Danish underwater gas pipes to Indonesian offshore project

NKT Flexibles in December started the delivery of three 245m flexible pipes to the West Seno oil and gas production field off the east coast of Kalimantan, the Indonesian part of Borneo.
      The pipes are so-called risers, pipes which will transport the oil and gas from a floating production platform to a storage and offloading tanker. The technical installation will be carried out by Hyundai Heavy Industries and the Australian company Clough Offshore.
      The delivery comprises three risers. One is 6 inche inner diameter while the two others are 12 inche inner diameter. The smaller of the three pipes is constructed to withstand a heat of 125 degrees Celsius, while the two larger ones are heat resistant up to 65 degrees Celsius.
      The Danish-Norwegian company is one of only three companies world wide specialized in production of flexible pipelines and approved of by the major oil companies of the world.
      The unique competence of NKT Flexibles is based on the know-how held by its Danish mother company’s main business of supplying fortified sea cables for transporting electricity, while it works closely with the Norwegian company Stolt Offshore, which has a 49 percent share in the company. Stolt is specialised in underwater engineering assignments and the pipes are often part of a comprehensive offshore installation contract.
      According to Mr. Michael C. Hjorth, Managing Director of NKT Flexibles, know-how within materials, construction and production is not enough to be competitive. It is also essential to know the properties of the material to be transported within the pipes as well as what external factors like pressure and current will affect he pipe.
      “Last, but not least, we must know what factors are of priority for the client. We operate within a market segment, where safety, reliability and future supply capabilities are parameters of varying importance in combination with a competitive price.”
      “The unique characteristics of the pipes are their flexibility. Although they are based on several layers of steel and polymer materials, the pipes are still flexible contrary to what is perceived possible,” explains Mr. Hjorth.
      “But when connected to a 300m long tanker which is moving up and down on the surface it will follow the movements.”
      The pipes being delivered to the Indonesian gas field West Seno are relatively short compared to other pipes delivered by NKT Flexibles, which has delivered flexible flowlines several kilometres in length. A flowline is a pipe laid on the seabed following the contours of the seabed.
      “The longest pipe we have delivered so far is a 7.4 kilometres long flowline laid down in the British part of the North Sea. But we expect to break the record this spring when we will deliver a 10 inches flowline of more than 8 kilometres produced in one piece,” Mr. Hjorth says.
      Producing the pipes in one piece is of importance not only to the price but also to the technical vulnerability of the pipe.
      NKT Flexibles success’ depends primarily on how many new offshore oil and gas exploration projects are established world wide, secondarily on whether the company is able to match the specifications of each individual project. For the past few years, the price of crude oil has generally been low, the exploration companies have been reluctant to invest in new production fields. Consequently, the three main suppliers world wide have fought fiercely for the few projects which have been tendered.
      “For NKT Flexibles, our orders have for some years been far lower than our production capacity,” Michael Hjorth admits.
      “We have, however, recently scrapped our growth strategy and instead geared our business towards a lower demand level. With the rising level of oil exploration activity expected for the coming few years, we thus stand a good chance of improving our bottom line profitability,” he adds.
      NKT Flexibles employ 225 people and currently has a turnover of some 260 mill Danish kroner per year.
      More information about the company is available on

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