Getting smarter and safer

October 1, 2011

Securing safe, smart, sustainable supply' provided the theme for SPE Offshore Europe, the biennial Aberdeen conference and exhibition that continues to bring in the crowds. A record-setting 32,025 unique visitors attended September's show. OE's Jennifer Pallanich, Russell McCulley and Meg Chesshyre joined them.

Samir Brikho

Offshore Europe 2011, trimmed back to three days to make way for the Walker Cup amateur gold tournament hosted by Aberdeen this year, drew 4.2% more unique visitors than 2009's four-day event. The cumulative attendance "or those visiting and revisiting on more than one occasion" was also slightly higher at 48,575. The exhibition space grew too, covering over 25,000m2 this year and with more than 1500 companies displaying their wares.

"Understandably in a complex global industry there are still many uncertainties but the fundamentals of the business are here to stay," declared this year's conference chairman Samir Brikho, chief executive of Amec. "Based on what we debated and discussed in the conference sessions, it is very clear that if we want to manage supply and demand, there is no room for complacency. We need to be much more down to earth in our thinking when considering what will be the best solutions and to continue to put safety at the top of our priorities."

Exhibition director Elaine Hulse said the response to the show's new Deep Water Zone "indicates that it was a resounding success."

UK energy secretary Charles Hendry (right) and Wild Well Control president Freddy Gebhardt

Well capping duo

The offshore industry's growing oil spill prevention and response capabilities featured prominently at the show, with a major panel session, the unveiling of Wild Well Control's Global Subsea Well Containment System and the official launch of Oil Spill Prevention and Response Advisory Group (OSPRAG) well capping device designed primarily for use offshore the UK and Norway.

On display in its entirety for the first time at sister company Workstrings International's Dyce facility during the conference, the WWC Global Subsea Well Containment System is rated to 10,000ft and billed as a modular system that can be deployed anywhere in the world in a matter of days. The system's various elements, including the capping device, drilling spool, dispersant injection equipment, debris removal shears and skids, will be stored about 30 miles outside Aberdeen, where they can be moved by truck to an available Boeing 747 or other large cargo plane.

Equipment in the GSWCS package includes an 183/4in 15K Cameron Iron Works (CIW), single ram, Type TL BOP, one 183/4in 15K CIW, double ram, Type TL BOP, a drilling spool with double valves and chokes, a subsea dispersant injection system, and the GX 2500 and GX 660 series shears for debris removal activities.

UK energy minister Charles Hendry praised the high degree of industry collaboration that went into the development of the OSPRAG capping device, also unveiled at Offshore Europe.

Praising the industry taskforce approach to addressing safety issues and implementing preventative reforms, he said: "This has been an industryled project, a lot of good companies working together to try to come up with a containment device."

The OSPRAG cap, put through its transport and installation paces on a specially-built simulated North Sea well during a 10-day exercise hosted by Total E&P this summer (OE September), now forms a key element of the UK's offshore oil spill emergency contingency planning. Designed specifically for deployment in UKCS metocean conditions, it is being held on standby in northeast Scotland.

Poll: innovation vital

When it comes to technology, nearly three-quarters of Offshore Europe delegates said they believed companies neglecting to invest in innovation will restrict short-term growth in the oil & gas industry, according to a poll conducted during the show by Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) on behalf of GL Noble Denton. Of those responding, 74% said a lack of investment in R&D activity by oil and gas companies would have a negative impact on the sector, while 26% thought there would be few or no consequences if companies failed to act.

Pekka Paasivaara, a member of the GL executive board, said: "The cost of tighter regulation, higher taxation and operating in extreme environments has caused oil and gas companies to reduce their investment in R&D at a time when innovation is vital."

However, oil and gas professionals remain upbeat about the future of North Sea operations. According to the poll, 57% of respondents said they expect investment in the North Sea oil & gas industry to increase in 2012 while 22% believe it will decrease and 21% had no opinion.

"The result of this poll clearly shows that recent concerns over hefty taxes, ageing assets and increased operating costs have not dampened optimism for further investment in North Sea oil and gas operations next year,' Paasivaara said.

The poll is part of a larger survey EIU is carrying out for the technical advisory firm. That survey, to be published in January 2012, is intended to provide insight on the challenges the sector expects to face next year and beyond. A sequel to the study Deep water ahead? The outlook for the oil and gas industry in 2011 released earlier this year, it will focus on a range of issues affecting the industry, including the future of research and development activity; balancing risk and return; the impact of post-Macondo legislation; and the levels and locations of capital investment that companies anticipate in 2012.

