Products in action - OE June 2011

June 8, 2011

Heavy demand
Schilling Robotics confirmed during OTC that EMAS has ordered eight of its Heavy-Duty ROVs while another offshore contractor, Global Industries, is purchasing one of the company's new Ultra-Heavy- Duty systems. EMAS plans to install the work-class HD ROVs, rated for 4000m water depths and supplied with 850m capacity tether management systems, onboard four of its dedicated deepwater vessels. According to Schilling, the HD ROV, based on integrated sub-systems, reduces complexity, increases efficiency, and lowers the cost of owning and operating an ROV (OE February). The system, with hydraulic power to 150shp and dedicated interfaces for integrating intervention or survey tooling, features Schilling's power management system and advanced automatic piloting modes that deliver operational stability and precise control.

Shear force
GE's newest offering in the realm of BOP technology comes in the form of the Hydril Pressure Control Hydrostatic Pressure Assisted Shearing System (HPAS) system.

A key function of BOPs is to shear tubulars and seal the wellbore in the event of a kick from the well. By harnessing hydrostatic pressure from the surrounding seawater, GE says its BOP ram shearing solution enables operators to increase the force available for the shearing operation without recourse to additional accumulator bottles to supply the necessary hydraulic pressure. The HPAS system is said to reduce the accumulator bottle count on the stack by up to 90% and can also be reset for repeated use without requiring intervention.

A related new offering is the patented RamTel Plus System. Using hardware installed on the BOPs and Hydril Pressure Control software, the ram block's exact location inside the bore of the BOP and the pressure to close and/or shear can be displayed on GE deepwater drilling control systems while the stack is submerged at depths of up to 12,500ft. The RamTel Plus System provides operators with a direct method of determining ram position in addition to the standard method of using indirect flow meter calculations. Installation simply requires replacement of the existing cylinder head with one that in most cases incorporates a sensor on the tail rod. The system is also seen as a valuable aid in troubleshooting sealing and/or closing issues during testing and operations.

Also new from GE Hydril is the Pressure Control Gas Handler System, designed to improve the margin of safety for deepwater drilling rigs by diverting gas kicks from the riser into the choke line before they reach the drill floor.

Located below the telescopic joint as an integral part of the riser string, the specialized annular closing device has a 21in bore for easy passage of casing and wellbore tools. It supplements the traditional diverter system and can be run through the rotary table and the diverter housing. According to Hydril, the system was designed with easy maintenance in mind and safely routes entrapped gas from the riser to the choke and kill manifold, where it can be handled as if it were a kick being circulated normally from below a closed BOP.

E-line eye-view
EV launched a fully digital sideview and downview wellbore camera following tests in Australia, Europe and the US. The Optis Electric-Line video camera, which is a modular design with both 111/16in down and side-view cameras, provides high-definition digital and bi-directional transmission as well as surface control of resolution and refresh rate. It also has the ability to operate in temperatures as high as 125°C and can withstand pressures of up to 15,000psi, said EV chief executive Francis Neill.

‘Being able to actually see what is happening inside the wellbore offers a major game changer for the oil and gas industry,' he added. ‘Until now, it had relied far too heavily on guesswork or lead impression blocks to make key decisions.'

The Electric-Line as the latest addition to EV's suite of Optis wellbore tools, which includes drill-pipe, coil tubing, electric line and slickline deployment capability. Anticipated applications for the latest camera, which can be run on any mono or multiconductor cable, include imaging dropped objects and wellbore fish; mechanical inspection of wellbore hardware; monitoring of corrosion and erosion; screen inspection; detecting water or gas entry; and open-hole imaging in barefoot gas completions.

Measuring strain
A strain measurement system patented by BMT Scientific Marine Services can be integrated into the insulation and anti-corrosion layers on ultra-deepwater steel catenary risers (SCRs). According to BMT, full-scale bending strain measurement results from the touch down zone (TDZ) of two SCRs showed that its Insulation Strain Measurement System produces an accurate estimate of the strain in their underlying pipe steel without threatening the integrity of the insulation and corrosion protection layers.

An SCR monitoring system employing BMT's patented technology for the first time has been in service for three years monitoring production gas export risers in the TDZ offshore Nigeria, producing credible data – in line with accepted numerical models - driven by the motions of the associated FPSO.

The system is based on BMT's Subsea Strain Sensors configured to create a long-based ‘strain gauge', the foundations for which are welded to the risers' polypropylene insulating material. BMT said this attachment system, also patented, ensured the sensors were securely attached to the pipe without removing or degrading SCR insulation. The clamps expanded and contracted at the same rate as the insulation itself so that no stresses developed due to changes in temperature or pressure. Elements of the attachment system that would be subject to corrosion were also eliminated.

