Scandinavia Offshore Roundup - OE August 2010

August 9, 2010

Making more sense of pipe handling
Norway's TTS Sense has developed an advanced pipe handling machine named SmartRacker, following the award to the company of a contract to supply an entire drilling package to two advanced newbuild jackups. The company built a 50m test tower in Kristiansand to facilitate four months of full-scale testing before delivery.

The requirements for the 45m-high machine were that it operate as a robot with high speed and absolute precision, handling tubulars up to 135ft (41m), weighing up to 15t, in dimensions from 2 7/8in to 13 5/8in. It also had to be very compact in order to maximize the setback area – or vertical tubular storage area on the drill floor – and move around in the desired operating area.

TTS Sense chose to base the SmartRacker main movements – sideways, rotation, up/down – on AC technology, focusing much attention on the user interface. The screen picture was often designed in parallel with mechanical design and operational features. The operator controls the velocity of the operation with a joystick, with the individual arms, column and trolleys working in unison.

A new design of gripper was developed to lift and securely hold tubulars with an OD between 88mm and 346mm, with TTS Sense now claiming to be only supplier in the market whose gripper head does not need changing for different tubulars.

Dummy valves get smarter
Petroleum Technology Company (PTC), established in Norway in 2002, has come up with a replacement for the traditional dumb iron dummy valve – the ‘intelligent dummy'.

The outcome of a direct request from Statoil to PTC founding director Tom Norland, the intelligent dummy addresses the requirement to pull and replace dummy valves from new wells when they are being prepared for production, which typically incurs 24 hours rig time, costing up to £1 million every time a new well is drilled or an existing well recompleted.

With the intelligent dummy in place, a new well can be fully pressure tested before the intelligent dummy is opened remotely, allowing kill fluid in the well to be circulated out and replaced with a kick off fluid, before being permanently closed-off remotely. All the valve manipulations occur in response to pressurisation of the fluids in the well at surface, without any need for either expensive well interventions, temperamental electronics or complex hydraulic control systems, explains Norland.

‘We were asked to develop a dummy which would shear-open at a certain pressure in the well annulus, then close again when pressure is held on both the tubing and annulus,' adds Norland. ‘We called our evolution of the component the "intelligent dummy" as a nod to its static predecessor, and following testing it has proven that it is capable of answering the design question we were asked.'

PTC, with offices in Stavanger, Houston and Aberdeen, also makes well barrier accredited chemical injection systems and hydraulic jet pump systems. Led by Norland, the PTC team includes other familiar names in the well technology arena, among them former Helix RDS founders Alan Brodie and Joe Allan, Ian Taggart who spent 30 years with Shell, and Jim Hardie, who owned Peco.

Satcom strength in numbers
Norwegian maritime communications provider Ship Equip recently passed a company milestone with the 1000th order for its SEVSAT (Sea Equip VSAT) system. Alesund-based Ship Equip said the order – part of a contract to supply VSAT services for a fleet of 67 vessels – helped cement its status as the fastest-growing company of its kind. Over 800 SEVSAT systems have been installed, and the company is working a backlog of more than 200 units.

The company also this year launched MySEVSAT, a free, customized online portal that offers customers secure access to a range of tools and services, including vessel tracking with GoogleEarth technology.

Established in 1992, Ship Equip initially targeted the Norwegian fishing market, but soon expanded to include energy. ‘Oil and gas became the big market, and the main driver for how we modeled our company,' says Americas sales manager David Quarders. Oilfield service providers had a different set of requirements: for one thing, ‘these vessels don't stay put,' Quarders says.

‘Especially in the oil & gas market – they'll have a contract in the North Sea today, but next year that same vessel might be working in Africa or the Philippines.'

Ship Equip met the challenge by adopting Ku-band technology, giving clients continuous global coverage, and by extending the company's infrastructure with regional offices in Houston and Singapore, along with a growing number of satellite offices staffed with a workforce of more than 120.