Colin MontgomerieBG CHIPS IN: Scottish golfing great Colin Montgomerie drew a crowd of fans and well-wishers to the BG Group stand, where the Ryder Cup captain was on hand to receive a £300,000 pledge from BG to Monty's Maggie's Appeal. The organisation is raising £3 million to establish a new Maggie's Cancer Caring Centre at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary. "Monty' took time out from official duties to pose for photos and autograph golf balls.

Risky business

As recently as this spring, Libya was ranked among the safest countries in Africa for international companies doing business there, according to AKE. Using its own ascending scale of risk, with 100 the highest, Libya rated a seven early this year, making it the safest African country. But as the Qaddafi regime crumbled, its ranking shot up to 50 "almost overnight', AKE senior risk consultant John Drake told an Offshore Europe briefing session, bumping Somalia from the top spot.

The rapid deterioration of security caught many by surprise and exposed serious flaws in emergency evacuation plans, most of which depended on the availability of air service to get personnel out.

AKE worked around the no-fly zone to help clients get employees and families out of the country overland and by ferry. But the company is advising HS&E personnel to rethink emergency plans.

"We are expecting more risk to come,' Drake said, with slow reinvestment and inevitable missteps by new political establishments likely to lead to more social unrest. "The Arab Spring is not over,' he said.

The Middle East and North Africa aside, fears among energy company staff tend to focus on highly publicized events: piracy off the east African coast, kidnappings in Nigeria and South America. But the far more common risks to employees are the mundane ones, most notably auto accidents and illness.

Security consulting, Drake said, "is often about managing perception'.

Safety: a moving target

The industry has a collective goal of reducing hydrocarbons released in the UKCS from 187 events in 2010 to 93 in 2013, Eric Sirgo, general manager of operations at Chevron Upstream Europe, told a packed breakfast briefing during Offshore Europe. This tough goal required immediate action, he said.

Quoting numbers from a three-year survey of 20 operators, Sirgo noted that about 70% are gas releases, 70% are during normal operations, 70% are valves, pipes, vessels and small bore piping, 70% occur on fixed facilities (but floaters are disproportionate) and 90% occur on manned facilities. Causes are usually poor maintenance and engineering, and operator error.

Referring to a January 2010 fire caused by a leaking connection on Chevron's normally unmanned Erskine platform, he said he was struck by the effect on employees' confidence. "Is this a place that is safe to return to? There was also the psychology of blame.' The accident occurred because an operator could not read stenciling on a ring.

Steve Walker, head of the UK Health & Safety Executive's offshore division, said there are increasing expectations from the public and the press. "We have a moving target. There is no silver bullet, but duty holder needs a bespoke solution.'

Oil & Gas UK health and safety director Robert Paterson said: "The HSE's most recent offshore safety statistics showed we have managed to reduce the number of major and significant releases significantly in the last year – down to 73 from 85 the previous year.'

Meanwhile, a new study unveiled at Offshore Europe showed that while health & safety information is often widely available to oil & gas industry employees, accessing relevant information quickly can be difficult due to fragmented delivery methods, a surfeit of information and messaging that may not address the industry's increasingly diverse workforce.

Sponsored by engineering software specialist company Aveva and carried out by researchers from the Aberdeen Business School at Robert Gordon University, the "Health & Safety Information Gap' survey polled 374 health & safety officials, senior managers and engineers from operating companies, oilfield service providers, contractors and suppliers. Over 80% of respondents said health & safety was a priority at their companies and were generally satisfied with the information systems used to assess and improve safety and respond to emergencies.

However, more than 30% of respondents had not received training on how to access safety information and over 40% reported difficulty in sorting through what was available to get at the relevant information.

"You can simply provide more information, but is it useful? Is it usable?' said Rita Marcella, dean of the Aberdeen Business School and co-author of the report. "Major themes' running throughout the study were the need for simpler systems to disseminate safety information and better ways of sharing safety information and practices among different companies – "a challenge', Marcella acknowledged, given potential liability issues where accidents are involved.

Aveva VP of marketing Steve Tongish said the ongoing study would help his company develop better tools for communicating health and safety information within and among clients.

: OilOnline celebrated the successful 2011 launch of its Career Center with a business card draw and champagne prizes for visitors on each of the show's three days. The new OilOnline database features the resumes of suitably qualified oil & gas industry personnel around the world, most frequently placed there by "passive' job candidates, ie those already employed but open to a move.

NWECS could do better

The UK and Norway need to work harder to stay in the premier league of the oil & gas business, according to data analyst Infield Systems. Recent discoveries of smaller, more isolated fields have been insufficient to compensate for production declines among the major UK and Norwegian fields that spurred production growth in the NWECS until the 1990s, said Infield's Peter Kiernan and Roger Knight in a report produced to coincide with Offshore Europe. These once significant, but declining, fields include Brent, Forties, Ninian, Beryl, Cormorant, Dunlin and Murchison in the UK and Oseberg, Gullfaks and Statfjord in Norway.

