Sparring partner

Meg Chesshyre
Friday, January 4, 2013
Technip's fifteenth spar platform, destined for Anadarko's Lucius field in the US Gulf of Mexico is now over 60% complete, with six out of eight rings in place at the company's Pori yard in Finland and on schedule for towout mid-april 2013. Meg Chesshyre reports on this and other recent talking points at the French offshore contracting giant.

Technip’s fifteenth spar platform, destined for Anadarko’s Lucius field in the US Gulf of Mexico is now over 60% complete, with six out of eight rings in place at the company’s Pori yard in Finland and on schedule for towout mid-April 2013. Meg Chesshyre reports on this and other recent talking points at the French offshore contracting giant.

The Lucius spar will be collected from Technip’s fabrication facility on the Gulf of Bothnia and dry towed on Dockwise’s Mighty Servant to the Kiewit yard in the Gulf of Mexico. This will be followed by one month’s preparation for the wet tow to the field, which is being carried out by Heerema under a separate contract.

Technip has a lump sum contract from Anadarko Petroleum for the engineering, construction and transport of this 23,000 ton truss spar hull, which will be installed in around 7100ft (2165m) of water. First oil from Lucius – Technip’s seventh spar job for Anadarko following Neptune, Nansen, Boomvang, Gunnison, Red Hawk and Constitution – is scheduled in 2014.

The Lucius floating production facility, with a nameplate capacity of 80,000b/d of oil and 450mmcf/d of natural gas, will be jointly owned by Anadarko (35%), Plains E&P (23.3%) ExxonMobil (15%) Apache (11.7%), Petrobras (9.6%) and Eni (5.4%).

‘We’ve made a very conscious effort as we grew our regions to diversify our portfolio. The diversification of the portfolio from a geographical, client, technological and contractural standpoint is the best way to manage our risk.’ Thierry Pilenko

All bar two of the 14 spars Technip has delivered to date have been built at the Pori yard. The other two – Kikeh for Murphy Oil, and Red Hawk for Kerr-McGee (later acquired by Anadarko) – were built in Malaysia and the US, by Malaysia Marine & Heavy Engineering and Gulf Marine Fabricators respectively.

Technip’s Pori yard with (inset top) reel delivery to FlexiFrance from Pori and (inset bottom) Jubilee PLETs taking shape.

The next project to be executed at the Finnish yard is expected to be BP’s Mad Dog phase two spar, which is due for sanction in 2Q 2013 and will be installed on Green Canyon 782 near the first Mad Dog spar delivered by Technip in 2004. A phase two hull and mooring systems FEED contract secured by Technip in April was the first award under a 10-year spar platform master services agreement signed with BP last year, which allows for the building of three spars in total. Detailed engineering for the new Mad Dog spar is now under way.

Apache and Apache 2 conversion.

In July this year Technip received a letter of intent from Statoil for its Aasta Hansteen (previously named Luva) field development, offshore Norway, in around 1300m (4250ft) of water. The project will be led by Technip – which beat off competition from Aker Solutions in the FEED phase – in consortium with Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI). The contract covers the engineering, procurement, construction and transportation of a spar hull, the mooring systems as well as the design of the steel catenary risers. Aasta Hansteen will be the first spar in Norwegian waters, the first spar concept chosen by Statoil and the largest ever built with a total hull length of 195m. Another novelty will be its condensate storage capacity – some 25,000m3.

Technip’s operating centre in Houston will be responsible for project management and engineering while HHI takes care of hull fabrication in Korea, with Pori providing support services. Technip’s Oslo office will be responsible for the marine operations to be performed prior to deck mating in a fjord on the west coast of Norway in the summer of 2015. The agreement is signed based upon the plan for development and operation’s authority approval expected early 2013 for a start-up late 2016.

Aasta Hansteen’s hull is being built in Korea partly because of lack of capacity at Pori but also because client Statoil wanted to diversify its manufacturing base. Technip MD Thierry Pilenko explains: ‘They wanted to join forces with Technip so that in the future Statoil will not only be relying on capacity in Norway, but on capacity outside, for example, Korea. Although we are mostly known for our subsea activity, we have been chosenbecause our capacity to fabricate and engineer projects outside Norway, gives them access to a much broader base.’

Technip is the reference company for spars, notes Tom Ayers, the company’s VP offshore projects, North America, pointing out Aasta Hansteen will be the 16th spar to be executed by Technip out of only 19 built so far worldwide. Ayers says the company now has a proven delivery model transferrable to other yards, such as the Far East, and is ready to tackle the ultra-deepwater, Arctic environment, storage capacity and North Sea adaptation challenges raised by recent market evolutions.

Outlining Technip’s Arctic capabilities, Philippe Barril, executive VP and COO onshore/offshore, notes that Technip developed a spar design for the Shtokman project. Current R&D is focused on North Caspian shallow water platform design and installation methods. The company has also signed an agreement with Cervval and Bureau Veritas to develop an ice-modelling simulation programme. Its purpose is to predict the flow of ice around fixed and floating structures and calculate the ice-loadings on the platforms. It will allow platform structures to be optimised to minimise the ice loadings and ice rubble build-up, prior to final design verification in an ice test basin.

