products in action- February 2012

November 27, 2012

‘World first’ 10k drilling riser The offshore engineering team at Aquaterra Energy is hailing the 10,000psi-rated, 20in ID full bore drilling riser it recently installed for Apache North Sea as a world first. Designed specifically for Apache to drill three subsea wells on the Bacchus field from the Rowan Gorilla VII, the innovative high pressure riser system builds on the success of Aquaterra’s 5000psi riser system, using Merlin Connectors developed by Oil States Industries (UK).

The higher capacity 10,000psi system, again developed in conjunction with Oil States, uses Merlin connectors never before deployed at this size or pressure. To cope with the increased pressure and anticipated loads, the joints were fully forged with a wall thickness of 21/2in and the overall dimensions of the Merlin connector were substantially increased.

According to Aquaterra senior project engineer Stuart Dockree, the Merlin connector significantly increases running speed and improves the efficiency of operations when compared to standard flanged alternatives. ‘With a unique service agreement in place with Oil States Industries, Aquaterra Energy is the only service company providing this exclusive rental system to the market,’ he said, adding that his company offered a full scope of supply to Apache North Sea ranging from riser analysis to offshore installation.

Oselvar I-spool

Serimax recently fabricated, field joint coated and hydrotested an 85m pipe-in-pipe I-spool on behalf of Technip for Dong Energy’s Oselvar field in the Norwegian North Sea. The I-spool comprises a 10in Super Duplex pipe, insulated along its length, in a 14in carbon steel pipe externally coated with three-layer polypropylene. The workscope also included fabrication of the five outrigger sea-fastening structures required to support the I-spool on the installation vessel.

The project was carried out at a quayside fabrication facility recently set up by Serimax at Cromarty Forth Port Authority’s Invergordon base in the north of Scotland.

Reservoir optimization under uncertainty

Norway’s SPT Group is hailing the next-generation release of its reservoir flow model optimization solution, the newly launched MEPO4, as the industry’s first model for rigorous optimization under uncertainty.

Removing uncertainty is not possible, notes Stig Selberg, EVP reservoir optimisation at Oslo-based SPT, ‘but MEPO now enables geoscientists and reservoir engineers to understand and manage it better, to optimize development plans, drainage strategies and well targets even, with imperfect information’.

Since its first commercial release in 2004, MEPO has become an industry standard for automation and optimization of simulation workflows. As well as the uncertainty model, the latest version’s other new capabilities include a field management library to make it easier for engineers to optimize plateau length, well locations, well scheduling and production strategies.

The redesigned user interface and new 3D visualization technology (3DViz module) are expected to ‘significantly improve the understanding and analysis of different reservoir scenarios’, said Selberg, who sees MEPO4 ‘fast becoming the ultimate desktop application for all simulation projects targeting improved production, reservoir management and understanding of modeling and production uncertainties’.

Phase one research wrap

A Houston company specializing in the repair and rehabilitation oil & gas industry pipeline reports that it has successfully completed phase one of a nanotechnologybased research project. A SBIR grant from the US National Science Foundation funded Pipe Wrap’s research, which involved increasing the endurance of the company’s current product lines by the incorporation of nanoparticles.

‘We are pleased with the phase one research findings,’ said Genevieve Withers, the company’s founder. ‘The broader impact and commercial potential of this NSF project will be a cost-effective, user-friendly composite pipe repair product with an operational design life of over 50 years.’

Pipe Wrap started out in 1998 with a quick-fix pipe repair kit for the consumer industry. In 2006, the company introduced the A+ Wrap, a repair system for highpressure gas pipelines, and today it has ten different product lines targeting corrosion, insulation and repair.

The latest additions are FormaShield and Atlas Carbon Wrap, repair systems designed to bond to irregular shapes, help with anomalies and strengthen pipes cost effectively.

Atlas CFE is said to be stronger than e-glass and offer the highest tensile strength, requiring fewer layers to make a repair. Pipe Wrap is now developing a high temperature carbon system that can take temperatures of 429°F. Formashield (pictured above) is described as a user-friendly A to B part one to one mixture that forms well around pipeline configurations.

MRI-based pipeline monitoring

The UC-Berkeley, California spin-out 4D Imaging has unveiled a pipeline integrity monitoring system based on magnetic-resonance imaging (MRI). The system transmits the status of a pipeline to the internet and gives pipeline operators a real-time picture of the health of the pipeline, checking for fractures at welds or support systems and corrosion failure.

According to 4D Imaging, the system can be installed on any pipeline, small or large, and is cost effective. The pipeline MRI involves wrapping the pipe in wire coils. One set of coils is electrified which magnetizes the steel pipe. Then a second set of coils detects the magnetic field being given off by the now magnetized pipe. ‘Conveniently, when steel corrodes and degrades it becomes less magnetic, so variations in the pipes magnetism represent areas that may have corroded or become compromised,’ said 4D.

