Products in review / April 2010 OE

April 5, 2010

Rotary steerable success

Baker Hughes deployed its AutoTrak rotary steerable system to successfully drill four directional wells in the Gulf of Mexico’s South Timbalier area, including one well that reached total depth nearly five days ahead of schedule.

The company used AutoTrak combined with a PDC bit to drill the entire 8 1/2in section on the ahead-ofschedule well in a single run.

Baker Hughes said the AutoTrak technology allows directional settings to be adjusted in real time, saving costly trip-out time.

The other three wells were drilled with steel tooth bits and downhole motors and required two runs each for the same section. Baker Hughes provided pre-drilling pressure modeling based on offset wells. The unidentified operator used the results to optimize the casing design and mud weight required to drill the wells. Baker Hughes said the wells reached total depths ranging from 9000ft to 13,000ft with a 3° maximum dogleg severity of mostly gumbo-type shales and clay.

The company also provided drilling fluids from its Fourchon, Louisiana, liquid mud plant. A work boat also served as a floating reserve tank for the small drilling rig; despite space and logistical limitations.

Baker Hughes said: ‘There were no major problems related to shale stability or gumbo attacks.’

SAS in pipe span checks

Surveying and mapping company C&C Technologies recently completed a second contract for an undisclosed major oil company using synthetic aperture sonar (SAS) technology to assess the integrity of pipelines in the Gulf of Mexico. The two projects used the Prosas Surveyor SAS sonar developed by Applied Signal Technology.

C&C used the technology to inspect and evaluate pipeline spans on the seafloor resulting from marine traffic, tidal scour and storm impact, and to determine whether repairs were necessary. The 136ft utility support vessel Andrew Charles was used to conduct the survey over the course of 48 hours.

The survey acquired sonar data with 1in2 resolution at 150m range per side.

According to C&C, the system produced ‘high definition, photographicquality, real-time acoustic imagery across the entire transmission range precluding the typical necessity to run many perpendicular survey lines’.

The Prosas technology produced results faster and at lower cost, while the level of detail allowed geologists to interpret the images quickly, C&C said.

The images also helped the client pinpoint sites that needed repair, mitigating dive operation costs.

‘Touchy feely’ ROV pilot training

The next-generation ROV pilot training simulator recently launched by Fugro General Robotics (FGRL) is also claimed capable of speeding up the evaluation of subsea engineering designs and reducing reliance on expensive prototypes. Designated DeepTouch, the system brings fully forcemodelled physics simulation to subsea and ROV simulators so that any object in the world model both feels and behaves like the real thing.


For the first time, says FGRL, DeepTouch brings ‘touch and feel’ interactive simulation tools that give the simulator pilot the same graduated tactile response as if he were actually using a tool, like a manipulator, to move or adjust a subsea component in the field.

Customisation is straightforward and programming skills are not required. DeepTouch allows an engineer to drag and drop objects from the extensive libraries to build subsea worlds containing items such as vessels, pipes, cables and ROVs. It can also show electrical and hydraulic circuits in complex subsea machinery, modelling down to great detail within the ROV itself, which makes it quick and easy to change, or even create a new vehicle design, said FGRL.

‘DeepTouch heralds a new era in subsea simulation,’ declared FGRL managing director Dr Jason Tisdall. ‘Models can be as detailed as the hydraulic or electric circuits comprising the subassemblies of an ROV or other tool system. At the same time this can interconnect with cables, tethers, vessels and other real world items all of which can be controlled, driven, and winched in realistic fashion. The resulting information is truly 3D and allows immersive documentation, live data recording, training and marketing material all to be built on real physics-based outcomes.’

Like its predecessor, the ROVolution simulator, DeepTouch uses cost-effective PC hardware running Windows XP and existing ROVolution simulators can be upgraded to DeepTouch specification.

Fluid turbulence minimised

Westfall Manufacturing is introducing a new, patent pending, flow conditioner that resolves fluid turbulence to achieve a fully developed velocity profile with minimal head loss.


The Westfall Model 3000 flow conditioner mounts directly into a piping system and features four leading tabs and four anti-swirl plates to produce a fully developed velocity profile within eight diameters downstream. The compact flow conditioner is suited to any fluid, providing increasing flow measurement accuracy, especially when using ultrasonic flowmeters, said Westfall.

