One of Bergen’s biggest and boldest offshore players is Framo Engineering, now wholly owned by Schlumberger following its purchase of the Sandsli-headquartered company’s remaining equity shares in June 2011. The two organisations had worked together for 11 years before deciding the time was right to fully combine their market offerings, more specifically Framo’s multiphase pumps and metering system expertise and Schlumberger’s subsea flow assurance and surveillance technologies
Since its arrival on the offshore scene in 1983, Framo – otherwise known as Frank Mohn – has carved out a substantial share of the flow measurement market, established an enviable track record in the subsea multiphase boosting arena and developed a useful additional business stream through the supply of swivels for FPSO turrets.
Business is good and the company is prospering. The measure of Framo’s confidence in its core markets going forward can be seen in its investment – thought to be the thick end of NKr1 billion – in an imposing new system assembly and test facility at Horsøy. This ultra-modern plant, being brought into service in phases, has literally been blasted out of the rocky terrain of a little island half an hour’s drive from Bergen’s city centre. It is to Horsøy’s giant test pit that Framo’s long-mooted wet gas compressor will be brought for total system integration and testing – as and when Statoil makes the final investment decision on its Gullfaks 2030 compression project – and eventual loadout from the facility’s extensive deepwater quay. Around 1.5 million m2 of rock has been shifted to make way for the Horsey plant.
Managing director Ole Steine, something of a fixture at Framo having been with the company for nearly four demonstrates that the company believes in what it is doing. ‘Spectacular’ is his description of the new plant, heavily glazed and entirely protected from Bergen’s notorious elements. ‘We don’t build big black boxes with small windows – we do it our way,’ says Steine. ‘We need super facilities to provide for the market super products.’ Horsey’s potential as an industrial complex is enormous, he adds, pointing out that the new plant, although quite a size already, occupies just 200,000m2 of the 750,000m2 area available there for development by ‘Team Framo’, including daughter companies and affiliated Schlumberger business units. Framo currently employs 420 people and is looking to hire another 160.
According to Steine, ‘testing, testing, testing’ is the driver behind the phased development of the new Horsøy facility and Framo’s earlier establishment of a hydrocarbon test loop at Fusa, where much of qualifying work on the company’s wet gas compressor has been done.
The 18th Underwater Technology Conference will take place in Bergen this summer (13/14 June). Recognised as one of the industry’s most insightful conferences, UTC’s theme this year is ‘Subsea growth – how to make it happen?’ The conference, which will be opened by Ola Borten Moe, Norwegian secretary of state for petroleum & energy, will acknowledge that record projected market growth for subsea developments is putting a strain on already stretched resources – one forecast predicts that over the next five years the subsea market will grow from $30 billion to $60-70 billion annually.
At UTC, operators and suppliers will come together to debate how the industry might meet this demand – can the industry attract the talent to continue its success in delivering technology innovation, while making subsea production even more cost efficient, safe and environmentally friendly?
The two-day programme will see speakers from around the globe share their views on the way forward for the industry, while reporting recent successes in field developments, technology breakthroughs, drilling, and subsea well operations and integrity. On 12 June there will also be an opportunity to visit Statoil’s visualisation centre in Sandlsi, or Framo’s new assembly and test facility at Horsey.
Framo’s track record of system deliveries over the years is an impressive one, with its name already associated with some 50 FPSO and FSO swivel stacks around the world. The company tends these days to focus its energies more on the turret’s design and commissioning, leaving its fabrication to the shipbuilder, and the development of new technologies such offshore LNG transfer systems and – in collaboration with Teekay Petrojarl Production – a new-generation FPSO internal turret, mooring and fluid transfer system.
Meters and pumps remain the products with which the company is most readily identified, however. It has to date delivered around 1300 multiphase flow meters, more than 200 of them subsea. The latest deliveries of its PhaseTester Vx multiphase metering system – developed in conjunction with Schlumberger (OE April 2006) – are rated for 3000m water depth, 15,000psi service and the full multiphase range between 100% liquid and 100% gas. ‘We’ve had customers stating that they have increased their recovery rates by up to 17% as a result of close monitoring the reservoir using multiphase flow meters. More regularly we hear about 5-8% increases,’ says Jon Arve Sværen, Framo’s VP sales, marketing & business development.
The 70-plus pumps the company has delivered to over 25 projects since 1994 have between them clocked up an impressive 1.2 million running hours subsea. ‘Framo is a system supplier with in-house pump design expertise, and a pump manufacturer with subsea system expertise. That makes us quite unique,’ says Sværen. As well as multiphase pumps, the company makes centrifugal, single phase pumps for water injection and a hybrid unit that provides a bridge between the two.
Recent high-profile EPC deliveries include a complete multiphase pump system for use in the second year of production from Total’s CLOV development in 1000-1300m of water off Angola; six subsea multiphase hybrid booster pump systems (plus two spares) to serve the FMC-supplied separators on Total’s Pazflor development, also in Angola block 17; a high boost subsea multiphase booster pump system for Petrobras’ Barracuda HMPS in 1040m of water offshore Brazil and, for the same client, a subsea produced water injection pump system for the Marlim SSU in 850m of water. Currently being manufactured, and due for delivery next spring for CNR in the UK North Sea, is a system destined to replace a non-Framo twin-screw pump installed on the Lyell field.
But the ‘big breakthrough’ for Framo was the deepwater Gulf of Mexico order it received from Chevron last year covering the engineering, procurement, manufacture and delivery of several complete pumping systems for the Jack & St Malo fields in water depths ranging from 2100m to 2400m. ‘These will be 3MW units – the biggest we have done – with 13,000psi rating and a 4000psi boost,’ notes Sværen. ‘So this is an enormous drawdown, with a lot of back pressure. We are kind of proud that we’ve been given this order and it’s a big task for us.’
The pumps to be delivered – in the summer of 2013 – for this challenging project are single-phase for day one production but, as Sværen points out, since all Framo pumps have the same externals Chevron and its partners will have life-of-field options that need not involve major subsea or topside infrastructure changes. ‘The pumps can be exchanged for whatever technology best suits the field conditions at any given time,’ he says.
‘They can add or replace them with multiphase pumps when reservoir pressure declines and the increasing gas content requires it.’ OE