4.11.R&D Initiatives and Cooperation

New technologies and innovative products introduction are the key competitive drivers in the global pipe market. TMK’s research centres, the Russian Research Institute for the Tube and Pipe Industries (RosNITI) located in Chelyabinsk (Russia) and TMK’s Houston-based R&D centre (US) are engaged in extensive research, liaising with specialised R&D organizations and universities and aligning scientific and technological cooperation with TMK’s major consumers. The two centres assist TMK’s enterprises in developing new facilities, technologies and products.

The centres mainly focus on:

  • Boosting economic efficiency of pipe and billet manufacturing
  • Streamlining pipe technologies to enhance the product’s operational properties, quality and exterior, cut costs, improve working conditions and mitigate environmental impact
  • Developing new production capacities of TMK’s enterprises
  • Creating new technologies to manufacture new products
  • Improving regulatory framework and technical documentation, developing national and corporate standards (the Company’s local standards) for pipe, billet and flat-rolled products.

We consistently build up our R&D activities. For example, in July 2015, we launched the construction of TMK’s R&D facility in Skolkovo that will become our third, and principal, research and development platform. TMK’s R&D facility is scheduled to come online in 2017.

In 2015, we developed, tested and launched a range of R&D solutions, including:

  • Approved three corporate standards for import substituting products; submitted technical conditions for high-tech pipes for hydrocarbon production to Gazprom’s standing commission on new products
  • Developed and launched a technology for forming and welding large diameter pipes for subsea pipelines with enhanced requirements to viscosity and cold-resistance of the weld seam and to geometry precision
  • Developed a methodology and piloted software products to enhance the performance of process equipment at pipe hot-rolling and heat treatment facilities, calculate the standard ratios for metal consumption, waste and losses for various process stages at production shops with continuous rolling mills
  • Developed a range of methods to ensure high precision of pipe hot rolling by applying an advanced endwise roll adjustment technology, efficient profiling of process tools in piercing mills to produce hollow billets with enhanced parameters in terms of non-uniformity of wall thickness
  • Designed the formula for martensitic class stainless steel and technologies for manufacturing P110 grade casing and tubing pipes resistant to carbon dioxide corrosion fit for use in Far North areas
  • Designed the formula and technologies for manufacturing cold-worked P100 grade tubing from a chrome-nickel-molybdenum alloy and launched the production of C110 high-strength H2S pipes.

We actively pursue R&D collaboration projects with most Russian oil & gas majors to find a mutually beneficial solution to meet the demand of our customers for tubular products.

In December 2014, we entered into an R&D cooperation agreement with Gazprom for the period of 2015–2020. The agreement outlines a cooperation programme focusing on the development of new tubular products, import substitution initiatives, best practices sharing and joint research.

25 new pipe products
for Gazprom will be developed and launched by 2020

We are planning to develop and launch 25 products, including ten new and fifteen import substituting products, such as pipes with improved strain capacity for deep water pipelines; casing, tubing and drilling pipes for wells in adverse conditions and offshore projects, as well as pipes with dope-free threaded connections and featuring new allows and materials. We have been successfully building up R&D cooperation with Gazprom since 2003. These efforts helped launch dozens of new products, including vacuum insulated tubing, 13Cr-grade pipe, high-strength pipe used in aggressive environments, etc.

For many years, we have been cooperating with Gazprom Neft and supplying pipe for oil production and transportation, including those with premium threaded connections. Our R&D cooperation programme has been effective since 2013. While working on this programme, we decided to expand the scope of our cooperation with Gazprom Neft to set up a technological partnership. The Technological Partnership Programme signed between TMK and Gazprom Neft spans 2015–2017. The programme mainly focuses on developing and supplying new and import substituting products, providing services, supporting conceptual engineering for well construction equipment and technologies and looking into an opportunity to create a single R&D platform for the development of new complicated oil fields.

In 2015, we continued our relationship with Lukoil under the R&D Cooperation Programme for 2014–2016 signed in 2014. The Programme provides for launching import-substituting and new types of high-performance tubular products. In the reporting year, TMK’s entities completed a range of activities under the Programme:

  • Obtained qualification of premium threaded connections for casing pipe with GreenWell lubricant-free coating for offshore projects in the northern part of the Caspian Sea
  • Drafted technical conditions for highly corrosion-resistant steel seamless pipes and coated pipes for field development and
  • Successfully piloted tubing with anti-abrasion bore coating for Western Siberian fields.

In 2015, we launched a range of R&D cooperation programmes with Rosneft.

In July 2015, TMK signed a partnership agreement for joint research on development, manufacturing and introduction of knowledge-intensive lubricants needed by TMK. In addition, we are planning to run a joint technical audit of equipment to take full advantage of lubricants and the new mix of oil products.