Vallourec Tubular Solutions (VTS) in Brazil stands out as the Vallourec’s principal site for providing in-house pipe coating services for stringent pipeline projects. Bolstered by decades of engineering excellence and top-notch certifications, VTS creates reliable and crucial coating technologies for line pipe projects. To learn more about VTS’ unique capabilities, key partnerships and market impact, we talk with three experts about their work.
Coatings are materials selected for their protective properties that are applied to line pipes before they are shipped to operators. High-quality coatings are non-negotiable, as external and/or internal coatings are key for preventing corrosion and minimizing wear on line pipes in the oil and gas industry. “Line pipes used in offshore projects need to hold up under extremely harsh conditions,” says João Luiz Santos, Quality Manager at VTS. Our job is to offer specialized coatings, which protect the pipes and increase the product lifespan.”
Currently, VTS conducts coating activities at two coating factories that work in tandem. The first is located in Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, while the other is in Vitória, Espírito Santo. Belo Horizonte’s facility is located within Vallourec’s Barreiro pipe mill, whereas Vitória’s plant is located close to the sea, facilitating the shipment of finished goods to the ports. Together, these two sites are the humming engine powering Vallourec’s line pipe coating capabilities.
“Belo Horizonte is inland from Espírito Santo next to our pipe mill Vallourec Soluçoes Tubulares do Brazil (VSB),” João Luiz explains. “Having these sites so close to each other, we can really optimize collaboration and efficiency. We can also ensure high traceability levels for pipes moving from our steel mills to coating sites. This all leads to an integrated VSB/VTS coating offer that is built on very strong expertise and quality control.”
VTS’ site at Espírito Santo can coat line pipes with an outer diameter (OD) ranging between 6” and 20” with lengths varying from 8.3 to 18 m, while the Belo Horizonte site covers OD from 2’’ up to 14”. The integrated maximum capacity is around 2,000,000 m2 per year, and both sites can apply four types of coatings:
Quality is at the heart of VTS coating activities, with both sites receiving certifications confirming the excellence and sustainability of their production. In addition to being certified to the ISO 18001 safety standard, VTS is certified to ISO 9001, a quality management standard. It’s also achieved ISO 14001 certification, which assesses and controls environmental impacts. Finally, VTS is the only private coating company in Brazil with a laboratory certified to ISO 17025 highest standard for quality control.
On par with these certifications, the people running VTS’ testing labs are experts with decades of experience. All of VTS’ quality inspectors are trained according to applicable NACE coating standards, with the core quality team being NACE 2 certified. “This comprehensive expertise serves as a benchmark for other line pipe companies, many of which ask VTS to evaluate their coatings,” says Gustavo Pinheiro, General Manager at VTS. “As a result, VTS has also become a lab service provider in addition to a coating provider.”
Thanks to its strategic coastal location, unparalleled certifications and longstanding expertise, the Espírito Santo facility has developed a partnership with Shawcor. A worldwide leader in line pipe coatings, Shawcor’s coating plant is located right next door to the VTS Serra site. “It’s only a few minutes’ walk from one facility to the other,” says Dorian Allue, Global Subcontracting Manager, Project Line Pipe. “This has a real impact on our output and efficiency, since we no longer need to subcontract any type of thermal insulation coating services to other sites. With Shawcor, VTS can apply every layer of necessary coating for any kind of line pipe application.”
This was made possible through Shawcor’s qualification of VTS to apply the first layers of anti-corrosion coating. “Thanks to this, VTS has won coating contracts with clients like TotalEnergies, Equinor and Petrobras,” Dorian says. “Their teams are exacting when it comes to coating quality. Having a stamp of approval from Shawcor – knowing VTS is trusted and qualified to uphold their standards – helped seal the deal with demanding oil and gas majors.”
VTS also collaborates with other coating companies, leveraging resulting benchmark activities. “In fact, Vallourec subcontracts coating activities all around the world,” Dorian says. “We evaluate our VTS investment plan based on the desire to keep continuously aligned with best-in-class processes and methods.”
Since 2018, VTS has taken on a range of coating projects, using innovative techniques on installations worldwide.
VTS’ coating expertise has been crucial in making Vallourec a partner of choice for the Brazilian offshore and Line Pipe export markets. Its teams have recently received coating qualifications from ExxonMobil, Saipem and Subsea7 – proving the need for this vital and highly technological step for their future line pipe projects. “We look forward to sharing our expertise with the rest of the Group,” João Luiz says, “and we are proud to contribute in maintaining Vallourec’s reputation for excellence.”