IFS Chemicals - World Class Polyurethanes
IFS Chemicals - World Class Polyurethanes

Marine Pipelines

The offshore industry is a massive worldwide business involving the extraction and transportation of oil and gas, often from deep reserves thousands of metres below the surface of the sea.

In common with many other industries, the offshore business relies heavily on the use of modern, high-performance polymers, particularly polyurethanes. At IFS we specialise in solving industrial problems through the use of polyurethane chemistry.

  • For the past 30 years, IFS has been responsible for major shifts in the development of environmentally friendly products for numerous industries.
  • The Company has also produced high-performance materials for use in demanding applications, particularly with regard to high service temperatures and cryogenic applications.
  • As part of this specialised formulating business, IFS has manufactured thousands of tonnes of polyurethane chemicals for the offshore industry.
  • Many of these products are commonly used in sub-sea pipeline applications, either as insulation materials, protective coverings or in-fill products at pipe joints.
  • IFS marine-grade polyurethanes have been used in the North Sea, the Gulf of Mexico, the Far East, off-shore Brazil and the west coast of Africa.

Our areas of expertise include:

Foam Field Joints

  • Concrete-coated steel pipes have been used in sub-sea applications for many years.
  • Involve individual lengths of pipe, often up to 1200mm in diameter.
  • Welded on a lay-barge and placed in the sea often under rather difficult working conditions.
  • It is imperative that the operation is carried out quickly and with minimum cost to the operator.
  • This requirement led to the need for a fast field joint to allow the pipe to pass over a guide roller before entering the sea.
  • IFS developed the 150/160 range of fast reacting foams which has become an industry standard for this type of work.
  • Foams of this type are characterised by having rapid modulus development and high compressive properties at low density.
  • Many hundreds of miles of sub-sea pipes have been successfully coated with foams supplied by IFS.

Solid Field Joint

  • A high-performance polyurethane elastomer for fast field joints (Cellacast 11.309) was introduced to the IFS range of marine products in 1992.
  • A year later, it was first used on a major project, the 22km long Dunbar pipeline in the North Sea.
  • It was later used on a similar application in the Shell Pelican oil field.
  • This product fulfils all the significant design criteria for a field joint and is now available in a non-mercury catalysed form.
  • The new product has been tested for long-term ageing and fulfils all the requirements demanded of a performance polymer in harsh service conditions.
  • The standard system has a cycle time of 6 minutes but faster reacting versions are also available.
  • Low temperature flexibility is a feature of the system, as is high impact resistance.

Insulation Systems

  • As well as a multitude of foam systems for marine applications, IFS has a range of insulation-grade syntactic polyurethanes.
  • IFS has a range of syntactic polyurethanes, which have been developed for the insulation and protection of flowlines, spool pieces, risers and manifolds.
  • A variety of grades are available for water depths up to 3000 metres, with small variations made to allow processing by moulding, spray-application and CRC (Controlled Rotational Casting).
  • Cellacast 11.270 is a high-performance syntactic material with a hardness of 90 Shore A and a two minute gel time.
    • It was first used on the Lasmo Birch project in 1996 at a water depth of 127 metres. With a typical tensile strength of 6.7 MPa and an ultimate elongation of 60%, this product has proved to be the material of choice for sub-sea insulation applications.
    • Glass syntactics are also available for moulding applications and are suitable for very deep waters. Typical insulation values are 0.14 to 0.16 W/mK
    • These products run with specialist isocyanates, which exhibit less tendency to cold-temperature solidification than traditional isocyanate grades. 

Protection Systems

  • Most of the syntactic foams act as both insulation and protection systems.
  • Certain engineering grades offer particularly high levels of protection and combine flexibility, low processing temperature, fast production rates and a stable, controlled hardness.
  • The protection systems have been tested for extended periods of time in both air and sea-water, details of which are available from IFS.
  • For bend restrictors and bend stiffeners, IFS has developed a range of products based on high molecular weight PTMEGs, which run with MDI-based prepolymers.
  • These products exhibit the very best performance in harsh conditions and each batch is fully tested to the strict requirements of ISO 9001.