"Apart from a few exceptions – such as Ormen Lange in the Norwegian Sea and Laggan/Tormore and Rosebank West of Shetland – the NWECS does not have extensive deepwater assets to replace output decline among producing shallow water regions,' said the report. "The Norwegian Continental Shelf is almost entirely a shallow water region, unlike the Gulf of Mexico where production from recent deepwater finds has replaced output decline from mature shallow water developments.

"The NWECS story differs from the Gulf of Mexico. The prevalence of smaller, more isolated field discoveries increasingly characterizes the NWECS reserves profile. Data show a steady increase in the number of fields coming onstream in the NWECS since the early 1980s, but this has not always led to a corresponding increase in the level of reserves coming onstream. The data show a steady decline in the total reserves coming onstream since the mid-1990s, with the exception of 2007. That was a big year for the NWECS with the Ormen Lange, Snøhvit/Albatross and Buzzard fields coming onstream.

"Nevertheless, the number of fields coming onstream every year has increased since the mid-1990s, with over 30 fields beginning production in 1997, 1999 and 2008. This year to date the number of fields coming onstream has jumped to 33, compared to just 15 in 2010.

"Since the early 1980s the size of discoveries has topped 6 billion boe only once, in 1984, and has not surpassed 2 billion boe since the mid-1990s. So although over the last decade there has been a marked increase in the number of fields being discovered this has not, however, translated into more sizeable discoveries. In these ten years the most significant discoveries in the NWECS have been in shallower waters: Buzzard in the UK North Sea, operated by Canadian independent Nexen, and the recent potential giant find Avaldsnes/ Aldous Major South in Norwegian waters.

"More needs to be done in the UK and Norway to facilitate E&P in the NWECS, as neither energy producer has a "get out of jail free' card that the US has discovered with its deepwater lower tertiary trend.

"While Norway will be looking for opportunities in the arctic Barents Sea, the UK sees the West of Shetland region as a prospective E&P frontier; however, big efforts are required to reverse or even arrest the forecasted production declines in the coming decades.'

Farewell cheap oil

The age of cheap oil is coming to an end, DNV warned in its Technology Outlook 2020 report presented at Offshore Europe. With a forecasted increase in global energy demand of 19% by 2020, the sector will have to push the boundaries to satisfy this need.

According to the report, drilling speed may increase by as much as 50%. Drilling operations will also become more efficient in mature fields to enable development of smaller reservoirs and increase oil recovery in existing fields. As 25% of the world's remaining reserves are potentially untapped in the Arctic, DNV predicted that activity will increase in this area. New technology will be essential to raise industry practices and deal with the harsh environment.

Horizontal drilling and the practice of hydraulic fracturing are expected to spread worldwide, according to the report. Unconventional gas will radically change the entire gas market, but unconventional oil production is expected to remain limited due to the environmental challenges and high cost. Demand for gas is expected to grow almost twice as much as for oil. In addition shale gas will be introduced to the mix due to more competitive pricing, the report said.

Elisabeth Harstad, managing director of DNV Research & Innovation, said: "We are in a decade of transition, and development of new oil & gas technology will have to be fast-paced to keep up. However, it will be more a case of technology evolution rather than revolution.

"Much of what will characterise 2020 is already in the labs or on the drawing boards but we can expect new applications to unlock some of the existing major industry barriers.'

MODU software move

Classification group ABS released a new suite of MODU notations addressing regulatory requirements of offshore drilling and the increased technical sophistication of mobile offshore drilling units, especially on the software side.r> The new notations include Integrated Software Quality Management (ISQM), a risk-based software development and maintenance process guide built on internationally recognized standards. The ISQM process validates the software installation on the unit and then monitors for consistency when there are software updates or a change in hardware.

Bret Montaruli, ABS VP for offshore technology, said ISQM emphasizes the verification and validation of the multiple software packages and provides a process to manage software over the offshore unit's life.

"There is growing recognition within industry that organizations will need to institute a change management process for software,' he added. "Industry has traditionally focused on structures and equipment. However, software has become such an important component in the operational phase particularly since control systems for offshore installations and units become more complex. Successful implementation relies heavily on the integration of software developed by multiple vendors.'

Acquisitive Amec

Following the acquisitions this year of Qedi, Zektingroup and Mactec, Amec is going to continue to look at opportunities for further acquisitions, the group's COO Neil Bruce told an Offshore Europe briefing.

"I think it is has been fairly well publicised that at the end of the [2010 financial] year we had £750 million on our balance sheet. We are now just shy of £500 million, and we intend to use that,' he said.

