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The deepwater Atlantic triangle of West Africa, Brazil and the U.S. Gulf of Mexico is expected to drive an increase in pipeline capex of nearly 50% over the period from 2012-16, according to a leading analyst.
In its latest ‘Global Perspectives Offshore Pipeline & Control Line Market Report’, U.K.-based analyst Infield Systems said that in the U.S. Gulf, pipeline and control line-related investment was significantly hit by the financial crisis and the Macondo incident with year-on-year declines since 2008.
This year, however, looks likely to see activity return to more historically consistent levels as a result of the upturn in awards, it said. 2012 projects that were awarded in the 2010-11 period include Chevron’s Walker Ridge Jack/St Malo and Big Foot and Anadarko Petroleum’s Keathley Canyon Lucius.
Offshore Brazil, Infield expects the main impact of pre-salt pipelines investment to occur from 2012 onwards with capital expenditure linked to projects related to the Lula, Sapinhoa, Franco and Libra deepwater developments.
Overall the analyst said that the macro environment in 2012 is more positive than in previous years, with the industry appearing to be undergoing an expansionary phase driven by larger exploration and production budgets from operators. This will result in 2012 being a “milestone year”, it predicted, with “unprecedented levels of activity expected in terms of the length of pipeline and control lines being installed”.
Infield continued: “In terms of the pipeline and control lines market, this can be seen by the increase in kilometres laid - 2011 saw a 9.1% increase compared to the previous year. Infield Systems anticipates that more than 89,000 km of pipelines and control lines will be installed during the 2012-16 forecast period.”
A total of 42% of the total investment is expected to be directed towards projects in Europe and Asia. Although the average length and diameter tend to decrease in deepwater environments, due to issues with pipeline integrity and installation limitations, capital expenditure per kilometer increases significantly with greater water depths as a result of the increased project complexity in such environments.
In Europe, subsea and trunkline developments in Norway and the U.K. are forecast to drive investment levels. The U.K. increase will primarily be driven by independent operators developing marginal oil and gas fields via tie-backs to existing infrastructure.
IOCs are also expected to drive growth as they explore the U.K.’s deeper water potential, with Infield highlighting Total’s Laggan gas field and Chevron’s Rosebank oil and gas field.
In Norway, Statoil is forecast to be the primary source of investment and is expected to invest four times more capex than it did in 2007-11 in order to support its increased number of subsea tiebacks and to further the development of new oil and gas fields in frontier areas.
In Asia, Infield said the “unprecedented demand” for hydrocarbons is forcing indigenous national oil companies to increase its investment in pipelines in order to expand the network of connected shallow water gas platforms.
Malaysia’s state-owned Petronas, for example, is expected to invest more than $2.9 billion in pipelines and control lines for shallow water projects, such as the Kebabangan and Bergading area gas fields.
Australasia, meanwhile, is expected to see the largest proportionate growth during the forecast period. Whilst pipeline developments will continue to be installed in shallow waters, the distance from shore is increasing which is driving growth in the pipelines market. Over 5,900 km of pipeline are expected to be installed during 2012-16, compared to just over 1,500 km over 2007-11.
Subsea-related developments such as Inpex’s Ichthys and Chevron’s Gorgon and Wheatstone projects are likely to dominate the future scene, it added.
Infield also highlighted that on a global level, operators Petrobras and Chevron are forecast to account for the largest share of capital investment as a result of the “volume, complexity and increased depth of their projects”. In comparison to other segments of the oil and gas industry, where investment by operator is relatively concentrated to a limited number of oil companies, the pipelines and control lines market has a more diverse client base.