ExxonMobil pursued a comprehensive X120 development program to ensure that field welding technology would meet X120 strength requirements and be compatible with conventional pipeline construction practices. The X120 welding technology uses the pulsed gas metal arc welding process (PGMAW) with a proprietary solid welding wire and argon-based shielding gas to achieve high-strength welds with high toughness. Welding is performed using standard automated and semi-automated welding tools familiar to pipeline industry welders.
The technology now licensed by ExxonMobil to Nippon Steel also includes the right to manufacture the proprietary welding wire. The signing of the license agreement makes Nippon Steel the world’s first and sole pipe manufacturer having available both a mill to manufacture X120 linepipe and ExxonMobil welding technology for pipeline construction.
X120 ultra high-strength linepipe was jointly developed by ExxonMobil’s Upstream Research Company and Nippon Steel. X120 linepipe is 50 percent stronger than the strongest linepipe steel (X80) commonly used in gas transmission pipelines and is a cost effective and safe method of transporting natural gas from remote regions to urban customers using high-pressure, large-diameter pipelines.
Natural gas demand is forecast to grow 60 percent globally in the next 20 years. Many new gas resources required to meet this demand are in remote areas and will require cost-effective transportation options before they can be commercialized. The use of X120 linepipe could substantially improve the economics of long-distance pipelines used in the development of remote gas resources.