Installation of World's Strongest Gas Linepipe Demonstrated

Exxon Mobil and TransCanada PipeLines Limited successfully demonstrated the field installation of the world's strongest linepipe, X120. One-mile of X120 linepipe was installed as part of a longer pipeline looping operation in Northern Alberta in February 2004. The X120 linepipe was jointly developed under an agreement among ExxonMobil, Nippon Steel Corporation (NSC), and Mitsui & Co. Ltd. (Mitsui). X120 steel is 50 percent stronger than the strongest linepipe steel commonly used for gas transmission pipelines today (X80) and is expected to substantially reduce pipeline project costs.

The use of natural gas is growing worldwide and is expected to represent an increasing portion of the total energy supply. Many gas resources that will be needed to accommodate this growing demand are in remote areas and will require cost-effective transportation options before they can be brought to market. The use of X120 gas pipelines offers ExxonMobil the potential to substantially improve the economics of developing these resources and may be an enabling technology in some cases.

ExxonMobil teamed with TransCanada to demonstrate the suitability of the new material for use in commercial applications. NSC supplied the steel, and the pipeline was constructed to TransCanada specifications and Canadian Standards using welding wire and procedures developed by ExxonMobil. Construction of the one-mile pipeline demonstrated that the X120 steel is compatible with standard pipeline construction practices, even under severe Canadian winter conditions. The construction rate was comparable to rates expected for winter installation and the weld defect rate was lower than rates commonly reported for major pipeline projects.

Other contributors to the success of this project were Louisbourg Pipelines, the installation contractor, CRC-Evans, the welding equipment supplier that worked with ExxonMobil on development of the welding procedures, and the Alberta Energy and Utilities Board, the pipeline safety regulator who authorized the assets to be fit for operation.