Electroless Nickel Plating for an Oil Rig Vortoil Pipe

NiTEC are a UK based metal plating company specialising in electroless nickel plating and providing worldwide metal plating services. Nickel plating is perfect for use in the oil and gas industries because of the adjustable thickness of the electroless nickel coating, good cohesion and performance, and excellent corrosion and wear resistance when used as a barrier layer.

As specialists in the electroless nickel plating process, we were asked to nickel plate a Vortoil Pipe for use on an oil rig. The Vortoil Pipe is used for separating crude oil from seawater. Understandably, the environment is very harsh and so a high degree of corrosion prevention and wear resistance is required. This made electroless nickel plating an obvious solution to the problem.

The nature of the operation means that the tolerances of the pipe must be less than 3 microns over the length. Although electroless nickel plating is known for the uniformity of the deposit, over very large items there can be slight thickness variations due to localised changes in temperature and activity.

The pipe was approximately 4m in length, and needed to be electroless nickel plated internally and externally, including all the attached pipes, holes and fins. The deposit thickness required was 100 microns and the tolerance was < 3 microns variation in any area.

While the size and material posed no problems generally, conforming to the tight distribution tolerances over that length needed to be addressed. The high standards of quality and excellent monitoring system used by NiTEC enabled the accurate deposit thickness of the electroless nickel plating. A jig was manufactured with a motor, which was attached to either end of the pipe. The pipe was then electroless nickel plated horizontally, while turning very slowly, like being on a spit.

To find out more about electroless nickel plating, please visit the NiTEC website at http://www.electroless-nickel-plating.co.uk