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VAM® connections prove worth for CO2 storage applications

With the energy transition gaining momentum daily, Vallourec continues to innovate to support our customers’ progress.
We have 100% confidence in the relevance of our protocols. We have built our testing protocols according to customers’ needs, allowing us to serve a wide range of CCS projects around the globe. Thanks to our laboratory assessments and full-scale connection testing, operators agree that VAM® connections perform well in real-life situations.
Alvaro Rodriguez
Marketing and Development Manager for Energy Transition Connections

With the energy transition gaining momentum daily, Vallourec continues to innovate to support our customers’ progress. Our most recent focus has been on validating our VAM® products for carbon capture and storage (CCS) applications. Today, the team leading this exciting project discusses how VAM® connections proved their sealability and maintained integrity in harsh conditions including 100% CO2 gas, absolute minimum temperatures of -80°C and thermal cycling at -35°C.

The current ISO 13679 and API 5C5 standards for qualifications do not cover CCS applications, which come with their own stringent requirements for tightness and integrity. Vallourec seized this opportunity to become a leader in a rapidly growing market and built an ambitious, fast-track roadmap to ensure that proof of concept would be achieved by October 2021. 

“Earlier this year, we were excited to share that we had developed our unique methodology,” says Diana Rodriguez Barrera, CCUS Marketing & Development Manager. “Now, we are even more thrilled to share that this methodology has already yielded promising results.” 

Throughout the year, Vallourec researchers tested VAM® connections in normal operating conditions as well as survival conditions, which is the case of blowout scenarios. This included conducting low-temperature thermal cycling, making VAM® premium connections the first connections in the industry to withstand these testing conditions. Vallourec’s proposed testing methodology, as explored in detail in our June article, needed to be rigorous and comprehensive to ensure success and reliable validation for CO2 injection wells on CCS projects. 

Proof in numbers

The researchers made the most of the state-of-the-art tools at their disposal throughout the testing process. They conducted specific Finite Elements Analysis (FEA) to determine the most critical sizes for tubulars in CCS conditions. They also performed tribological assessments at cryogenic temperatures of metal-to-metal seals with lubricant. 

Vallourec’s comprehensive tests have proven that VAM® connections can withstand the conditions required for CCS while keeping full tightness and integrity. Testing conditions included thermal cycles of up to -35°C (-31°F), an absolute minimum temperature of -80°C (-112°F), a delta temperature of 60°C (140°F) between pin and box, and testing fluids containing up to 100% CO2 gas. 

The successful tests are the product of Vallourec’s tailor-made testing equipment and methodology for CCS, as well as unparalleled testing capabilities. In addition to proprietary FEA modeling, the researchers performed surface treatment evaluation at extremely low temperatures and when undergoing high-pressure washing. They also conducted a fretting evaluation at cryogenic temperatures in dedicated R&D studies. 

These results were achieved so quickly due to the company’s commitment and willingness to drive this work forward. “Throughout the company, we all share the feeling that we are on a new professional adventure,” says Eric Verger, Director of Technology at Vallourec Research Center for Connections (VRCC). “We are all looking to create a greener future together, and in this respect working with oil and gas operators is highly motivating, as they share that ambition.”

External partners also played a key role in certifying the connections so quickly. “We continuously partner with world-class labs and researchers,” says Pierre Martin, R&D Manager at VRCC. “By combining our expertise with knowledge from specialists all over the world, we can hone our tests and achieve insightful, ground-breaking results.” 

See all test results here

Gaining a foothold in the industry

As use of CCS techniques becomes more widespread, clients’ projects and needs are continuously evolving. That is why it is vital for Vallourec to stay in close and constant contact with the industry so that we can develop and demonstrate our adaptable, readily available and reliable solutions. 

For example, CCUS Director Leila Faramarzi attended October’s Carbon Capture Technology Conference and Expo held in Bremen, Germany. “The feedback we received about Vallourec’s CCS work was very positive,” Leila explains.

Clients said they appreciated our thinking in the long term, as well as the fact that we are looking at ways to build with materials that will stand the test of time and last for decades to come.
Leila Faramarzi
CCUS Director

These efforts have begun to have a tangible effect—researchers are already in talks with clients all over the world about how VAM® connections could facilitate their CCS projects. 

We achieved this goal thanks to the hard work, dedication and close collaboration of Vallourec’s operators, technicians and engineers.
Diana Rodriguez Barrera
CCUS Marketing & Development Manager

The next step in this work is to validate additional VAM® connections and product ranges for CCS applications, including validation for cryogenic and supercritical phases. As more and more clients recognize that VAM® can fulfill their CCS requirements, Vallourec remains committed to meeting their needs.