lotus Midstream LLC.
The groundwater pumped from this aquifer, located in southeast New Mexico and far west Texas, is transferred to regional oil fields for use in secondary recovery processes. This brackish water has a temperature normally around 90-95 degrees F and is contaminated with hydrogen sulfide and other minerals. Due to the water’s high salinity characteristics, pipes made of other commonly used materials experience a much shorter lifespan under these same conditions, as WTWSS had learned.
Engineers designing this project chose Hobas CCFRPM pipe because of its inherent outstanding corrosion resistance. The WTWSS management expected a 50-year or longer service life for the Hobas fiberglass pipes in this environment. Both pipelines utilized minimum pipe classes PN 150 (maximum 150 psi operating pressure), SN 36 (minimum 36 psi pipe stiffness).
For installation, the Hobas CCFRPM was delivered in 20 foot sections and field-assembled with HOBAS standard FWC couplings. The first phase was a 21,000-foot extension line to supply a Chevron field near Goldsmith, TX. Field tested to 185 psi, the line was put into service delivering 35,000 barrels per day. The second phase of their project included a 124,000 foot extension to supply a Texaco field on Mabee Ranch north of Midland, TX. Each of the lines was actually capable of delivering 120,000 barrels per day at capacity. Under normal operation, these lines are under between 75 and 100 psi of pressure.
For over 20 years, these two lines were ‘out of sight — out of mind.’
Urgent Need and Rapid Response
But then an adjacent pipeline (unrelated to Hobas Pipe) made of another material ruptured, damaging several segments of one of the existing Hobas lines. Within one week, the Hobas Pipe Houston plant manufactured and shipped 80 feet of new 18-inch diameter CCFRPM pipe to the west Texas repair site.
It is rare that segments of historical lines are available for testing before they reach their full life expectancy, as most remain in use for their lifetime. In this instance, because the repair was adjacent to the 1987 installation, Hobas was lucky enough to receive some of the 21.5-year-old pipe back at their plant where they determined that it was one of the first fiberglass pipes manufactured in the USA in November of 1987 a Hobas Pipe Quality Control Supervisorcommented,
“Throughout the process, HOBAS was lucky enough to receive some of the over 20-year-old pipe back in September 2009. We reviewed the files we keep onsite for all manufactured products and we were able to determine that this was one of the first CCFRPM pipes manufactured in the USA back in November of 1987.”
It is rare that segments of line are available for testing as most remain in use for their lifetime.
ASTM and TIME Proven
“We (Stork Materials Technology) were hired to evaluate the mechanical properties of the HOBAS pipe 21.5 years after the original manufacturing date. We performed a variety of tests in accordance with the ASTM standards for the product. In all cases, the results of these tests exceed the original requirements,” determined Terry Wilt, Metals & Product Testing Department Manager, Stork Materials Technology, Houston.
More importantly, the proof is in the performance.
“When the line was designed, we were told that the HOBAS fiberglass pipes were chosen because of their inherent outstanding corrosion resistance,” remembers Turkopp. “The brackish water temperature is normally around 90 to 95° F and is also contaminated with hydrogen sulfide. This corrosive environment has limited the useful lifetime for other pipe materials in the WTWSS to less than 15 years. Past WTWSS installations have included concrete steel cylinder, asbestos cement and steel pipes with various linings and coatings. WTWSS management expects a 50 year or longer service life for the HOBAS fiberglass pipes.”
The line was field tested over 20 years ago at 175 psi, without a leak, and was subsequently put into service. Over the years there was little need to monitor the line. It performed well and was, as the saying goes, ‘out of sight, out of mind’.
Best Fiberglass Pipe
Onsite operations personnel were also pleased with the pipe’s behavior. “We have not had any problems; this is our best line for what we use it for,” personnel commented. “We’ve got 20 miles of it in operation. Line is under pressure at anywhere between 75 and 100 psi.”
“Actually, there haven’t been any problems since the installation of that line, no problems whatsoever, until this occurred and this was a third party incident. That’s a good pipe.”
Quickly repaired, this line is once again, ‘out of sight — out of mind’ for many more years. To date Hobas has provided over 800,000 feet of pressure pipe in the USA alone.
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