Steel has provided solutions to the energy industry for decades. It’s been used to make some of the earliest pipelines in the world and was first used as drill pipe to the oil and gas industry before World War I. Since then, many innovations have been developed and today, we’re still reliant on steel products as we continue to meet our global energy needs.
From drill collars and piling pipe, to casing and reconditioned tubulars, a broad array of products exist to meet a new generation of challenges across a range of industries.
Since the early 1990s, John Lawrie Tubulars has been purchasing and supplying high-quality new, used unused and surplus casing to the UK, USA and European piling and micro-piling markets.
With its headquarters in Montrose, Scotland and Houston, USA, the John Lawrie Tubulars is now one of the industry’s largest suppliers. In Montrose, on the Angus coast, we have recently overseen more than £500,000 in new equipment and buildings at our full-service pipe facility which will deliver an even more efficient experience to our customers.
Q: Tubulars is rather a broad term isn’t it, what products are included within that general term?
Tubular steel is used for a variety of different functions in many industries, and varies in size, length, and width. The main advantages of steel tubing are that it is highly resistant to corrosion and high temperatures, and it is also a lot stronger than plastic or concrete. It’s a great product which is widely applied in industries including oil and gas, construction, transport, aircraft and military. Under the general banner of steel tubulars, we have drill pipe, casing, tubing and linepipe.
Q: What is the difference between pipe, tubulars and casing?
Let’s look at steel pipe to begin with. Pipe is a multi-functional product and can be used for a wide variety of different purposes.
Drill pipes are durable, hollow piping that is used on drilling rigs to conduct the force to the drill bit. The drill bit cuts into the rock until it reaches the deposits. Drilling with drill pipe is the first phase of every wellbore. The reason that is hollow is so that drilling fluid can be pumped through it and the mud pumped back to the surface. As you would expect, it comes in a variety of sizes, strengths and thickness.
High quality Line pipe is used for both on-shore and off-shore projects and transports crude oil, natural gas, water or crude oil. Line pipe is also used for fabrication of countless structures including oil platforms, light poles, bollards and rollers.
Casing and tubing is predominantly used in the production side of an oil well.
Casing is used to line the wellbore to protect the layers of soil and the groundwater, from becoming contaminated by drilling fluids and mud. Casing is essential for smooth drilling operations, particularly in deep wells, so that the risk of the hole collapsing can be eliminated.
Tubing is used in the production phase of the well. It usually runs inside casing and serves as a conduit through which oil and gas is transported from the well up to the surface. The production casing is inserted into the wellbore and cemented into place. The well is then fractured and the tubing is installed inside the production casing.
Recycled casing, tubing and drill pipe are all used for piling by the construction industry. Piling sets deep foundations for any form of construction work and gives essential support for any kind of structure. Foundations must be incredibly strong therefore the choice of materials is very important.
Q: How important a role do steel tubulars play in the decommissioning sector?
Steel tubulars aren’t used in the decommissioning process. Tubulars can be used for many years in oil and gas projects but once decommissioning takes place, they are pulled from the seabeds and structures associated with the oil and gas field. Major operators require companies like John Lawrie Group to receive these redundant tubulars and safely reuse and recycle them.
Q: How are tubulars handled at John Lawrie’s Montrose facility?
When redundant tubulars first arrive from the customer they are weighed at the weigh bridge and are then sent to the unloading area. There they are checked for weight, condition and other properties before being placed into one of our storage bays. As soon as John Lawrie Group receives an order, the required tubulars are then taken out of the storage bay and transferred to our brand-new saw line facility where they are cut to the specified length for the customer before being taken to the holding area to be loaded onto transport to our client’s site.
Q: Globally, where do you buy pipe from and where do you sell it to?
Both our Montrose and Houston facilities are constantly buying steel products from across the globe. At any given time, we will have shipments on the water either heading to Montrose or the USA where we have various excellent quayside storage facilities.
Q: John Lawrie Group has a tubulars division in both the UK and USA. How do the markets differ?
The US market is quite different from the UK one. The UK piling market is driven by top-driven work as well as micropile – generally what we supply is top-driven. However, we can source micropile products from an associated company in Europe.
Top driving piling is a basically a quick and easy installation of piles suitable for most ground conditions. Top driving can use steel tubulars, sheet piling or H Beams. The process is carried out by top driving a tube into the ground to a set depth or length using a hydraulic hammer ranging from 5 tonne upwards. In most occasions the piles are left open so that a soil plug can be formed, or occasionally they can be capped off. The piles are then ready for grouting and concreating if required. Generally, the US market is 50/50 micropiling and pipe piling (driven-pile).
The UK and USA construction industries are driven by investment and the private sector. It’s all about new builds – houses, superstores, exhibition centres and power stations. The rail network also uses piling. Without investment, there would be no construction, and therefore no piling market.
Q: What makes John Lawrie Group so successful in the steel tubular sector?
Stock is the most important element – John Lawrie Tubulars holds a vast stock of over 50,000 metric tonnes at any given time. The reason we have such a large stock is that we make the effort to go and acquire it, and we will find a way of transporting it even from the most challenging locations.
We take great care in helping the companies that we sell stock to. For example, we often get calls from companies who have run into difficulties while using precast concrete piles, which are cheaper than steel piles. They may have hit an obstruction while hammering these piles into the ground and the concrete has shattered. These customers, who are usually under tremendous pressures of time, will then call John Lawrie Tubulars asking for an urgent delivery of steel pipe to complete the job. We can easily cope with this quick response time and can deliver steel piling by the next morning minimising downtime and lost hours for the customer.
Our customers want to work with us because, to put it simply, we’re good at what we do because we’ve done it for so long and we are very competitive.
When customers come in with large projects and jobs, they know that we will supply them with whatever they need because we have such a large stock. That’s why we believe that our customers have total confidence in us to supply their needs.