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Cooking on gas, or how future energy sources will shape the pipe industry



Plastic Pipes Conference Association # 2012 Barcelona

Hugues Haubruge

The days of cheap and easy oil are gone. While peak oil might not be upon us yet, the increasing costs and complexity of oil extraction will cause the production of conventional crude to plateau in the next decades, driving the adoption of alternative energy sources. Among these, hydrocarbons still hold the lion’s share however. Coal and its derivatives are making a comeback while natural gas, already accounting for more than 20% of the world energy supply, is on its way to become the dominant energy source for the second half of this century. Tight gas, shale gas, coalbed gas, sour gas and biogas : under these multiple avatars, the gas industry is already busy reinventing itself to face the future demand. Through the perspective of an oil and gas major, this paper intends to review how the rise of non-conventional gas sources will affect the global pipe industry. From deep water flow lines to CO2 capture and storage, new challenges on the pipe materials and structures indeed abound. Closer to the distribution networks, the handling of biogas currently lends itself to normalization efforts. And finally, the advent of ethane-based ethylene from shale gas and coal-to-olefins processes hold the promise to change the fundamentals of pipe materials production itself.

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