Case Studies

Tata Steel, Rotherham

  • Sector: Gas
  • Product: Excel (PE100)
  • Client: Tata Steel
  • Contractor: J Murphy & Sons

Tata Steel replaced the 80-year-old steel gas pipeline at its Rotherham plant using a combination of GPS 7bar PE piping and steel piping to maximise cost-efficiency and ease of installation.

Tata Steel took the decision to phase out the use of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) at its Rotherham plant in favour of natural gas, a choice that has seen the company make a considerable investment in a new natural gas pipeline that will run underground throughout the site.

The new 2.4km polyethylene pipeline with some steel sections will be capable of increased gas flow to allow the phase out of LPG.

Explains Don Mander from Tata Steel: “The existing 24” diameter steel pipe has been in use for around 80 years so needed to be replaced as it was nearing the end of its serviceable life. Meanwhile, the site’s reliance on LPG was considered untenable because of the need to maintain secure storage for the LPG in order to avoid any safety risk for our own personnel and residents living in the vicinity.  The combination of these two factors lead to one obvious conclusion: by replacing the existing gas pipeline with a new pipeline capable of carrying more gas to site at higher pressures we can both update our infrastructure and phase out use of LPG in a single capital expenditure project.”

The original plan had been to replace the old steel pipeline with an entirely new steel pipeline, but discussions with GPS PE Pipe Systems, soon convinced Tata Steel that using PE100 piping for most sections of the pipeline would provide a viable alternative with significant advantages. Over the past few years there has been a shift towards the use of orange 7 bar PE100 pipe because it complies with GIS PL2 Part 8 and has been proven in intermediate pressure applications.  Like most gas pipelines, the Tata Steel pipeline requires different pressure levels at various sections so there were significant cost and installation advantages to using an orange PE100 piping for most of the installation.

The cost benefits of substituting PE100 piping for steel piping were clear – even for a steel producer! – but the advantages of changing the specification were more wide ranging. The pipe’s flexibility makes installation easier and its durability means that it will have a service life of at least 100 years. It is the jointing method for connecting sections of pipe that delivers the biggest cost and ease of installation benefits, however, as the lengths of PE pipe are butt fused together to form strings before being laid in an open trench installation.  This reduces installation times, avoids the need for expensive steel fittings and removes the requirement for x-raying every joint which is normally carried out routinely for steel pipe installations to verify the integrity of each joint. Where PE pipe meets sections of steel pipe steel fittings can be used and verified in the usual way.

Installation of the new pipeline began in January 2012 and contractor, J Murphy & Sons Ltd, installed over 2100 metres of 315mm and 400mm Orange Excel (PE100) pipe in SDR11 to accommodate areas of the site that require pressures of 2-7 bar.  Only areas of the pipeline that are close to domestic properties and run above a river have been specified in steel to ensure stringent safety standards. The pipeline was fully operational by the end of July 2012 and Tata Steel will utilise its full 7 bar capabilities from 2013 when the fuel supply switches from LPG to natural gas.

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