‘If the level of corrosion exceeds 0.008 of the pipe the system will issue a warning that the area of pipe has become compromised. The pipe’s temperature is also measured, both to account for changes in magnetism unrelated to corrosion and to keep track of the heat or cold stresses that the pipe has been under.

‘To minimize electricity usage, the coils electrify and record their data one at a time in sequence along the length of the pipeline. It takes the system about three seconds to thoroughly test a segment of pipe. Once the check has been performed the data is sent back to a computer and can be plotted against a schematic of the pipe, displaying which areas might require attention.’

Maxing operational performance and safety

Marine technology developer Kongsberg Maritime is leading a new research project called ‘Situation Awareness and Decision Support Tools for demanding marine operations’ (SITAWARE), which kicked off on 2 February. Part-funded by the Norwegian Research Council and undertaken in collaboration with academic research partners Chalmers University in Sweden, Vestfold University College and Haugesund University College in Norway, the new project has been implemented as the foundation for a new generation of support systems and solutions for marine operations.

The aim of SITAWARE is to alter the trend of growing complexity in marine systems by a user centred design (UCD) approach that simplifies the technical systems and interfaces and changes the focus from technology centred to human and task centred design processes. The research team says it will provide the solid scientific basis to achieve this.

‘We will start with a literature study followed by detailed analysis of one or two advanced marine operations and a system design specification. A prototype will be built and implemented in a simulator environment where experienced operators and users will evaluate it and give their feedback,’ explained Thor Hukkelås, Kongsberg Maritime principal engineer, marine operations.

The project will study how people make decisions during demanding and advanced marine operations, particularly under stress, with the purpose of learning how to build optimal systems for situational awareness and operator decision support. The solution is believed to be a combination of changes to control system design processes, information exchange methods, workload sharing and training. The project will address all phases of operations.

‘Demanding and critical marine operations like anchor handling, rig moves, heavy lift operations, subsea construction, pipe-laying, and FPSO offloading all push people, vessels and systems to their limits,’ added Hukkelås. ‘The consequences of making wrong decisions during failure or stress situations can be disastrous so sophisticated, but simple to understand decision support tools developed through user-centred design are vital. We believe the research will show that a shift in focus from boxes, systems and equipment to function, information and operation will have tangible effects on safety and operational performance.’

A major emphasis in the new generation of systems that will be developed as a result of the project is expected to be on functions that use all available information to predict future state, and through this, reduce the risk that situations develop in a critical direction. The prediction module will be a collection of ‘What if’ simulation models based on current and forecast weather, vessel systems, sensors, motion and stability data and data exchange (position, heading, speed etc) with all other vessels in the operation.

‘The new system will represent something completely new and will be designed in collaboration with leading specialist technology firms,’ concluded Hukkelås.

Perth on parade

A new line of fire-resistant cables, developed by Keystone with input from engineers, consultants and contractors involved in Chevron’s Gorgon LNG project, will feature on the Westrade Australia stand at this month’s Australasia Oil & Gas show (Perth, 22-24 February).

The cables’ silicone rubber insulation is claimed capable of maintaining circuit integrity under extreme heat conditions, transforming into a tough, protective layer in the event of a fire to ensure continuous operation of essential fire fighting services such as alarms, pumps, audible warning sirens and fans during the evacuation of personnel. According to Keystone, the cables help cut labour manhours because they fit in tight installation spaces without the need for special tools and handling procedures of the kind usually involved with traditional cables fitted with mica glass fire barrier tapes.

Halogen-free, they are designed to emit low smoke when exposed to flames and have low toxic emissions.

Also on display at the Perth show will be Boltstress Ultrasonics’ Intrinsi-TAG system, said to reduce the time spent on bolted joints by half. Using PDA’s, RFID tags and some powerful software to streamline shutdowns and new construction, the system reduces bolting process steps by 50% claim its Australian developers.

Other benefits claimed for Intrinsi-TAG include: electronic capture of workface activities; constant status updates can be linked to planning/completions software; prevents un-calibrated equipment use; electronically ensures assemblers use correct tooling and pressures; three extra levels of calculation to suit criticality; multiple manufacturers’ tooling can be used; and data transfer to and from piping design or completions systems.

Watch out!

Offshore engineers are an intrepid breed, ever ready to embrace the kind of hardship postings to which other, less hardy professionals give a wide berth. They also share a compulsion for tinkering with things, just to see how they work and how to make them better.

A case in point is Lorne Gifford, a subsea engineer currently working on ultra-deepwater developments offshore Angola, except here the habit seems to have gone beyond ‘tinkering’ and entered the realms of business sideline.