Phase four
Halliburton's  Phase Vertical Test Separator offering for deepwater applications separates and measures the flow rates of oil, gas and water being produced from the reservoir while also providing a controlled method of handling solid returns. With its accompanying Separator Control Skid, the self-contained unit – equipped with the valves and pneumatic controls needed to regulate vessel pressure and fluid levels during a well test with the addition of solids management – is designed for a variety of well testing, cleanup and flowback applications. Its redundant safety design incorporates pre-set relief valves, Hi/Lo pressure controls and rupture discs.

Halliburton said the test separator has already demonstrated noteworthy time and cost savings for an operator in Brazil, and that as well as obviating the need for sand-handling equipment it streamlines rig operations by eliminating time associated with removing produced solids. Claimed capable of maintaining 99.9% efficiency in gas liquid separation, the unit is configurable for two-, three- and four-phase operations and will form part of specialized trailer spread tailored for site-specific requirements.

Testing times
A talking point on Balmoral Offshore Engineering's booth this year was the recent opening of its new test facility in Aberdeen. Centrepiece of the Balmoral Subsea Test Centre, which offers a comprehensive range of procedures including hydrostatic, mechanical and laboratory testing, is a custom-built pressure test vessel, ‘PV6', thought to be the largest commercially available hyperbaric chamber in Europe.

‘Our R&D programme is continually developing new materials for use at increasingly greater depths and in high pressure/high temperature environments,' said Jim Milne, Balmoral's chairman and MD. ‘This outstanding test facility plays a significant role in our quest to lead the subsea buoyancy and insulation market in terms of product technology and materials development. We have vessels that can test to sea water depth equivalents of 7000m [23,000ft].'

Installed vertically with an internal diameter of 1.83m, an internal length of 9m and a maximum operating pressure of 410bar, the PV6 vessel is fitted with penetration flanges to allow connection of hydraulic and electrical lines. Other tests carried out at the centre, offered for third party use, include uplift determination, water ingress, bulk modulus, compression and creep.

‘It is vital that subsea equipment performs as expected in the field,' said Balmoral's engineering and projects manager, Fraser Milne. ‘When deployed many of our products are the final link in the subsea chain and installers must have the confidence that the products are entirely fit for purpose. Using this industry-leading facility ensures through-life performance for the products achieving certification.'

Reservoir modeling
Unveiling the latest iteration of its JewelSuite reservoir modeling software, Baker Hughes said it includes several breakthrough technologies that extend the scope of the software and the associated subsurface 3D modeling workflows. The integrated reservoir modeling tool uses patented 3D gridding technology to build accurate reservoir models for fields with complex geology, as well as providing connectivity between its generated models and reservoir simulators to further improve overall simulation accuracy.

According to the company, JewelSuite 2011 features a new approach to earth modeling collaboration, linked software platforms to enhance workflows, more powerful processing via multithreading and multicore functionality, and enhanced workflows for modeling unconventional reservoirs.

New built-in collaboration functionality allows team members to share information with or without a traditional hub-and-spoke database approach, while new audit trail, object-tracking and baseline modeling functionality enables team members and management to track and control the quality of subsurface models Microseismic visualization capabilities are also included.

‘We believe that we have taken the first steps in providing the industry with a true shared-earth model approach through the use of advanced processes and technologies in the JewelSuite platform,' said product development director Gerard de Jager.

Arctic on show
Existing Arctic oil and gas infrastructure as well projects being planned or considered for development through to 2017 feature in Infield Systems' new Arctic Frontiers Oil & Gas Map (, launched at OTC.

The new map was developed using Infield's proprietary databases, market forecasting models and mapping systems, supplemented with information from the US National Snow & Ice Data Center in Boulder, the UK's International Boundaries Research Unit at Durham University and Finland's University of Lapland Arctic Centre. Map insets focus on likely future oil & gas fields, fixed and floating platforms, and pipelines Alaskan, Canadian, Norwegian and Russian waters.

Smart management
Intergraph announced that its SmartPlant Foundation, which manages massively inter-related, interdependent and rapidly evolving data that is the backbone of its SmartPlant Enterprise multi-discipline integrated engineering suite, has been adopted by China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) for its offshore platforms and oil fields. Its data-centric capabilities and single-source-of-information concept will be used to develop CNOOC's engineering digital information system (EDIS) project, helping to manage the engineering information of 33 offshore platforms and support the management and implementation of engineering changes for enhanced safety.

Drilling ahead
A drilling reamer launched at OTC by Paradigm Oilfield Services has an innovative pressure-controlled on/ off mechanism, enabling operators to drill ahead without having to pull the tool out of the hole to reset it. The patent-pending hydraulic Real Time Activation Drilling Reamer is triggered by standpipe pressure changes.

According to Darren Ritchie, the company's engineering manager, the reamer is ‘different from anything else in the market because of its unique blade opening and the on/off mechanism can be instantly activated even when drilling thousands of feet down. Other tools with on/off features still depend on the operator feeding either a tag or a ball down the hole, so we believe the time saving that our rapid action pressure tool offers will be of great interest.'

