In an age when communities depend more than ever upon a continual, economic supply of energy sources, steel is ideal

In an age when communities depend more than ever upon a continual, economic supply of energy sources, steel is the ideal and proven material of choice for high-pressure gas transmission pipelines. BlueScope Steel Senior Metallurgist Stuart Laird explains why this is the case.

Pipelines need to consistently deliver product year in and year out under a range of operating conditions. The pipe needs to be handled, transported and installed with minimal risk of damage. Pipe also needs to be resistant to long-term loss of strength or damage through corrosion, ageing and other external effects.

Strength to weight ratio

Steel offers a very high strength to weight ratio. Of all commercial piping materials, steel has the greatest strength in proportion to pipe wall thickness. This attribute has weight-saving implications due to the reduction in pipe wall thicknesses, or through increases in gas supply via higher operating pressures. The less steel that is utilised in a pipeline, the less it costs.

Longevity, durability and property stability

As the physical properties of steel do not appreciably degrade over time, the material will reliably perform over many generations of pipeline operation. There are numerous examples of steel pipelines in Australia with long service periods. The longevity of a pipeline has considerable and positive technical, maintenance and financial ramifications. Through use of modern coatings and well-established cathodic protection techniques, steel pipe is resistant to corrosion, allowing many decades of service.