Gifford, who has been playing around with mechanical watches for years, recently built what he modestly describes not only as ’the best hand-built chronograph anywhere in the world’ but also ‘the ideal watch for the field engineer in the oil industry’. Dubbed the Offshore Professional Field Engineer, the timepiece is, according to Gifford, ‘sufficiently good that I’ve started making more than just one or two examples. At £1475 each, he rates them ‘a bit of a bargain’ at the moment and says he is delighted with the watches’ growing popularity. To date he has sold four, but, he quips, ‘I won’t be giving up the “day job” just yet.’

‘Having set up a limited company, so I can do the accounts properly, it turns out I’ve become one of only a handful of British watch companies that today actually design, engineer and build watches,’ he told OE. ‘A pity really, considering Britain has a fine horological history that has only recently been taken over by the Swiss!’ DM

Asgard gets its bearings: SKF group company S2M landed a two-year contract from MAN Diesel & Turbo and Aker Solutions Norway to supply custom-built SKF magnetic bearings and associated electronics for the subsea gas compression trains to be deployed on Statoil’s Åsgard field in the Norwegian Sea. The innovative bearings, which operate at high speed and will be fitted on the motor compressor shaft systems, are described by SKF as ‘an ultra-efficient, oil-free, frictionless and virtually maintenance-free alternative to mechanical bearings’.

In a magnetic bearing system the rotating drive shaft is supported and held in position by electromagnetic forces generated in radial and axial directions. These forces are generated and controlled by sophisticated electronics and copper-wired electromagnets to provide contactless, wear-free operation...





Locating leaks, monitoring flow


Downhole memory tools specialist Omega Well Monitoring has launched the patents-pending Leakator, a tool optimised to locate leaks and monitor downhole flow.

Omega said Leakator’s run-it-yourself capability means an existing on-site crew can operate the tool without the need for further staff. Easy to maintain, it has no moving parts – only the o-rings and detachable batteries need to be replaced during servicing – and requires just small AA batteries.

A modular memory instrument, the Leakator uses multiple sensor arrays, with synchronised data from the sensors merged and plotted against depth to highlight local variations in the well and indicate leaks. Optional sensor modules enable additional data to be monitored, including differential temperature, flow and flow direction. According to Omega, a Reservoir Group division, the sensors are physically distributed and have a balanced output, allowing extreme sensitivity to very small local anomalies of temperature and flow. A surface read out capability is also possible.

As a result of the modular assembly, operators can customise the set-up to fit the specific requirements of each individual job, determined by the various well conditions. And the tool’s 25mm diameter means it can access all zones.





Well stimulation at the double: Well technology company i-TE C has developed an innovative lower completion ball drop sleeve system which it claims can bring wells in tight formations online much more quickly than other methods. The company says its i-Frac system recently reduced stimulation of a North Sea well on the Norwegian Continental Shelf – in early paleocene and late cretaceous, carbonate formations – to just 11/2 days, allowing for more than 20 sleeves per stage to be installed in a cemented liner and opened sequentially with a single ball. A number of stages can be run in a single well.

On the Norwegian shelf, i-TE C was able to open 56 valves in three zones by dropping only three balls. Instead of using the most common ‘plug and perf’ technique, i-TE C used different size balls which were pumped into the well to open all the valves in each zone. This technology also enables the inclusion of a far greater number of valves as compared to alternative solutions.

‘Preparing a well for production is a costly and complicated undertaking,’ stressed i-TE C chief executive Roger Antonsen. ‘[I-Frac] not only adds great value in that you are able to start the production in shorter time, but it also provides a greater reservoir contact, which improves the stimulation of the well.

‘Additionally, the utilization efficiency of the oil reservoir is significantly increased, and our solution also allows for conventional cementing around the production string, which improves the zone isolation.’


Flowline installed: Aberdeen-based Moorings Systems has completed the installation of a flexible export flowline to transfer water to a DP tanker at the BP Valhall platform complex in the Norwegian North Sea. The project involved installation of 1160m of 6in flexible flowline, front end engineering, mobilisation of equipment, and offshore installation team.

L ocated in 70m of water, the Valhall complex consists of five separate, bridge-connected, steel platforms for quarters, drilling, wellheads, production and water injection respectively. In addition the field has two unmanned flank platforms, one in the south and one in the north, both around 6km from the field centre.

From its Montrose quayside facility, Mooring Systems deployed a 150t spooler containing five sections of Manuli hose (3 x 300m, 120m and 140m) on the DP vessel Olympic Zeus. The flowline was connected to the production platform using a specially designed hang off spool fitted to the end of the hose and the entire hose laid along the seabed away from the platform. A 20in Pusnes connector was fitted to the end of the hose, and laid on the seabed complete with pickup rope and marker buoys, for subsequent retrieval by DP tanker. The flowline was then leak tested and covered with concrete mud mats.


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