composite pipes of Airborne Oil & Gas

Pipelines for offshore production: Evonik invests in Airborne Oil & Gas

  • Non-corrosive pipelines made of thermoplastic composites for offshore oil & gas
  • Very good mechanical properties due to unidirectional tapes
  • Direct investment in Dutch company by Evonik’s venture capital arm

Through its venture capital arm, Evonik has invested in Airborne Oil & Gas, IJmuiden, The Netherlands. The specialty chemicals group now holds a minority interest in the Dutch company. The investment was made jointly with HPE Growth Capital (HPE) and Shell Technology Ventures. The parties have agreed not to disclose the volume of the transaction. Airborne Oil & Gas (AOG) possesses a special technology for the production of thermoplastic composite pipes for a variety of offshore oil and gas applications.

Flexible and high mechanical stability

The current offshore oil and gas infrastructure consists of either rigid steel pipes or so-called flexibles. The latter comprise of multiple layers of steel and polymers. AOG’s thermoplastic composite pipes dispense with steel entirely and are therefore not susceptible to corrosion. They have extremely high mechanical stability but are also flexible. As an added advantage they are lightweight and can be fabricated in lengths of up to 10 kilometers, which means that AOG’s pipes can be installed relatively simply and cost effectively. Rigid steel lines are welded together from segments that are 10-20 meters long, using highly specialized and costly pipelaying vessels.

200,000 km of globally installed transport lines need replacement

AOG’s thermoplastic composite pipes are suitable for a wide range of offshore applications. A number of operators have qualified AOG’s pipes for offshore oil & gas transport lines, where the benefits of low cost installation and the absence of corrosion offer breakthrough improvements. A considerable amount of the 150,000 to 200,000 km of globally installed transport lines is over 20 years old and in need of replacement, which is an attractive entry point for AOG.

Very good mechanical properties due to unidirectional tapes

AOG’s pipelines consist of three layers: An inner plastic pipe is covered with a composite of unidirectional tapes, which in turn is sheathed by plastic. Polymers such as polyethylene, polypropylene, polyamide 12 and PEEK can be used. Unidirectional tapes are thin plastic bands in which continuous reinforcing fibers are embedded in parallel alignment. When a number of such bands are stacked vertically at defined angles and fused together, it results in an extremely stable composite.

Material layers are melt-fused

AOG’s special expertise lies in the design of both the composite material and the finished pipe, for a variety of applications: All the layers are melt-fused to one another inseparably, which explains the outstanding mechanical properties of the pipelines.

As part of its venture capital activities, Evonik plans to invest a total of EUR 100 million in promising start-ups with innovative technologies and in leading specialized venture capital funds. Evonik currently has holdings in seven start-ups and three funds.

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