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Benefits of Reinforced Thermoplastic Pipe (RTP) for Oil and Gas Pipelines

Posted by Baker Hughes on May 28, 2020 7:37:47 PM

Not all pipes are created equal. The choice of materials for use in oil and gas pipelines and hydrocarbon transportation can impact operating costs, lead time, compliance, ease of installation, maintenance costs, total costs of ownership, and much more.

While fiberglass pipe has been commonly used for the transportation of petroleum products and natural gas, existing product with dry glass fiber and thermoset resin may no longer be the best option for various reasons. More advanced products are available, such as reinforced thermoplastic pipes (RTP) with aramid fiber or glass fiber in thermoplastic matrix. These are gaining popularity among operators and engineers in the oil and gas industry, because this type of pipe can withstand extreme conditions and is not susceptible to common issues other glass fiber products are susceptible to. 


What Is Reinforced Thermoplastic Pipe (RTP)?

Reinforced thermoplastic pipes (RTP) are pipes reinforced by high strength materials, often synthetic fibers (such as glass, aramid, or carbon fiber). Thermoflex RTP is a spoolable, reliable solution for transporting hydrocarbons, refined fuels, and chemicals due to its exceptional strength-to-weight ratio, chemical compatibility, and paraffin buildup resistance. The strength of the pipe is its reinforcement.

RTPs have been replacing steel in many applications with great success, including oil and gas pipeline projects, because of its versatility and durability. For example, the proprietary five-layer construction of Thermoflex pipes consists of an abrasion-resistant HDPE outer jacket, an aramid or glass fiber reinforcement, an HDPE base piping, a Tybond layer, and an inert hydrocarbon-resistant liner to create a pipeline transport option that can stand up to high pressure and extremely corrosive or abrasive environments.


What is Meant by Fiberglass Pipe?

Fiberglass pipe can describe many specific varieties of pipe with fiberglass composition. This comparison considers the two most commonly used types of fiberglass pipe:

  • Dry glass fiber reinforcement, where the problem with cyclic pressure loading is not from the fatigue resistance of glass fiber, but from the abrasion of adjacent glass fibers.  
  • Thermoset resin, where the issues are the brittleness of the resin and quality control. These types of pipes have higher risk of installation damage from over-bending or impact, which could lead to early failure.


The Advantages of Thermoflex RTP Over Fiberglass Reinforced Pipes (FRP) in Oil and Gas Pipeline Construction

Compared to fiberglass pipes, Thermoflex reinforced thermoplastic pipes deliver many advantages:

Ability to Withstand High Pressure and Temperature

Reinforced thermoplastic pipes are perfectly suited for gas and oil transportation (including hot oil) because of RTP’s ultra-low permeability and greater materials strength. Fiberglass reinforced pipe products can reach higher pressures and temperature but are easily damaged.

Both Thermoflex and Thermoflex Plus are available in a raised temperature (RT) variant. PE-RT material, combined with a nylon PA12 liner, raises the maximum operating temperature to 180°F. 

Extended Lifetime of Oil and Gas Pipelines

Reinforced thermoplastic pipes are as corrosion-resistant as fiberglass pipes and more durable than steel pipes. They can withstand salt corrosion, as well as H2S/CO2 corrosion. This contributes to a longer lifespan for the entire system without added costs.

For example, the inner Polyphenylene Sulfide (PPS) layer in Thermoflex Plus pipes offers resistance to bacteria and harsh chemicals, making it a superior choice for extremely corrosive and unforgiving environments. 

Ease of Installation and Lower Total Installation Cost

The installation process for RTPs requires less man-power and is less time-consuming than other options because it allows you to streamline operations while minimizing safety issues. The spoolability of RTPs reduces installation time and downtime while the flexibility allows the use of RTPs in challenging terrains.

Thermoflex pipe also offers a large variety of couplings and fittings available in various grades of steel. (e.g., NPT or BSPT threads, weld end, and API 6A/ ASME B16.5 flange) to connect to common oilfield infrastructure.

Ease of Maintenance and Total Cost of Ownership

Thermoflex RTPs are resistant to paraffin wax build-up and fully piggable for easy inspection and maintenance. The corrosion-resistant material reduces product failures while its flexibility requires fewer joints and allows for a leak free system.

Liner options allow customization to match specific applications, which allows selected materials’ properties to match various operating conditions  - minimizing maintenance and the total cost of ownership. New automated manufacturing technologies ensure quality of the liner during manufacturing.


Thermoflex RTP is a field-proven pipeline solution which has the ability to withstand high heat and extreme pressure, with the same corrosion resistance as fiberglass-reinforced pipes while delivering added benefits such as:

  • Easier installation with higher flexibility and adaption to difficult terrains.
  • Lower total cost of ownership because of its greater durability and ease of maintenance.
  • Robust and reliable solution while meeting the highest safety standards.
  • Unique manufacturing capabilities in multi-layer extrusion and braiding technology

These benefits make Thermoflex spoolable pipe systems a perfect solution for exploration and production customers in the upstream and midstream segments of the oil and gas industry.

Learn more about Thermoflex Composite Pipe and plan your project here.


(Updated April 20, 2021)


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