Success Story


Management Expertise and Steel-Reinforced Pipe Surmount Challenging Bolivian Jungle Application

The Challenge

Almost four hours from Santa Cruz, Bolivia, The Los Cusis oil field is located deep in the Amazon rainforest. The area’s heavy rainfall often causes flooding, which can make construction projects expensive and difficult. Recently, a major Bolivian oil and gas company with wells in the area needed to build a pipeline to convey highly corrosive produced water approximately 7.5 mi (12 km). The new line needed to be durable enough to operate effectively under cyclic pressure conditions, and it would have to be installed on a right-of-way with a water table of less than 3 ft (.09 m). Without the use of specialized equipment in this rainy area, installation trenches left open too long can quickly fill with water and collapse, resulting in costly project delays. Because of these conditions, it was critical that the pipeline installation time be minimized to maintain the project’s schedule and budget.

The Solution

A FlexSteel project management team traveled to Bolivia to help develop an effective plan for the company’s challenging application. Working closely with the company, the team also helped establish a work schedule to ensure that crucial project deadlines would be met. As a result of this collaboration, the company selected FlexSteel 3-inch line pipe rated at 2,250 psi (155 bar) for the project. Because of FlexSteel’s signature durable steel core, the pipe can tolerate cyclic pressures without being derated. The pipe’s corrosion resistant polyethylene liner also reliably conveys highly corrosive produced water without the need to conduct specialty maintenance programs. And because FlexSteel can be quickly installed without specialty bedding materials, trenches would be open for shorter periods, resulting in fewer rain-related collapses. To further boost installation efficiency and reduce time to service, FlexSteel’s midline and end fittings would be used to make connections in a process employing a specialized hydraulic compression technology that eliminates onsite welding.

The Result

FlexSteel installed a 7.46-mi (12-km) pipeline only using 13 midline connections and two end fittings. This substantially reduced the time and cost required to complete the installation. The successful testing of the new pipeline relieved the company’s concerns about FlexSteel’s composite construction, which were based on their previous experience with a fiber-reinforced spoolable pipe from another provider that had suffered coil stress-fracturing. In addition, because of FlexSteel’s durable construction, the company avoided the expenses associated with leasing dedicated containers for shipping, a measure required to safeguard fiber-reinforced spoolable pipe.