Equipped for the future

“iNPIPE PRODUCTS is a world leading manufacturer and supplier of pipeline maintenance equipment,” says Simon Bell, managing director of iNPIPE PRODUCTS.

“Ken Hemingway, a lifelong innovator and recognised expert within the pipeline industry, established the company in 1984. With manufacturing facilities equipped to produce high quality machined parts and polyurethane pigs, the company operates within the oil, gas, petrochemical and water industries where it is able to produce customised and standard products and services.”

A member of energy sector business development organisation NOF Energy, iNPIPE PRODUCTS has acted as a supplier to major operators and international contractors for over 25 years. Having grown at a rapid rate in recent years the company is now at its highest ever level of turnover, employs a staff of 65 people and has significant development and recruitment plans for the 12 months ahead.

“iNPIPE PRODUCTS exports approximately 78 per cent of its products globally to countries throughout Europe, the Middle East, Africa, the Far East, Australasia and more recently South America and India,” states Simon. “The company has an extremely well-established distribution network of agents based around the world and is well positioned to serve all the major oil and gas production regions, while also being primed to capitalise on new discoveries. It is this guarantee of service and distribution, alongside the development of long term relationships with agents, which has meant that the global expansion of the company has been happening at an increasingly rapid rate.”

One of the key drivers of the rapid expansion is the emergence of new markets, as Simon continues: “A number of markets have grown significantly in recent times including India, Russia, China and the whole South American region. Canada is also now a key growth area as new methods are being used to exploit the natural resources found in unchartered oil sands.

“The company’s growth can also be attributed to the rising awareness within the industry of the importance of pigging. Traditionally operators rarely considered cleaning a piece of equipment until it has either become dirty or completely broken down. Today, though, these same operators are becoming increasingly aware that by looking closer at the long-term aspects of regularly cleaning a product, they will see a payback on their revenues and will ensure their infrastructure lasts much longer.”

In the last 12 months iNPIPE PRODUCTS has gone through some significant changes, not least of all its acquisition as part of a management buy-out, supported by private equity investor Meridian Equity, a move made to accelerate the growth of the business into new premises that are required for rapid expansion. By being wholly owned it is believed that the company now possesses the freedom to concentrate on growth and product development, as Simon explains: “The investment backing will provide a significant advantage that will help the company realise its full potential.

“There are a number of ways in which the company will develop going forward. Firstly it will be relocating to larger premises with a much larger capacity to service increasing demand for its high quality products. With product development having long been a strength of iNPIPE PRODUCTS, it is crucial that investment can continue to be channelled into creating more market leading products that are at the cutting edge of new technological developments.”

The company also possesses a further division, iNPIPE HIRE, providing clients with the ability to hire testing and isolation tools. Primarily focused on the European market, there is nevertheless an increasing global demand for satellite fleets. This is evident from the success of one such fleet that is currently operating in Trinidad, and so another target for the years to come is the expansion of this area of the business, one that works to compliment the maintenance and cleaning products produced by iNPIPE PRODUCTS.

An example of recent product developments within the company is the Portable Temporary Pig Launcher (PTPL), a tool that allows pipelines to be pigged, even those not designed to handle pigging processes. The PTPL attaches itself to a pipeline, allowing pigs to be launched for cleaning and maintenance. Utilising this tool means operators can ensure they get maximum returns by maintaining the optimum level of throughput, regardless of the design of the asset.

It is this kind of innovation that has led the company to create a range of new patented products that have become widely accepted as industry norms and provides the motivation for a loyal and experience workforce, willing to break new ground and accepted boundaries to fulfil client demands. As Simon emphasises, traits like these give iNPIPE PRODUCTS a valuable edge over its competitors: “The company prides itself on having the experience and expertise to provide either a standard product solution or a bespoke item that has a set of particularly difficult parameters. One of iNPIPE PRODUCTS’ main strengths is that it can engineer products that meet the technical performance operators require and are almost impossible to misuse.”

Having experienced an incredible year capped by record profits and turnover, the company’s hopes for the future are linked to both the price of oil and the changing attitude of industry operators: “Over the next two years the aim is to see iNPIPE PRODUCTS grow to twice its current size. This will involve consolidating its position in the market place and moving it into more service-orientated products,” says Gavin Newall, sales director of iNPIPE PRODUCTS. “Customers are savvier today and the industry is definitely moving towards a one-stop-shop mentality, and iNPIPE PRODUCTS is geared up to offer these clients the products required to maintain and enhance the longevity of pipelines.”

With an increasing number of oil and gas fields being developed in challenging environments, operators are facing new problems in yielding reserves as well as maintaining their pipelines to achieve optimum flow. As such the practices and tools being used are changing to face the demands and obstacles created by these environments. Being at the cutting edge of these product developments, iNPIPE PRODUCTS plans to launch a number of new tools and systems over the coming year to address all manner of issues and to benefit asset owners and operators alike. As the industry grows, iNPIPE PRODUCTS looks forward to capitalising on the vigour within the market place, making 2011 another record-breaking year.

Products: Pipes and pigging equipment