A unit of Koch Industries said on Wednesday it was introducing a new type of pipe made from nylon, as surging oil and gas output drives demand for new pipelines and concerns mount about the safety of older ones across North America.
Koch's Invista unit said the nylon pipe was designed to withstand tough oilfield conditions, including corrosive liquids, abrasions, considerable pressure and high temperatures.
"We discovered a strong market signal for a line pipe that was tough enough to handle the oil patch and perform daily under rugged conditions, but could be installed quickly," Vikram Gopal, Invista's vice president of technology, said in a statement.
The company said the nylon pipe could outperform ones made of steel, composites and high-density polyethylene.
Pipelines are in short supply in many U.S. shale oil patches, especially North Dakota's burgeoning Bakken field.
Invista said at this point its nylon pipe is geared toward gathering systems in oilfields instead of larger transmission lines, but that the nylon pipe could potentially be used to rehabilitate deteriorating lines.
Safety concerns about ageing pipelines have increased with their flows rising on U.S. oil output that is at a 25-year high.
Last year, for example, the 95,000 barrels per day Pegasus Pegasus crude pipeline of ExxonMobil ruptured in Arkansas, prompting lawsuits and putting pressure on federal pipeline regulator PHMSA.
On Monday, GE and Accenture said they had introduced an Internet-based platform that monitors pipelines using advanced analytics and digital technologies.
The tool "allows for a more real-time view of pipeline integrity across our interstate natural gas pipelines," said Shawn Patterson of the Columbia Pipeline Group, which is using the software platform in the Marcellus and Utica shale plays in the northeastern United States. (Reporting By Terry Wade; Editing by Tom Brown)