The international liquefied natural gas (LNG) trade looks into boom years ahead: more than 40 million metric tons of annual capacity from greenfield projects worldwide is slated to go into operation over the next ten years. As a result in Qatar, LNG exports from the state’s Port of Ras Laffan are expected to reach 77 million tons per year by the end of 2010, making the Port the world’s largest LNG export terminal, over three times larger in capacity than its closest rival.
The global expansion of the LNG business bodes well for stainless steel pipe, as gas from wells is becoming increasingly sour and requires higher corrosion resistance from pipes than carbon steel can provide. The expansion bodes extremely well for Erndtebrücker Eisenwerk (EEW) of Germany, the world’s biggest producer of large-diameter stainless steel pipes. Today EEW’s business is largely in the oil and gas sector.
Serving its share in the Qatar LNG boom, EEW plays a major role in the Port of Ras Laffan expansion, supported by their long-time stainless plate supplier Outokumpu: EEW supplies the large-diameter pipes for the lines of Qatar Gas Berth 6, with Outokumpu as the stainless plate supplier for the pipes.
Berth 6 is a new docking facility at Ras Laffan. To do its share of loading the Port’s projected 1,120,000 cubic meters of LNG per year, Berth 6 needs 18km of EEW/Outokumpu pipe running in several parallel lines between the storage tanks and loading points.
To manufacture the pipes at its Erndtebrück plant in Germany, EEW takes more than 4,600 metric tons of Outokumpu plate of grade 1.4301/1.4307 (304/304L) and 12.7mm (0.5ʺ) thick. Outokumpu can produce this plate thickness both using the coil process and at its plate mills. In this case, EEW reaps benefit in production welding the pipes mainly from coil-process plate (CPP), while producing a small volume of the pipes from quarto plates.
James Heather, EEW’s Sales Director, comments on Outokumpu’s range of products: “With Outokumpu, we have one partner for both CPP and quarto plates.” EEW and Outokumpu have partnered earlier in major gas projects, and Mr. Heather sees more opportunities for two-way cooperation. “We have been very successful together in subsea pipelines,” he offers as an example.
The delivery of the Qatar Gas Berth 6 pipes is scheduled for completion by mid-summer 2008.