Materials Replacing Steel in Oil & Gas Industry

Materials Replacing Steel in Oil & Gas Industry

The oil and gas industry is in the lookout for new materials that can offer a solution to the challenges imparted by the traditionally used one such as steel. While steel and other metals such as aluminum and cast iron are remarkable in terms of strength performance and handling high volumes of oil and gas fluids, a major drawback associated with all these materials is corrosion due to various reasons. Some of these include handling corrosive chemicals, prolonged contact with the high moisture environment (if the pipe is buried underground) or even high temperature and pressure conditions can result in a metal based product being corroded that is followed by development of stress and finally leading to crack the material, many times referred to as stress corrosion cracking(SCC), which can even result in fatal accidents even causing death in some cases. Also, steel is heavy and the need of alternative lightweight materials that can easily be replaced and relocated resulting in lower freight costs are also under being evaluated.

A myriad of advancements to explore alternative materials that can eliminate any corrosive factor and additionally prevent stress corrosion cracking is under progress. Aging pipelines across the globe are considered to be replaced by lightweight composite and plastic-baed pipelines that are less prone to stress corrosion cracking. For oil and gas drilling and gathering lines, reinforced thermoplastic pipes are being considered as a potential replacement of steel to cater high performance operation under extremely high temperatures. Oil and gas industrial flooring and gratings made initially of steel are being replaced with fiberglass alternatives for tough mechanical operating conditions. However steel has been used for decades. Though advancement towards alternative materials are prominent, end users are skeptical to use any alternative materials due to lack of reliability. Additionally, plastics and composites have no specific standardizations and specifications for use in this industry. This further creates the need to develop the alternative materials to replace in certain specific segments.

Though stakeholders that support the use of steel defer to use traditional carbon or stainless or tool steel and instead are modifying the formulation of steel with innovative alloy compositions to enhance the strength of steel and reduce the corrosion aspect. An example to showcase the same is the use of iron steel. This type of steel is being used in oil and gas transmission pipelines where the high pressure and temperature and corrosivity of the constituents would hinder the use of any other material than steel. Hence nano scale additives, nioboium and titanium alloys and iron steel are penetrating and replacing the use of traditional steel in these segments. Oil and Gas firms as well as Engineering companies prefer these materials to high strength plastics to cater their needs of lightweighting, high strength, anti-corrosivity, HPHT applications and low sagging features. In the next few years, innovative technologies are expected to evolve, that can potentially match steel’s performance characteristics. Some of the key potential materials have been discussed in the research.

This research service (RS) depicts the current landscape and the evolving trends in the steel replacement materials development, particularly in oil and gas pipelines. The unique and synergistic approaches are defined below:
• Technical plastics used in the Oil and Gas industry: Polyethylene (Innovative types such as HDPE 3710), Polypropylene, Poly-amide-imide, Polyether ether ketone (PEEK)
• Advanced Composites: Carbon fiber in polymeric matrix, carbon fiber in epoxy matrix, glass fiber in polymeric matrix, aramid fibers in polymeric matrix, Other types of matrices with the three core fibers
• Nanostructured and microalloyed steels: Steel with modified crystalline structure for higher Rockwell hardness
• Innovative Alloys: Titanium and Molybdenum alloys replacing cast iron, aluminium and incoloys
• Iron Steel: Different types of ferrous steels designed with a unique formulation for an anti-corrosive effect in the oil and gas industry
• Nanoadditives: Niobium and carbon nanotube additives to prevent corrosion
This study focused on the following:
• Technology capabilities of alternative materials
• A strategic opportunity evolution showcasing materials with highest potential to replace steel
• Stakeholder activities, influence, industry initiatives, key partnerships and funding opportunities
• Technology development roadmap highlighting the key materials that can evolve in the next few years
• Strategic recommendations for technology developers and end users
• Technology management strategies for alternative material technologies to evolve
• An appendix is also included, comprising lists of major participants of the study and the most notable patents in the field.

  • Executive Summary
    • Research Scope
    • Research Process and Methodology
    • Key Findings
    • Key Attributes Necessary for Materials to Compete With Steel in the Oil & Gas Industry
    • Plastics, Composites, Advanced Steels, and Multilayer Materials are the Key Materials to Compete with Steel
  • Use of Steel in the Oil & Gas Industry
    • Stainless and Carbon Steel as per SAE Standards Are in Demand in the Oil and Gas Industry
    • Both Recycled Materials and Traditional Raw Materials are Currently Used in Steel Production
    • High Malleability and Ductility of Carbon Steel Make it Attractive
    • Stainless Steel Finds Applications in Storage Tanks and Heat Exchangers
    • Tool Steel Faces Challenges With Metal Forming
    • Steel Is Heavy and Associated With High Risks of Corrosion
  • Factors Influencing the Replacement of Steel
    • Oil and Gas Companies and EPC Firms are Key Stakeholders who Impact Decision Making
    • Need to Eliminate Corrosion Acts as a Significant Driver for Adoption of New Materials
    • Environmental Impact Related to Steel Production is a Major Challenge
  • Alternate Materials to Replace Steel
    • Emerging Materials Must Meet Performance Requirements to be Considered for Adoption
    • Some of the Key Materials are Already Being Considered for Use
    • Major Plastics such as PET and Polyamides Are Being Adopted in Pipelines
    • Major Composites Such as Carbon Fibers and Glass Reinforced Composites Are Being Introduced
    • Advanced High Strength Steels Find Applications in Demanding Areas
    • Rig Components, Strings, and Pipelines are the Key Onshore Applications
    • Rig Components, Strings, and FPSOs are the Key Offshore Applications
    • Line Pipe Is the Key Application Under Oil and Gas Wherein Alternative Materials Can Penetrate
  • Innovation Indicators
    • From Funding Perspective, North America is Keen on Exploring New Materials
    • Notable Partnerships Between Material Developers and Oil and Gas Corporates are Prominent Across the Globe
    • Increasing Filing of Patents Focused on Steel Replacement Materials
    • Plastics and Composites Have the Most Patent Filings in the Past Six Years
    • Polymer Developments With Increased Strength Can be Noticed While Carbon and Glass Fiber is of Interest to Oil and Gas Companies
    • Nanosteel and High Strength Ferritic Steels Find Steady Adoption
    • Self-healing Materials and Nanoadditives are Developed as Ad- Hoc Replacements
    • Material Developers Seek Funding to Explore New Materials as Steel Replacements
  • Evaluation of Emerging Opportunities
    • Opportunity Strategic Evaluation: A Key Decision Making Tool to Position Steel Replacement Materials
    • Plastic and Carbon Fiber Manufacturers Need New Ideas to Widen Technology Adoption
    • Emergence of Technical Plastics and Composites Provide Competition to Traditional Metals
  • Technology Development and Adoption Roadmap
    • Materials With Characteristics Similar to that of Steel for Serving as Partial Replacements
    • Emergence of Key Replacement Materials Within the Next 6 Years
  • Analyst Perspectives
    • Strategic Recommendations to Oil and Gas Companies: Potential Adoption Areas of Materials
    • Strategic Recommendations to Material Developers: Showcasing Unmet End User Needs
  • Key Contacts
    • Key Company Contacts
  • Appendix
    • Opportunity Strategy Evaluation-What is it?
    • Plastic Cannot Replace Steel Completely; However, It Does Hold Certain Uniqueness
    • Plastics and Carbon Fiber Composites Provide the Best Options for Steel Replacement
    • Halliburton Energy Company and Shell Oil Company Are the Key Patent Assignees

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