The company's four main markets are oil & gas, mining, clean energy, which is mainly nuclear, and the environmental and infrastructure side, explained Bruce. "Our stated aim is to expand in South America, the Middle East and Australasia. We believe a lot of our customers are investing in the emerging markets. The combination of the four markets and the three geographies is the top of our list.

"When Amec launched Vision 2015 at the end of 2009 the company had a stated aim that by 2012 it would be double the size. That's what we need to deliver,' he said.The group recognised the need for recruitment several years ago and decided to take on 50 graduates a year in the UK – there are now 200 going through the system. And to date 1100 people have undergone the various training and development courses run by the Amec academy, started up five years ago. According to Bruce, the company's Europe & West Africa operation alone hired 2000 in the first six months of this year, demonstrating the continuing importance of the North Sea market.

ALL IN GOOD TASTE: Was that cheese or chocolate? Visitors to the "vision tunnel' event run on the stand of automation and information technologies provider Invensys were invited to don blindfolds and try to identify various snacks. The demonstration a play on "tunnel vision" is used by the company's operations management division to illustrate how a lack of visibility to relevant information in the right context can lead to illinformed conclusions.

Drilling rules

Bureau Veritas majored on the recent extension of its classification rules to include drilling equipment essential for the safety of offshore drilling operations. Now covered are well control equipment including blowout preventers, marine risers, tensioning systems, heave-compensation systems, drawworks, mud circulating systems, cementing equipment, drilling derricks and supporting structures.

"The Deepwater Horizon incident has shown the offshore industry that dividing responsibility for the safety assessment of offshore vessels from that of the equipment they use is not the best way to drill safely offshore.

"A holistic approach which assesses the drilling equipment and well control equipment along with the floating unit they are deployed from will deliver safer offshore drilling,' explained Dan Frorup, vice president of the company's offshore deepsea global business unit.

The new NI 569 set of rules covers the classification of new-generation drillships and includes an update to the IMO MODU Code due to come into force in 2012. OE

Bi-directional barrier

The new Fortess isolation valve launched by Schlumberger simplifies the transition from upper completion to production without intervention.

"The new valve serves as a bidirectional barrier valve that exceeds ISO 28781 standards to the point of providing a bubble-tight barrier,' said Mike Garding, president of Schlumberger Completions.

"This barrier enables increased safety, especially in applications such as deepwater where high differential pressure is required. The reduction or elimination of interventions translates to reduced costs and rig time saved while productivity is increased through the prevention of formation damage, and minimizing fluid loss.'

Designed for deepwater and environments where debris accumulates and actuation requires more force, the Fortress valve was used by a South American operator for installation in a horizontal openhole gravel pack completion in 5148ft of water. After 30 days of suspension time the valve was successfully remote-actuated from surface.

According to Schlumberger, the Fortress ball has no gaps or passageways that would allow solids to accumulate in critical spaces and prevent the ball from rotating. Friction is reduced and the ball is allowed to open under higher differential pressures through the use of simplified cages, a simplified arm and wiper rings.

Span monitoring

A new pipeline and cable span monitoring kit attracted some admiring glances on the stand of international subsea engineering firm Jee.

"Many delegates were intrigued by it," said managing director Trevor Jee. "With this neat piece of gear, we were able to show how you can get a better understanding of subsea cables by monitoring their movement over a few weeks or months. With the help of some data analysis and finite element modelling, the results are used to assess cable or pipeline fatigue so that clients can plan ahead accordingly."

Jet pump simulator

A jet pump simulator demonstrated at Offshore Europe by Norway's PTC enables petroleum engineers and well designers to predict the performance of oil production wells under jet pump lift, including the impacts of variables such as power fluid pressure, volume and density. The free software, tubing size and the jet pump setting depth and its throat and nozzle sizes can also be optimised for any given application.

PTC also unveiled the world's first Perspex jet pump, as part of a demonstrator rig designed to give an insight into the tools. The full-scale, fully-functional jet pump was put through its paces at the Aberdeen Offshore Technology Park during the show.

"Jet pumps have tended to be overlooked by engineers looking to select an artificial lift method because there was no readily available and easy-to-use tool to model their effectiveness,' said Tom Norland, UK managing director for PTC. "This seems crazy to us, because jet pumps can be installed and retrieved using inexpensive wireline intervention techniques and, with no moving parts downhole, they are regarded as the most reliable of all artificial lift methods. In many applications they are actually the most cost effective lift method available." Norland added that jet pumps had erroneously been thought applicable only in low rate wells. However, the opposite was true, he noted, citing one subsea well in particular that has been producing under jet pump lift to an FPSO at a rate of approximately 20,000b/d for more than five years, with no interventions and minimal downtime.

Wireless cement head
A fully-automated wireless cement head demonstrated at the Aberdeen show was hailed as a world first by its provider Gulfstream Services International. The cement head is said to increase operator safety by removing the need to use a harness to work up the derrick.