Paradigm also unveiled its new patent-pending Circulation Sub with the same inside mechanism as the drilling reamer. It can be used on drill strings to aid cuttings transport, hole cleaning, increase circulation rates and for tripping dry pipe. Ritchie said the repeatable system enables this to be opened and closed as many times as required downhole without waiting for a ball to land on a seat.

Lighting up
The Emergi-Lite Nexus emergency lighting management system unveiled by Thomas & Betts provides real-time status of the entire emergency lighting and exit sign system, runs system diagnostics, performs required monthly and annual functional tests, generates maintenance logs and runs compliance reports from a central control unit.

Available in both wired and wireless versions, the system also operates independently of the emergency lighting and exit sign, so that it does not interfere with the operation of the lighting system or disrupt the power supply.

Norwegian naval architect Inocean has been contracted by China's Cosco (Dalian) Shipyard for the development and basic design of a new compact DP drillship, INO-80, suitable for global operation in ultra-deepwater. The design was on display for the first time at OTC . ‘Depending on the response in the market, we believe the first unit will be delivered in Q1 2014,' said Inocean CEO Jon Erik Borgen.

All-electric take two
The second-generation CameronDC subsea production system was launched during OTC and, according to Mark Carter, Cameron's VP of business development, improves on its pioneering ‘no batteries, no hydraulics' forerunner in three key areas.

The first-generation all-electric controls technology has been proved during nearly three years of service producing two Dutch North Sea subsea wells (OE February 2008), but as field data and condition monitoring told the company more about how the system functions it concluded there were ‘some things we wanted to change', Carter explained. For example, the coaxial cable in the communications system has been replaced with fiber optics, boosting communications speed exponentially, and Cameron's CAMLAN broadband control system has been incorporated. The latest system also features doubled functionality, allowing it to control 32 electrical actuators compared to its predecessor's 16 and cutting down the number of pods in the system. And simplified system architecture and improved functionality have also ensured it is cost-comparable with the electro-hydraulic multiplexed (EH-Mux) control systems common today.

The second-generation system is scalable up and down for different applications, including production, subsea processing and water injection, and Cameron is putting it through a comprehensive and demanding qualification program with three levels of qualification testing covering all components.

News of the second-generation system's arrival on the scene comes a dozen years after the 1999 launch of CameronDC development campaign. A pilot trial was completed on BP Magnus in the UK North Sea in 2004, and the first order – for Total's greenfield K5F gas development offshore the Netherlands – followed two years later.

COOL eyes on Brazil
The first potential application for SBM Offshore's COOL LNG transfer system is an offshore Brazil project. The Cryogenic Offshore Offloading & Loading system, hailed as the industry's first fully qualified and certified offshore LNG transfer system (OE last month), was in R&D for about six years. It employs a flexible cryogenic floating LNG hose and connectors designed to allow reliable and safe offloading from a floating LNG production vessel to an LNG carrier in tandem-moored configuration. It can also be used for importing LNG onto a floating storage and re-gasification unit (FSRU).

Commenting on the system during OTC, Andrew Newport, SBM's chief engineer, said the company had recognized a need for robust, reelable offloading system that enabled LNG transfer over a distance of 100m or more. ‘This was one of the drivers for a floating system rather than an aerial system,' he explained.

At the heart of the SBM system is an assembly of proven components rather than fundamentally new technology, Newport added. There is for instance an inner composite hose protected by an outer marine hose. The system will be manufactured in a facility in France owned by Fadec, described by Newport as ‘a convenient location for us to do this test work'. A certain amount of heat gain during a transfer was ‘fairly standard', he noted, adding: ‘It's not a problem with the system.'

SBM Offshore is one of three contractors competing to provide an LNG solution for Petrobras. The winner is expected to be announced by end-2011.

Life-of-field lift
An Autonomous Inspection Vehicle (AIV) expected to ‘revolutionize' life-of-field projects has completed in-water trials and has now entered the commissioning phase, reported Subsea 7 at OTC. The first commercial AIV, put together in conjunction with Scottish-based software developer Seebyte and initially capable of general visual inspection, is expected to be available in late 2011. From there on the subsea contractor said it intends to develop a series of such vehicles AIVs, including fully capable workclass sized intervention AIVs.

‘With the arrival of the AIV, subsea structures such as manifolds, wellheads and risers will be able to be inspected by this tetherless technology, significantly increasing flexibility and efficiencies throughout the lifeof- field cycle,' said Neil Milne, Subsea 7 VP for life-of-field services.

CFD modeling determined the final design of the prototype vehicle during development, with its shape changing to optimise stability and manoeuvrability while conserving onboard power resources. Fully autonomous, the vehicle is claimed capable of operating for a 24-hour period on a single charge of its lithium-ion batteries. OE

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