As well as spar platforms, Pori has also built semisubmersible and jackup drilling rigs and drillships, and delivers subsea products (buoyancy cans, suction piles, pipeline end terminations, flowline and tensioners, in-line tees, final terminal assemblies and in-line terminal assemblies) to some of the most challenging projects in the Gulf of Mexico and West Africa, says Roland Bianciotto, Technip Offshore Finland GM.

Lucius spar section under construction; anchor piles; Lucius spar construction; spar sections in the spar hall; finalising Perdido hull.

Recent projects have included manufacturing part on the Marine Well Containment System for preventing oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico. This is due for delivery in January 2013. The conversion of the pipelay vessel Apache II was carried out in 2010. Technip Offshore Finland also engineered and fabricated the sub-structure for Hywind, Statoil’s pilot offshore floating wind turbine in 2009, plus a local prototype GBS windmill Pori 1.

Left to right: sailaway of Shell’s Perdido spar, the deepest spar in the world; Horn Mountain spar; artist’s impression of spar for Aasta Hansteen; Pori 1 wind turbine in packed ice.

Meanwhile, development of the company’s spar technology continues, with new innovations for ultra-harsh environments in the northern North Sea, ice resistant structures and moorings for the Arctic region, condensate storage for remote gas field development and open sea floatover installation of large topsides, notes Bianciotto.

Diversified backlog

According to chairman and CEO Thierry Pilenko, Technip has a record diversified backlog (at June 2012) of €12.7 billion. The company is now focused on sustainable and profitable growth, he says. Profitability has risen from around 4-5% in the early 2000s to about 10% over the past three years. This 10% is a blend between 15% in the subsea business and 6-7% in the on/offshore business. The subsea share of the business has been steadily increasing. The ratio is currently about 45% for subsea and 55% for on/offshore. Ideally a 50:50 ratio over time will be fine. Margins need to be higher in subsea, because it is a more capital intensive business, he says, adding: ‘You need the ability to renew the fleet, to expand the plants, and to change the machinery in the plants.’ Technip has a fleet of 34 vessels, five of them under construction.

Technip has doubled its workforce over the same period of time. ‘We were 17,000 in 2004. Today, including the recent acquisition of Stone & Webster, we are at 32,000 people, and we will probably close the year at around 35,000,’ notes Pilenko. ‘We’ve made a very conscious effort as we grew our regions to diversify our portfolio. The diversification of the portfolio from a geographical, client, technological and contractural standpoint is the best way to manage our risk.’

He highlights Ghana as an emerging oil and gas country where Technip is investing in the future. The company opened a country office in 2009, and an engineering office in 2012 – now with 25 people (80% Ghanaians). The Jubilee field, where Technip assisted on the subsea side, has been hailed as the fastest deepwater development in the world – five years from discovery to first oil. Elsewhere in Africa, Pilenko sees Angola and in the medium term Mozambique as the most promising countries workwise. ‘Africa is one of the areas where we see elephant projects, particularly for the subsea, but also for LNG,’ he says.

Elsewhere, Technip boasts a 25-year presence in Norway and is ready for another 25 years there, observes Pilenko. With major ongoing projects including Eni’s Goliat, Marathon’s Bøyla and Statoil’s Aasta Hansteen, the company’s workforce in Norway now totals 500 today, with recruitment of another 100 under way. ‘The reason we won Aasta Hansteen was because we understood Norway, we understood the client, we had the ability to find the best solution for the fabrication of this platform,’ comments Pilenko.

Above: Technip’s spar track record.

‘The next step will be much deeper waters from 2500m down to 4000m,’ he adds. ‘Clients see targets after shooting seismic down to 4000m. Today it is seismic, but in five years time, I’m sure we will be in the development stage.’ Technip is currently qualifying risers down to 3000m for use in areas such as the Brazilian pre-salt, where the water depths are 2500-3000m. It is also working with Schlumberger on making flexible pipes intelligent.

The acquisition of underwater contractor Global Industries, completed in December last year, has brought with it complementary subsea know-how, assets and experience, notably including two newly-built leading edge S-lay vessels, as well as strong positions in the Gulf of Mexico (US and Mexican waters), Asia Pacific and the Middle East. Technip anticipates the acquisition will expand its addressable market by about 30% in deep-to-shore subsea infrastructure. It also provides a heavylift capability.

Several projects have already been identified and are expected to materialise in the medium-term. Technip upped its strength on the asset integrity side with the acquisition of Cybernetix in January this year. It has also acquired AE Tech.

On the downstream side, Technip completed the acquisition of Stone & Webster process technologies and associated oil & gas engineering capabilities from The Shaw Group in August. The transaction, originally announced in May, is expected to enable Technip to expand in promising growth areas such as the US, where downstream markets will benefit from the supply of unconventional gas, and add skilled resources, notably in research in the US, and engineering in the US, the UK and India. A new business unit, Technip Stone & Webster Process Technology, is being developed within the on/offshore segment.

Technip and Heerema signed a worldwide alliance agreement this October where the two companies will combine their capabilities to help their clients best address the fast growing subsea ultra-deepwater market. The companies anticipate ultra-deepwater projects being the fastest growing part of the subsea market over the next several years. For example, ultra-deepwater infield pipelines are forecast to grow at a yearly pace of more than 15% 2012-17. The five-year alliance agreement makes available the complementary assets of the two companies for ultra-deepwater EPCI projects in all subsea markets requiring substantial tensioning capability. The two companies will bid together on several major projects in future years. OE

Categories: North America Construction Design Engineering

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