Berg Steel Pipe Corp. ordered a new inline, hydrostatic testing system for large-diameter double submerged arc welded (D-SAW) pipes, to be installed at its Panama City, Fla., processing plant. German plant builder SMS Meer will design the unit, supply and build it, and commission the tester by late 2012.

Hydrostatic testing is a method for finding leaks in pressure vessels, like pipelines. Testing involves placing water in the pipe or vessel at the required pressure to determine if it will leak or be damaged. It’s a test that gauges the reliability of a vessel over time, and new structures typically are tested prior to commissioning in order to achieve safety and quality certification.

SMS said the new tester would replace an existing unit at the Panama City plant, and is designed for a higher throughput than the existing machine.

With the new tester in place, the plant will be able to meet increasing quality requirements for new pipe materials, dimensional ranges, and especially the international certification authorities. Because the installation will be fully prefabricated, installation will take place without any noticeable downtime, according to SMS.

The new hydrostatic pipe tester is designed for 12.4-m long, large-diameter (24 to 62 in.) pipes with wall thicknesses of 0.25 to 1.5 in. The maximum test pressure is 35 MPa, and the clamping force attains 40 MN. The builder said the line’s test pressure would be above the later operating pressure of the pipes.

SMS Meer project manager Matthias Büchter said: "We have designed the tester in such a way that we can almost fully use the existing foundations at the customer’s works. BSPC thus saves considerable costs. Furthermore, the revamping time and, consequently, the production downtimes will be minimized thanks to the use of completely prefabricated and pre-assembled units."

Berg Steel Pipe specializes in oil-and-gas pipeline products. It manufactures up to 240,000 tons per year of straight-seam D-SAW line pipe by the three-roll bending (3RB) process. Berg Steel also operates a plant in Mobile, Ala., where it produces 180,000 tons per year of D-SAW line pipe with helical seams.

The company’s Europipe division produces straight-seam D-SAW line pipe by the UOE (U’ing, O’ing, expanding) method, at plants in Mülheim, Germany, and Dunkerque, France.