Minimising turbulence regardless of flow conditions or mal-distribution upstream, the Model 3000 is available in sizes from 1/2in to 120in in diameter.

Requiring virtually no maintenance, it can be fabricated from PVC, FRP (fibreglass reinforced plastic), 316 SS, with or without Teflon coating, and other engineering materials.

Real-time sonar imaging

The Gemini 720i real-time 120° horizontal coverage multi-beam imaging sonar, used in such subsea applications as navigation, search, salvage, monitoring and inspection, is reported to be finding strong industry support with sales reportedly exceeding expectations since its launch last year by Tritech International.

The device offers a compact high frequency imaging solution, suitable for very small ROV and AUV, with a sonar head weighing just over 1kg in water. The 720kHz operating frequency, processing electronics and an integrated sound velocity sensor produce high clarity images in real-time.

Gemini 720i may be interfaced via ethernet or, for vehicles without fibre optics, through an integrated VDSL (very high rate digital subscriber line) connection.

At the surface, data can be displayed using Tritech’s Seanet Pro or Gemini’s standalone software.

Tritech is continuing the development of multi-beam technology and plans to expand its product portfolio this year with the launch of a deeper rated Gemini and a multi-beam profiler.

Rigless ESP shuttles

Houston-based ZEiTECS has released its Shuttle 550 series, a new generation of rigless ESP (electric submersible pump) solutions that allows operators to deploy and retrieve up to a 456 series ESP through 5 1/2in tubing within 7in casing. The Shuttle 700 series permits deployment of up to 562 series ESP through 7in tubing within 9 5/8in casing.

The shuttle series use wireline technology that affords rigless retrieval and redeployment of conventional ESP systems, obviating the need for a hoist or rig, reducing costs while avoiding the HSE hazards associated with ESP workover operations. Shuttle 550 and 700 series utilise ZEiTECS’ proprietary downhole wet-mateable connector system, permitting the pump, seal and motor of the ESP to be fully serviced through the tubing.

Since the technology’s launch in 3Q 2009, 700 series Shuttle installations have included Oman and Brunei, with further commitments in these two countries scheduled this year.

Pump up the pressure

The new line of hydraulic driven pumps from Italy’s Neron Subsea can be deployed subsea and are capable of reaching very high pressure. The company believes the Neron washers are unique in that they are small enough to fit in any mobile unit yet are capable of 20kg at 900bar.

The washer can be installed on all work-class ROV systems and is supplied directly from the ROV hydraulics. Designed with harsh environment operation, long life and easy maintenance in mind, it can also be directly supplied from a surface power pack for topside applications such as deck cleaning or pipe inspection.

The Neron pumps can also be used as fluid injection system for multiple pressure range for hot stab and seal check use during ROV operations. Designed to allow easy installation, the fluid injection system has a proven track record of use by the major ROV operating companies, said Neron.

Pump speed controlled

The Moyno Gear Drivehead (MGD) uses an adjustable hydraulic gear drive to efficiently control downhole progressing cavity pump (PCP) speed at the wellsite to maximise production without pumping off the well.


Manufactured by R&M;Energy Systems, part of the Fluid Management Group of Robbins & Myers, the MGD has integrated variable speed control and a broad selection of speed and torque combinations suited to an extensive range of downhole PCP applications at up to 4000psi.

The MGD also features a rating of 70hp at 1200 rpm input speed, acceptance of standard ‘C’ mount 80cc or 90cc hydraulic motors for ready access to costeffective components, and an effective backspin control for operational safety.

Subsea INS set for North Sea work

Two PHINS 6000 subsea inertial navigation systems recently sold by Ixsea to Ashtead Technology are destined to be used by a major ROV operator for work in the UK North Sea starting in early April.

PHINS 6000 is a subsea INS that provides position, true heading, attitude, speed and heave data. The high-accuracy inertial measurement unit is coupled with an embedded digital signal processor that runs an advanced Kalman filter. The Ashtead units have pre-calibrated Doppler velocity logs (DVL), making them easy to install and ready to use in a range of precise navigation applications. The units are highly versatile and, since there are no spinning elements, they are practically maintenance-free.

Ixsea manufactured PHINS to conform with ‘dual-use’ export regulations, which dramatically increases the ease with which the system can be moved to different project sites around the world.