High Temperature Systems

  • The increasing demand for polymers offering higher resistance to temperature and hydrolysis has resulted in the HP-Series of products from IFS.
  • Long-term testing has shown that modified polyurethanes are capable of higher levels of performance than the traditional elastomers commonly used by the marine contracting industries.
  • Some 15 years ago, IFS developed a foamed polyurethane suitable for applications up to 150oC
  • The Company has now further developed this range of foamed, syntactic and solid elastomer products.
  • For moulding applications, IFS has a range of novel, isocyanate-based materials which comfortably surpass traditional performance figures for engineering polyurethanes.

Environmentally Attractive Systems

  • Many of the conventional syntactic and elastomeric polyurethanes manufactured by IFS are now available in grades that reflect the Company’s commitment to environmentally attractive chemicals.
  • The replacement of mercury-containing catalysts was established some time ago. IFS led the way in this development, followed shortly thereafter by the elimination of TbT in antifouling grades.
  • The Company then developed foam systems derived from both recycled materials and from renewable, vegetable-based polyols – again, a first for IFS.
  • In terms of blowing agents, all marine grades of foam are expanded using water as the sole ingredient for this purpose.


  • IFS pays great attention to quality and consistent performance from batch to batch, in line with the strict procedures within the ISO 9001 quality system.
  • Production methods, including dedicated blending vessels, ensure that high-performance products are consistently produced.
  • Quality control checks, including analytical and actual performance tests, are carried out on all batches of marine-grade materials.
  • This ensures that all customers can totally rely on products received from IFS.
  • In order to ensure that the best possible product is manufactured by the customer, IFS technical service personnel are always on hand to optimise processing parameters at the customer’s premises.
  • Quality assurance is also confirmed by regular checking of samples received during the application of our chemicals during the contract period.
  • Airfreighted samples can be received, tested and reported on within a 24 hour period, thus providing the contractor with up-to-date live information on the quality of the polyurethane being applied on site.
  • As far as quality is concerned,  there are no compromises with IFS as your supplier.

Subsea Pipeline Contracts:

  • Shell Merlin 
    • This platform is situated in the North Sea, in about 158 metres of water.
    • Crude oil at high temperature is extracted from the sea, pumped to the Dunlin and South Cormorant areas and then on to Sullom Voe in the Shetlands.
    • This particular pipeline consisted of 7km of 219mm diameter steel pipe that was coated with a 3-layer insulation/protection system using a rotational casting technique.
    • The first layer consisted of  Cellacast 11-270, a high-performance syntactic polyurethane with a density of 735 kg/m3
    • This was followed by Envirofoam 345M, a 400 kg/m3 polyurethane foam with high compressive properties.
    • This double insulation system was protected by a layer of Cellacast 4090Y, a hydrolysis-resistant polyurethane elastomer with high impact properties.
    • The above system was jointly developed by IFS and the Balmoral Group in Aberdeen. 
    • Finally, the pipe joints were produced using Envirocast 11.309, a fast field joint system.
  • Dunbar Pipeline
    • Situated in the North Sea, 420 km north-east of Aberdeen.
    • Cellacast 11.309 polyurethane field joint was used on the 22 km long Dunbar crude oil pipeline.
    • The Dunbar platform sits in 145 metres of water and is 167 metres high.
    • The pipe was insulated and joints applied to the 406mm diameter steel pipe which had been insulated using two layers of polypropylene.
    • 12 metre lengths of insulated pipe were welded to form a 1km string, prior to the application of a fast-setting field joint.
    • Cellacast 11.309 had a gel time of 3 minutes and exhibited a rapid build-up of modulus. The final hardness of the joint was 90 Shore A.
    • The finished pipeline was wound onto a large reel of the Stena Apache barge and transported to sea.
  • Lasmo Birch and Larch
    • The Lasmo Birch field, operated by Kvaerner FSSL, is a large oilfield in Block 16/12a on the UK Continental shelf.
    • A pipeline was externally insulated using Envirofoam 345M from IFS, a polyurethane grade that was specifically developed for this specific project and formulated to withstand temperatures up to 150oC.
    • By altering the ratio of the two component chemicals, the material could be run as a conventional polyurethane or as a higher temperature resistant PIR (polyisocyanurate) foam.
    • The Lasmo Larch field used the same product from IFS and the completed pipeline was installed using the Apache lay-barge.

Reeled pipeline on Stena Apache barge

Testing field joint of Cellacast 11.309

Rotational casting for the Shell Merlin project

Fast Demould Pipe-Jointing Foam System

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