Bryan Duplantis, Gulfstream UK regional manager, said the Torque Through Swivel & Ball/Dart Pumping Head cement head was manufactured with safety and reliability being the most important aspects of the design process. "This is the only cement head of its kind to fully eliminate the need for workers to ever have to carry out the potentially hazardous task of manriding. Using this wireless cement head means workers do not have to get into a harness to work up a derrick, which in turn also removes the risk of dropped objects."

He added: "Our wireless system not only remotely actuates the rotating balls in the head but it also provides well control in the form of operating Kelly Valves and other functions. It operates the low torque attached to the swivel or side entry pump and it is these capabilities that truly set us apart from others."

Riserless intervention

The Aberdeen show marked Expro's commercial launch of its AX-S riserless subsea intervention system for deepwater wells. The company said award of its first commercial contract was imminent and it was already working on the first two candidate North Sea wells.

At the request of BP, Chevron and Shell, the Wood Group has spent some $200 million over the last eight years developing the fly-by-wire intervention system, decoupling the equipment from the vessel.

The technology is designed to extend the operating envelope for subsea intervention to 10,000ft.

Expro has the Havila Phoenix on a three-year, plus options, charter from mid-December 2010 to deploy the system. A test of the handling system in a deepwater trench West of Shetland will be followed by a six-week test of the complete system on a Statoil test well in the Norwegian sector. Potential clients will be invited to view the equipment from November.

FPSO anchor and riser monitoring

Tritech's new 360° riser and anchor monitoring system, Rams, was developed to provide automated integrity monitoring of mooring lines, bend stiffeners, umbilicals and risers on FPSOs and has been put through its paces on Teekay's FPSO Petrojarl Foinaven since 2009, operating for BP West of Shetland.

Rams, which builds on the proprietary multibeam sonar technology developed by SRD prior to its acquisition by Tritech, is reported to have been "100% effective" during extensive testing on the Foinaven oil field.

The system is deployed beneath an FPSO's turret in the centre of the risers and mooring chains and through its multibeam sonar array provides simultaneous, real-time updates on the status of all lines, with continuous recording and data export. It offers the end user the option of immediate alarm-based notification of any out-ofspecification movement, in addition to trend data that allows for more accurate (material) fatigue analysis.

A BP spokesperson commented: "We are confident of the system and its ability to monitor the integrity of risers and umbilicals and its capability for data export in order to analyse riser/ bend stiffener movement which is very important, not only to maintain the asset but to identify the need for corrective action." Tritech is now working with partners NCS Survey, who will install, commission and provide after-sales support for Rams having acquired the service business line of SRD in January 2010.

Improving severe service performance

Tungsten carbide wear parts manufacturer Total Carbide unveiled its new process for producing tungsten carbide components with complex internal forms for use in harsh environments such as valves operating in high-pressure, highly abrasive or corrosive environments.

Intraform will enable the production of forms in tungsten carbide that cannot be produced by any other standard production method, said the company. "The process allows the creation of complex internal wear critical forms as required in linear and rotary valves, which can last up to ten times longer than equivalent steel parts. The tungsten carbide components are manufactured as one piece eliminating the potential of leaks, therefore allowing higher pressure liquid flow rates."

According to Total Carbide, the process has been independently tested by leading global valve manufacturers to industry standards including a 25,000 cycle qualification test at 760bar satisfying leakage testing according to API6A/ISO10423. Products have also been proof tested at 1140bar as part of FAT (Factory Accreditation Testing) without showing signs of failure, and have successfully undergone a 90-day corrosion test.

These trials have proven Intraform to be acceptable for harsh subsea environments, said sales director Andy Hunt. "The manufacture of a one-piece tungsten carbide component with complex, highperformance internal chambers has been a challenge for the flow control industry for many years. The Intraform process allows us to create components with difficult internal geometries that have the durability and wear-resistance of tungsten carbide and the ability to process abrasive and corrosive fluids," he added. "This capability will open up significant new possibilities, giving engineers unprecedented flexibility for the design of flow control components manufacture."

The cutting edge

Smith Bits announced the availability of its latest premium polycrystalline diamond compact (PDC) cutter, claimed capable of retaining an edge sharp enough to drill in the harshest formations more efficiently.

"The Onyx II PDC cutter is driven by field performance and the result of an extensive collaboration between our engineering, manufacturing and research and development groups," said Guy Arrington, president, bits & advanced technologies at Schlumberger. "A comprehensive analysis of dull cutter conditions combined with new drilling objectives from our clients drove our development team to push the boundaries of advanced materials science and synthetic diamond manufacturing."