The company tries to distinguish itself in a crowded industry by operating its own network, offering flexible plans that allow customers to adjust bandwidth capacity as needed, and by concentrating exclusively on the offshore market. ‘What separates us is that each of those 120 people is only doing maritime communications,' Quarders notes.

Aberdeen support strengthened
Bergen-headquartered ClampOn reports it has signed four new support contracts for UK offshore fields in recent months, giving the company the opportunity to assign a fulltime support engineer to its Aberdeen customers.

Having offered a monitoring service for four years, the ClampOn sand monitoring and support group now has real-time access to the data from 10% of all the company's sand detectors in operation, a service ClampOn says has proved efficient and gone down well with clients.

To be able to offer efficient support to even more fields, the company has developed hosted monitoring. Rather than allowing remote access to the oil & gas installation, the sensor raw data is streamed to servers and software hosted and maintained by ClampOn. Users can then log on to view the trends, or subscribe to alarms and reports generated.

‘Hosted monitoring reduces the need for onsite service, maintenance and training, and ensures that everyone has access to high quality data,' says ClampOn.

The company adds that: ‘With the new web-based platform for support, all information related to sand monitoring can be found in one place. All reports, technical documentation, real-time data and even a "room" for having discussions with the assigned support engineer are available.'

New marine acoustic foil
Rockwool Marine & Offshore has introduced a new product specifically to improve sound absorption in engine rooms, cargo pump rooms and similar applications.

Traditional insulation solutions which consist of an alu-foil or steel plate finish provide a good solution for fire protection and oil contamination prevention but these surface materials reduce the otherwise excellent noise absorption properties of the insulation behind them, says Rockwool.

By using the newly launched Rockwool Marine Acoustic Foil, the company says the noise absorption of its insulation is not affected.

The SOLAS-compliant foil is a very strong, thin and durable film, claimed to be resistant to oil/oil mist, water and most other substances expected to be found in the engine room environment. The film (which covers the Rockwool insulation and is then covered by a perforated steel plate) has been tested for surface flammability, according to IMO Res MSC.61(67), annex 1 part 5 and IMO res 653(16), by the Danish Institute of Fire Technology.

To obtain the optimal sound properties the film must be fitted loosely with a small gap in between the film and the insulation.

Drilling beyond boundaries
Originating from coiled tubing drilling R&D performed by company founder Dr Ola M Vestavik, the Reelwell Drilling Method challenges some of the basic principles of conventional drilling.

Featuring at the ONS show this month, the Reelwell Drilling Method enables drilling of well sections with challenging pressure conditions and drilling to targets beyond conventional reach, facilitating access to a substantially increased drainage area due to its extended reach capabilities. The built-in pressure and flow control system is said to reduce formation damage, increasing well productivity, as well reducing non productive time through improved hole cleaning and reduced circulation time.

Patented Reelwell Drilling Method technology is based on reverse circulation through a dual drill string, where mud is pumped down the drillpipe annulus with cuttings returned to surface through an inner string.

With its ability to deliver accurate pressure management and improved well control, is especially targeting managed pressure drilling and underbalanced drilling operations. Reelwell Drilling Method delivers weight on bit independent of string weight, with a lower incremental and total pressure drop at the end of long horizontal sections pushing present limitations in extended reach drilling.

Subsea barrier fluid
Norwegian pump specialist Framo Engineering has approved Castrol Brayco Micronic SBF (subsea barrier fluid) for use in its subsea multiphase booster pumps and the first full-field trial is under way with Statoil on the Gullfaks B platform.

Tightening offshore environmental legislation means that conventional oils are now being phased out for sensitive subsea applications in areas such as the North Sea.

Oyvind Berg, Castrol Norway account manager, says: ‘Working closely with Framo, Castrol Offshore has developed the only fully OSPAR-compliant oil with electrical insulation and seawater stability. Castrol Brayco Micronic SBF is used to cool the high-speed motor unit (400kW), and lubricate the mechanical seals of the multiphase booster pumps.'

