Global pipeline construction to boom: report

As world energy demand grows at a staggering rate countries around the globe are attempting to sew up access to dependable sources of fuel from a range of traditional and non-traditional suppliers. In order to gain access to these supplies efficient, inexpensive delivery methods are required.

The end result is the installation of up to 51,000 km of pipeline infrastructure over the next five years, according to the new third edition of The World Offshore Pipelines and Umbilicals Report 2003-2007. The report is published by offshore analysts Douglas-Westwood and offshore data specialists Infield Systems.

The report's lead author, Dominic Harbinson of Douglas-Westwood, says this total represents an increase of 42% over the previous 5-year period.

"We estimate that these installations - which include flowlines, risers, export systems, and trunk lines - will require a global Capex of $US54.4 billion," he said.

"Capex off Western Europe is forecast at $10.8 billion, while off North America it could top $11.5 billion, driven almost entirely by activity in the US Gulf of Mexico. Activity off Africa and Asia is also expected to grow strongly, requiring regional spends of $9.7 billion and $8.3 billion respectively."

The report also forecasts a total of 10,600 km of umbilical installations over the period to 2007, representing a potential 22% increase on the 8,700 km installed in 1998-2002. Global Capex in the umbilical sector over the 2003-2007 period is forecast at just over $2.6 billion, up 53% on the $1.7 billion estimated spend over the 1998-2002 period.

Western Europe is expected to maintain its position as the leading umbilical market with a spend of over $863 million, followed by North America with a forecast Capex of almost $700 million.

In the flexible pipe segment, a total of just over 2,100 km of pipe is forecast for installation worldwide over the 2003-2007 period, with Latin America (Brazil) being by far the most important regional market, accounting for almost 56% of the global total.

"The underlying driver for activity in the offshore pipeline and umbilicals sectors is the growth in global energy demand. In addition, there are four marked trends within the offshore sector that can be expected to contribute strongly to growth in the pipeline and umbilical sectors.

"These trends are: the increased uptake of subsea production technology; the industry's move into deep waters; the growth in long-distance gas transmission projects; and the establishment of long-distance power and communications links to offshore facilities," said Dr Roger Knight, Infield Systems data manager.

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