The new cutter is synthesized using a proprietary two-step process said to give it superior abrasive wear and exceptional resistance to thermal degradation when compared to earlier PDC technology. The cutter is designed to resist the spalling and chipping that shortens the life of other hard formation drill bits. A controlled laboratory comparison conducted on granite showed a 20% reduction in wear flat area with minimal chipping and degradation, as measured against the earlier Onyx PDC cutters.

Raptor range ready

Paradigm Oilfield Services launched three new tools under the Raptor brand in response to industry demand for drilling equipment that delivers improved rate of penetration (ROP) in high angle and horizontal wells. Offshore Europe provided the first chance to see the new patented Raptor Reamer in action, with live demonstrations being given on the stand.

The Raptor Reamer operates on the industry standard "drop-ball' to activate method. The fully supported cam-arm expansion method and fail safe closure mechanism are said to ensure reliable performance, with the ability to ream and back-ream giving maximum operational flexibility.

Paradigm also showcased the Raptor Tractor, which reduces torque as well as the potential for stick and slip whilst drilling. With up to 500 hours planned life between services, the collar also provides 20% of its own weight in forward thrust to help ensure consistent weight on bit and improved ROP.

The Raptor Roller offers total security thanks to a latch/lock roller retention mechanism, says Paradigm. A combination of the pressure-balanced grease lubrication system for maximum reliability and optimised fluid by-pass give improved performance in a range of hole conditions. The new Raptor Roller Tractor is based on a similar core design and gives the drill pipe transport and traction in high angle and horizontal drilling operations. The rolling elements further minimise formation stress.

Densitometer calibration

NEL launched the UK's first densitometer calibration facility to comply with the Department of Energy & Climate Change's interim policy guidance for oil industry fiscal applications in the UKCS. DECC's new requirements follow an NEL-initiated JIP which identified major shortcomings in the calibration of liquid densitometers, leaving North Sea operators vulnerable to potential disputes over measurements and financial exposure.

The most significant change to DECC guidance is that densitometers should now be calibrated at their anticipated operating conditions, i.e. simultaneously at temperature and pressure, using one or more transfer fluids.

The new NEL facility is capable of calibration across a temperature range from 10-110°C, at pressures from 1-100bar. The facility can control the temperature of the densitometer under calibration to within 0.01°C, while controlling the pressure of the fluid within 0.02bar.

Vacuum debris removal

M-I Swaco announced the release of its Well Scavenger vacuum debris removal tool, designed specifically to capture and remove debris from the wellbore during intervention activities.

Based on a modular design, the Well Scavenger comprises a single-nozzle fluid-driving engine, a debris screening module, and one or more debris chambers. The engine module internally generates and maintains an efficient localized reverse circulation flow that achieves maximum lifting velocities without the need for high pump rates from the surface. The debris screening module filters the fluid to capture larger debris and is equipped with an internal magnet assembly to collect ferrous material.

The tool's optimum environment is with Newtonian fluids that have limited solids carrying capacity or when open perforations, pressure-sensitive downhole hardware or limitations from surface equipment make it impossible to use high pump rates and pressures.

When an Adriatic Sea operator needed to reperforate, gravel pack and return a well to production, before packer plugs could be retrieved, M-I Swaco recommended that its new tool be run to recover intentionally spotted ceramic gravel pack sand and gun debris. In four runs of the tool, a total 180lbs (82kg) of debris, comprised of ceramic proppant, gun debris and shear screws from the packer plug, was recovered. All debris was collected with less than one hour of circulating time on each trip.

With two debris chambers, the tool picked up sand and perforation debris efficiently, allowing the subsequent retrieval of the zonal isolation plugs to be initiated incident free, reports M-I Swaco, adding: "The Well Scavenger tool will enable clean out and retrieval to be completed in one trip by placing the packer plug retrieval tool in the bottom hole assembly."

Compressor boost

Sweden's Atlas Copco introduced its new Hurricane B18-62/2250 Rig-Safe compressor booster for the oil & gas industry. This version of the booster provides 2185cfm at 2250psi in two-stage mode, with a 350psi suction pressure. The Rig-Safe Hurricane B18-62/2250, with A-rated CAT engine, is built into a specially adapted DNV 2.7-1 certified 20ft ISO container equipped for offshore requirements and designed for rough conditions and extreme temperatures.

As a Rig-Safe booster, the B18-62/2250 features an inlet shutdown valve and spark arrestor, along with an optional air starter. It has flameresistant anti-static fan belts, a battery-box and battery isolator switch, and visible and audible alarms. It is also equipped with two emergency stops situated on the exterior of the container, and a connection for an external shut-off signal, platform shut-down or yellow alert. Other safety features include over-speed protection, an external fuel cut-off valve, and stainless steel braided fuel lines.