Victor delivers
Danish engineering, procurement, construction and management services provider Victor recently concluded prestigious EPCM contracts with Maersk Drilling and National Oilwell Varco.

For one of Maersk Drilling's rigs, the company upgraded a high pressure mud system from 5000psi to 7500psi. The job included 3D measurements, engineering calculations and drawing, design approval, spool prefabrication, onsite installation and commissioning.

National Oilwell contracted with Victor for the manufacture of 16 dry bulk tanks. The job involved manufacturing the tanks in accordance with customer requirements, purchasing materials, sandblasting and painting, NDT, pressure test and preparation for shipment.

Design your own lifejacket
On show at ONS in Stavanger this month will be the latest product from Denmark's Viking Life-Saving Equipment – designyour- own inflatable SOLAS lifejackets. Customers can tailor their own solutions for specific working conditions such as those encountered in maritime environments as well as offshore wind power, offshore welding and industrial conditions.

The company offers a variety of options including a choice of 180 Newton or 275 Newton buoyancy for those carrying extra weight, eg tool belts.

There is a choice of three different closure (buckle) types, including an optional integrated harness for offshore wind industry workers, as well as cover materials ranging from durable Cordura, wipe clean covers and even aluminium covers for welders or fire situations. Whatever combination is selected will fulfill the existing and future SOLAS requirements described in MSC-200(81), says Viking.

The company will also have on display at ONS its full range of ETSO approved helicopter transportation suits and pilot suits.

Cost-efficient compressors
Tamrotor Marine Compressors (TMC) is exhibiting its TMC Smart Air Compressor at ONS. The compressor controls the capacity and power consumption precisely to the air demand, says TMC. Constant pressure in the network at all times will minimize the power consumption and reduce the wear on the compressor. Soft start will increase the lifetime on the transmission such as belts and couplings and give lower pressure and less movement on all parts, all of this said to contribute to a 25-30% reduction in life cycle cost.

Compared with a conventional compressor providing the same amount of compressed air, the energy consumption of a TMC SA 60 will be reduced by 161,000kWh during one year, says TMC. With an estimated energy cost of $0.20, this means an annual saving of $32,200 and a reduction in CO2 emissions of 103,040kg – per compressor.

Uptime initiative
Aluminium helideck specialist Marine Aluminium and motion compensation specialist TTS Energy have formed the Uptime Alliance, a technology and marketing collaboration looking to contribute to the increased efficiency and safety of offshore vessels and marine installations.

Through innovative systems like Uptime Helideck and the Uptime Gangway, the alliance wants to boost North Sea uptime and prevent the suspension of offshore activities that only a small degree of motion can result in.

Hailed as the world's only motioncompensated helideck, Uptime Helideck uses real-time control technology to keep the helideck steady relative to the helicopter.

To date the patented system, compatible with all types of helidecks, has been delivered to Petroleum Geo-Services' advanced seismic vessels Ramform Sovereign and Ramform Explorer.

Uptime Gangway is an active motion compensated telescopic gangway in aluminium, especially designed to facilitate access between vessels and fixed installations, such as offshore oil & gas platforms and wind farms.

Hearing aid
Statoil has partnered with research organization Sintef and intelligent hearing protection technology specialist Nacre to create what is being hailed in advance as ‘the next generation of intelligent hearing protection and communication technologies for use in the offshore oil & gas industry'.

The partners are looking to develop new intelligent hearing protection technologies to eradicate noise-induced hearing loss among offshore workers and to establish new methods and solutions to facilitate reliable spoken communication and situational awareness in highnoise work environments. Sintef and Nacre have worked together before on the development of the Quietpro intelligent hearing system, now deployed operationally with the US, NATO and Scandinavian armed forces. OE

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