Schnitger chief calls for early engineering analysis

Meg Chesshyre
Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Schnitger President Monica Schnitger urged oil and gas companies to explore and exploit the latest technologies to have successful projects at the 2014 Bentley Systems Year in Infrastructure conference. Meg Chesshyre has more.  

“I’m big on doing analysis as early as possible and as often as possible,” Schnitger Corp.* President, Monica Schnitger, told a forum session at Bentley Systems Year in Infrastructure 2014** conference in London in November. The key to successful oil and gas projects is to explore and exploit the latest technology, collaborate with owners, partners and sub-contractors, innovate early with analytical models (not at the end), define processes and technology to ensure compliance and rely on analytical results for decision support.

Kerr-McGee's Rig 16. From Schnitger. 

She said that the demand for oil is projected to continue to grow for a long time to come, with offshore production becoming much more important. “The bottom line is demand is going up. We need to figure out how to meet it, and the only way we can do that is by innovating, to use technology to extend the life of existing platforms, by going deeper, by being able to deal with harsher conditions and what are generally called unconventional resources.”

She contrasted the simplicity of Kerr-McGee Rig 16 with the sophistication of BP’s Ula platform, which came on stream only two years after Rig 16 was finally decommissioned. Rig 16, which began production in the 1940s, was the first rig out of sight of land near Louisiana, in the US Gulf, and the first to house crew on a tender with power. It was in place until 1984. Ula was first installed in the Norwegian sector of the North Sea in 1986, and planned production is currently until 2028. Recent modifications have included crew quarters, control systems and a main drilling package overhaul. It has been reclassified numerous times, most recently in 2013.

Another upgrading example was US drilling company Ensco. Ensco is spending US$570 million on refits in 2014, with a focus onsafety, maximizing profitable operations, standardizing equipment packages across the fleet to minimize training costs and spares, bigger cranes, liquid mud storage, reconfiguring living quarters to attract today’s workers.

Schnitger said that code of compliance work was a moving target for the industry. There were many possible codes -- each slightly different: American Petroleum Institute (API), European EC3 for steel design, Canadian CSA S16 and NORSOK N-004, among others. Periodic code reissues addressed new designs, model more real-world challenges, update as physics gets ever closer to reality. “One of the things, that I’m told, Bentley does extremely well is enable those kind of code checks automatically.” Analysts, structural engineers, naval architects and the like, stress the need for a structural tool such as SACS.

Researchers have found that 25% of the remaining recoverable conventional oil is in reservoirs that are in water depths of below 500m (IEA) and 25% of the remaining recoverable undiscovered oil and gas resources are located in the Arctic (USGS).

Ensuring compliance. Image from Bentley Systems.

She cited recent examples of deep (Shell Perdido), arctic (Gazprom Prirazlomnaya) and mega (Shell Prelude) projects. Perdido in a water depth of 2450m was as of 2013 the deepest project so far, with 44km of umbilicals and an estimated cost of $3 billion. Gazprom’s Prirazlomnaya development in the Pechora Sea, with a field life of 50 years, has 36 slanted wellsand cost around $800 million.

Shell’s Prelude floating LNG facility to be deployed off Western Australia, the biggest floating facility ever built, is still under construction by Samsung/Technip. The projected cost is reputed to be around $11 billion to $13 billion. It will stay in place for 20-25 years, and can supply over 100% of Hong Kong’s natural gas demand for a year.

These enormous assets will be in place for so long that over that time period they become basically IT projects that have a mechanical component but an awful lot of technology that will be swapped in and out in terms of making them more productive. Sophisticated collaboration technology is required here.

* Schnitger Corp. is a market research and analysis firm that specializes in engineering software


Categories: Arctic North Sea Vessels Europe Production Asia Construction Decommissioning Gulf of Mexico Rigs Technology Exploration LNG Drilling Engineering

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