Atlas Copco also introduced its new Hurricane model B7-41/1000 booster, driven by a Caterpillar C7 diesel engine and featuring a four-cylinder, single stage, reciprocating booster. Though smaller and lighter than competitive units of the same class, the B7-41 has a capacity of 2440cfm at a maximum discharge of 1000psi.

Global e-procurement service

Craig International Supplies (CIS) launched e-buy a bespoke electronic procurement service. With an online catalogue including over 50,000 products, ebuy aims to provide clients with a personalised ordering service available anywhere in the world.

CIS, the oilfield procurement division of the Craig Group with bases in Aberdeen, Cape Town and Houston, is confident its new service will help clients dramatically reduce paperwork and administration as well as cutting down on delivery times. Following a trial period where the technology was tested and analysed for user-friendliness and accessibility, the web-based tool is now live and available to the company's global client base.

CIS director Jill MacDonald said: "The launch of e-buy supports the continued drive by CIS to move away from traditional methods of third party source and supply techniques and to embrace modern technological advances in line with today's trends in business and industry.

"E-procurement is coming into its own as business and industry look for quicker, more flexible ordering systems that are easy to manage, available 24 hours a day and provide a flexibility that can prove critical when organisations are working to quick turnarounds and tight deadlines."

Casing drilling bit
Downhole Products launched a new-concept casing drilling bit at Offshore Europe. A joint development with US parent company Varel, the CaseBit is designed to address the advanced cutting tool needs of Drilling with Casing (DWC) operations and incorporates patent-pending features designed to ensure effective drilling and smooth drill-out for the following string.

It combines key PDC drill bit technologies including force balancing, spiral and asymmetric blades, cutting structure wear modeling and computational fluid analysis with highly flexible manufacturing and casting technology. The result is said to be an optimised, custom casing bit capable of drilling performance exceeding competitive bits.

"We believe we have created a decisive solution for DWC operations. The pure crystalline tungsten of the CaseBit body yields improved erosion resistance when compared to aluminum products currently in the marketplace," explained Mike Thigpen, Varel International's director of PDC technology.

"For continued deepening of the well, the CaseBit solution is also designed to be readily drilled through by a smaller diameter PDC bit once the casing has been set and cemented in place. The Machineable Matrix body construction allows for greatly enhanced design flexibility, speedy manufacturing response and unsurpassed drillability. In addition, patents pending external and internal body configuration accelerates drill out and improves the breakup of the bit face during post cementing drill out by the following string."

ATEX zone 1 cabins for hire

HB Rentals introduced "the next generation" of well service cabins "ATEX zone 1 pressurised A60 rental cabins" at Offshore Europe.

Since the ATEX European directive was introduced in 2003, HB says no new zone 1-rated modules have been available for rental on the UKCS. Now the company is planning to build a fleet of 50 such units, designed to BSEN 50381, at a cost of approximately £8 million for well services use, including measurement while drilling and mud logging.

Designed for all climates, the 16ft x 20ft x 8ft modules will be available from HB Rentals' bases in Aberdeen, Rotterdam, Dubai, Stavanger, Singapore and Australia. They will be introduced globally throughout 2011 and 2012.

Apollo launch

GE Oil & Gas launched the Apollo Intelligent Control System, the company's first combined hardware and software package to standardise control interfaces across artificial lift applications. Applicable to GE Oil & Gas low voltage Vector VII and legacy drives, switchboards, soft starts and surface pumping systems, this single-interfacesystem provides continuity across previously diverse operating platforms.

"Apollo's standardisation across product lines makes it a clear leader among other intelligent control solutions," said Gary Ford, president and CEO of GE Oil & Gas' artificial lift segment. "Operators now only need to learn one user-friendly system that will enhance expertise, save time, increase motor and pump protection and reduce errors."

More than 200 Apollo Intelligent Control Systems have been sold to date, including field-tested units. Current GE customers using drives or switchboards previously manufactured by Wood Group ESP will be offered the opportunity to convert to Apollo Intelligent Control software using retrofit kits, an upgrade expected to provide additional functionality and flexibility to earlier machine control systems.

Downhole flow sensor

Emerson Process Management launched its new downhole flow sensor system designed to generate multiphase flow measurements from downhole in the well and improve operator understanding of reservoir flow and zonal contributions from individual wells.

The growing complexity of well architecture, with an increase in multilateral and multi-zone wells, has led to operators having to settle on total production flow data rather than flow from specific well zones, said Emerson's Terje Baustad (see Gathering greater intelligence downhole). "That's why the Roxar Downhole Flow Sensor System represents such a stepchange in reservoir monitoring and flow assurance.

"We have taken multiphase measurement downhole to provide full multiphase measurements, including fluid fractions and flow rates, from either single bore or multilateral well configurations and to help operators increase field recovery."

