R&D Initiatives and Cooperation
We do extensive R&D to deliver state-of-the-art products and solutions for our customers. In 2013, our corporate R&D centres, the Russian Research Institute for the Tube and Pipe Industries (RosNITI) in Chelyabinsk (Russia) and R&D centre in Houston (USA), in collaboration with dedicated research institutions and universities in Russia and the United States, carried out over 200 projects related to new product and process development along with efficiency improvement.
TheR&D centres cooperated systematically in the following key areas:
- the selection of steel grades, lean alloying, and heat treatment process development to provide specific properties and improve reliability of OCTG;
- product durability in operation and development of methodologies for steel testing and selection of materials to be used in extreme conditions;
- computer modelling for pipe piercing and rolling process development to streamline production, improve pipe surface quality and dimensions, and decrease machiningtime;
- pipe forming and welding processes development to manufacture products with higher strength and wall thickness.
To foster innovation and boost our R&D potential, in Spring 2013 we signed an agreement with the Skolkovo Fund to open the ТМК R&D Centre, TMK’s third R&D facility, in the Skolkovo Innovation Centre. The R&D Centre has already engaged in research for new solutions in materials, coatings, threaded connections and the design of casing, drill and tubing columns for unconventional hydrocarbon field development, in working out effective methods of large diameter pipe production and application for new-generation long-distance hydrocarbon transportation, in designing cutting-edge down-hole tools and accessories for unconventional hydrocarbon field development.
In June 2013, TMK and Gazprom Neft, which develops fields in adverse climactic and geological conditions, approved an R&D cooperation programme for 2013–2015 to provide the latter with highly efficient domestically manufactured products, including new types of high-performance low-temperature and corrosion-resistant casing and tubing pipe and tubular products for oil and gas pipelines with inner coating.
As part of the programme, we develop production processes and perform pilot testing of oil-well tubing in the presence of corrosion, salts, abrasion, or paraffin deposits, and introduce in-house automated systems to monitor tubing life cycle. The use of weldless connection of pipelines, lubricant-free threaded connections, and epoxy-based surface coatings to protect inner pipeline joints gives our partner an opportunity to obtain import-substituting products contributing to the competitive advantages of their projects.
In addition to new product shipments, Gazprom Neft will also benefit from our oilfield services and technical support.
The most important R&D projects implemented in 2013 included:
- development of a new composite material and a technology for its application on threaded connections, successful piloting of Green Well solid lubricants and coatings for threaded connections;
- development of a production technologyfor sheet and large diameter pipe with improved strain capacity, allowing pipelines to be laid in highly seismic regions and active tectonic zones, and mitigating the risk of pipeline failure in case of an earthquake;
- extension of the vacuum insulated tubing range, which prevents permafrost thawing and wellhead failure. We deliver vacuum insulated tubing of a wide variety of sizes and materials. Vacuum insulated tubing is also used for thermal activation of formations and high-viscosity oil production through pumping an appropriate heat-transfer medium, as well as superheated steam of up to 450 degrees Centigrade, down the well. Highly effective thermal insulation minimises heat losses;
- development and introduction of a technology for extended transition zone of a drill pipe upset, cutting the number of operations and ensuring higher reliability and durability of drill pipe in adverse conditions.