The Vesterled natural gas pipeline system runs underground for 360km from the Heimdal field in the North Sea to St. Fergus gas plant situated near Peterhead in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. The pipeline provides 12 billion m3 of natural gas out of 77 billion m3 consumed by the UK annually – approximately 15% of the total supply.
Tasked with protecting a 150m onshore section of the pipeline, renowned project management consultancy Atkins Global turned to Ravago Building Solutions UK for a heavy-duty and high-performance insulation solution.
The often wet and freezing conditions in north-east Scotland present an opposition like no other: the buried pipeline is susceptible to frost heave, a phenomenon in which the sub-zero internal temperature of the pipeline causes the surrounding soil to freeze and expand, pushing the pipeline upwards. This movement causes the pipe to bend excessively, compromising its structural safety and threatening the operation of the pipeline. With Norwegian gas imports composing around one-third of the UK’s supply, safeguarding the Vesterled pipeline is imperative.
The team worked closely with Atkins Global – who supported with engineering expertise and first-hand analytical insights, helping Ravago to make informed and precise procedural decisions – alongside colleagues from Ravago Building Solutions Germany to navigate the complex challenge.
The proven ability to resist and protect against freezing temperatures was a crucial factor in the project specification. Ravatherm XPS X 700 SL insulation was selected specifically for this task; the product of choice for heavy-duty applications – from load-bearing industrial floors to high-load rooftop car parks – 700 SL is more than capable of withstanding temperatures between -50°C and 75°C, as well as being highly resistant to water absorption and repeated freeze/thaw cycles. Longevity is never overlooked in Ravatherm products – 700 SL has a minimum lifespan of 25 years, bringing the benefits of the Vesterled pipeline system into the middle of this century by eliminating the worry of critical exposure beforehand.
Adam Hilmi, Account Manager at Ravago Building Solutions felt triumphant about the project: “It’s satisfying and encouraging to tacke a challenge of this nature so effectively. By collaborating effectively with our partners, we were able to identify a robust solution to protect this asset of critical national infrastructure. The pipeline runs for miles before it reaches the UK, so it’s reassuring to know that Ravatherm XPS X 700 SL will be protecting this significant final stretch for many years to come.”