System features include a new water cut measurement tool based on dual velocity measurements and a density sensor, measuring the density of the fluid using gamma rays; the ability to operate at pressures and temperatures of up to 10,000psi and 150°C; the 3.5in tool and 1/4in cable is compact and easy to install, fitting in both short zones between packers and 7in liner/casing; a single conductor for all well sensors including the downhole gauges; measurements are performed in the tubing through non-intrusive sensors, and the system is modular with users able to pick the tool combination which best suits their needs.

Quick release couplings

Italian company Stucchi majored on its line of quick release coupling for fluid transmission at Offshore Europe. The company handles planning, production and distribution of the quick release couplings in a variety of sizes and port configurations. Sizes range from 1/8in to 2in with pressure ratings to 720bar. Port configurations include BSP, NPT, SAE & metric standard in stock, materials from Brass to 316 Stainless Steel, and an assortment of seal options.

The company said its offering also includes the AX series for applications needing higher working pressures and longer life and the VEP HD series, a solution to issues associated with couplers used in extreme applications.

Stainless steel pilot valves

A new series of stainless steel pilot valves was introduced by Asco Numatics with offshore application in mind. The 8361 series has been designed to eliminate the dormancy or "sticking' problems that can occur in control valves installed in the pneumatic logic panels that control monitoring safety systems in offshore oil and gas production facilities.

"Corrosion-resistance and reliability are essential for safe operation in harsh offshore environments," says Asco Numatics executive vice president Robert W Kemple Jr. "The 8361 series' innovative, highly reliable and proven T-seal technology resists the dormancy issues that plague current valves using O-ring seals. O-ring designs can stick upon actuation in low-cycle demand control valve applications. Our research shows that many users routinely hammer the sides of these valves to ensure they function properly."

The 8361 series (1/4in NPT, three-way, 316L stainless steel) valves are offered in manually operated, air-piloted and solenoid-piloted versions, and can be configured as breathing and nonbreathing.

Management solution

Completions and sand management specialist Darcy Technologies brought its Critical Matrix Management solution to Offshore Europe for the first time. Interventionless, it is said to reduce deck time, deck teams and, therefore, cost. The Darcy system is run in the well, landed at depth, set and activated by surface provided pressure to provide compliance in one run.

Getting in the groove

A variation on the theme of fully automated machine technology was launched by Welding Alloys at Offshore Europe with its MutliSurfacer XT orbital welder, which features the company's new D3 touch screen control technology as standard.

Developed through Welding Alloys' continuous product development programme and benefiting from its extensive experience with cladding/ hardfacing technology in global oil & gas applications, the new orbital welder can clad internal bores, pipes, rings and grooves from 80mm to 400mm in diameter.

The company says custom-built MultiSurfacer machines are capable of welding even larger bores, up to 800mm.

Centum in control

The latest version of Centum VP control system has been released to the market by Yokogawa Electric.

With digital technology advances bringing huge increases in the volume and variety of field data, Centum VP Release 5 features a new field control station (FCS) with four times the processing performance, twice the application storage capacity, and five times the control network throughput of Yokogawa's previous FCS.

The release also includes a unified gateway station (UGS) that improves integration with other systems, allowing Centum VP to control and monitor all the systems at plants, including PLC systems.

In oil and gas fields and other applications where facilities may be scattered over a very wide area, Yokogawa says the UGS makes possible the integrated control and monitoring of an entire system comprised of both central large-scale facilities and remote facilities via the Centum VP human machine interface. OE

Handling the pressure
Well intervention specialist Interwell unveiled an ultra-slim, 2.2in OD, high pressure retrievable bridge plug, hailing it as the world's first capable of withstanding a differential pressure of 15,000psi. The ISO14310 qualified tool, which can be run on slickline, e-line, coiled tubing or pipe, contains an innovative packer back-up design which both compresses and constrains the element, reducing the risk of extrusion in extreme conditions.

The ultra-slim design of the patented element back-up segments of the HP plug is said to reduce the risk of deployment and retrieval through narrow wellbore restrictions, a key operational benefit in HP/HT wells. Efficiency is further enhanced by each plug taking just one run to set and one to retrieve, providing a reliable and cost effective solution for well interventions, explained Interwell's UK managing director Andrew Louden. "We have established a new standard with this tool as we are the only company in the industry to develop a plug which can withstand such high pressures and is fully retrievable after use.'

Jim Laidlaw, business development director at Interwell Aberdeen, added: "With a range of plug sizes for 31/2in to 75/8in casings, the ultra slim HP/HT plug design makes it an ideal barrier solution for wellbores with any form of restriction, allowing it to be deployed reliably to the desired depth.'


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