Coiled "tubing" is a rapidly growing pipeline technology. Until recently coiled tubing was used primarily by service companies for coiled tubing workovers. As the technology expanded the industry began using coiled tubing for other applications such as drilling, coring, logging, well clean out operations and artificial lift. As the tubing mills began producing larger sizes, it became possible to consider using coiled tubing as pipelines. The application of coiled tubing as a pipeline began in the Gulf of Mexico. The early results supported the application as being a low cost, time saving, economic alternative to conventional welded pipe for flowlines. Coiled pipe applications have been used in 4 to 100 feet of water in the Gulf of Mexico area and the installation techniques have varied significantly.
In 1994, the Gulf of Suez Petroleum Company (GUPCO), a joint venture company between Amoco Production Co. and the Egyptian General Petroleum Co., embarked on the first international application of the 3.5 inch coiled pipe using a dynamic lay procedure. The cost savings from the first two jobs were estimated to be in excess of 70% when compared to the traditional lay vessel charges. Engineering design and field experience was shared at the Middle East Oil Show in Bahrain during 1995 (SPE 29786). Subsequently GUPCO has taken a leading role in the application of coiled pipe technology with the 1996 installations using the first production of 4.5 inch coiled pipe, one of which is a record setting 65,000 ft. high pressure water supply line. Cost savings of this larger diameter coiled pipe are still yielding 55% cost savings over the conventional barge lay techniques.
The Gulf of Suez Petroleum Company has been using coiled pipe technology since 1994. Since that time the technology has grown with larger diameters being offered. These larger pipes have enabled the company to examine additional opportunities in the Gulf.
To date the company has installed 45,000 feet of 3.5 inch and 72.000 feet of 4.5 inch coiled pipe. In 1994 GUPCO embarked on its first two coiled pipeline projects using the 3.5 inch material. By 1995 a new larger diameter coiled pipe was being offered. The 4.5 inch material offered additional application in the Gulf and GUPCO pursued three additional projects. In January of 19% the company installed the world's first and longest 4.5 inch coiled pipeline.