Ashtead operations manager Ian Harvey commented: ‘Our existing OCTANS units have proved highly popular with our clients and to keep up with their demands we are adding fully DVLintegrated PHINS INS systems to the rental fleet. This investment re-emphasises our commitment to the subsea market, by offering the latest technologies available.’

Diver friendly flange pulling tool

A new, diver-friendly hydraulic lightweight flange pulling tool is among a range of products and services recently unveiled by Aberdeen-headquartered RBG to enhance its marine and subsea capability.


Used to aid the safe and efficient assembly of flanged connections prior to the application of bolts, the compact tool is operated either by a hand pump or remotely powered hydraulic unit and can pull flanges from distances up to of 600mm, with an applied force of 20t.

RBG has also released upgraded flange management software. The system advises on the correct bolt torque and tension values by recording flange behaviour, modifications and longterm activity, providing an integrated point of reference for documentation, technical information, images and video that can be accessed remotely at any time, for simple reference or to support HSE related matters.

Personal electronic sentinel

The CrewSafe system developed by Perth, Western Australia-based electronic marine personnel safety equipment provider Mobilarm has been specified by Bhagawan Marine for its fleet of 30 offshore support vessels.


Crewsafe is a wireless safety network for employees which continuously monitors the location of personnel and generates an immediate alert, automatically detecting if a man goes overboard (MOB), moves out of range or manually activates a distress signal.

A series of wireless internal and external routers create a monitoring and reporting web onboard a vessel or throughout the external areas of a facility, such as a loading jetty or wharf. Each employee carries a small transceiver which transmits a unique signal via routers to the network, able to immediately detect any break in the signal and raise an alarm if the connection is not re-established within a few seconds.

When installed on vessels, the Crewsafe network can interface with existing navigation systems and GPS. In a MOB emergency, a waypoint on the vessel’s chart plotter is logged to mark when and where the incident occurred. The system can report and track multiple events, always prioritising the more serious risk of a MOB over other emergencies. Mobilarm says Crewsafe is scalable to match a broad range of vessel and marine facility types and sizes.

FIREFLY FINDS FAVOUR
IPWL reports considerable interest in the Firefly welding bug, the company’s new lightweight, semi-automatic mechanical welding machine, launched at the recent Subsea 2010 show in Aberdeen.


Firefly’s self-adjusting legs keep adjustment between pipe sizes to a minimum and allow a greater range of pipe sizes to be welded on one set of legs. Applications include welding oil, gas and water pipelines from 10in minimum diameter to flat with a maximum wall thickness of 3in. It can be used in the construction of petroleum storage tanks, or on oil/gas rig/platform support legs, and is also suitable for welding jackets for wind farms. IPWL says the bug is particularly suited to applications requiring a high level of weld repeatability.

Firefly has both hardwire and flux core welding capability due to the high torque motor installed; effective feed of both types of weld wire is possible. It has already been demonstrated at Land & Marine on 24in diameter X65 pipe; at Serimax in Scotland on 16in X65 pipe, and at Nacap in Holland on 48in X18 pipe. The current lead time is 12 weeks.

Two-year development deal for Dora

UTEC Survey Inc of Houston has signed a two-year cooperation agreement with the Oceanographic Research Department of the University of Delaware covering the enhancement and use of the university’s Icelandbuilt Hafmynd ‘Gavia’ autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) system. Under the terms of the agreement, UTEC Survey will be working with the university to extend the vehicle’s current capabilities, as well as deploying the AUV on a global basis to support a range of commercial survey operations.


The state-of-the-art AUV – known as ‘Dora’ (for Delaware Oceanographic Research Autonomous vehicle) – with its inertial navigation module provides a robust platform from which to conduct underwater surveys and subsea mapping operations, including hydrographic surveys, submarine cable & pipeline routes surveys, inspections, and post-hurricane survey work. Fully equipped with a combination of side-scan sonar, interferometric bathymetry sonar and digital video camera, all in separate modules, the system is depth-rated to 1600ft.

In addition, the vehicle – just 9ft long and, depending on the configuration of modules deployed, weighing 70-180lbs – is said to offer a number of advantages over traditional, large-size, deepwater AUVs. The use of separate modules allows easy transportation and deployment, and the Gavia’s modular design allows it to be easily customized to meet specific job requirements.

UTEC Survey plans to enhance the vehicle’s capabilities with additional equipment including a modular subbottom profiler and will also be working closely with the university’s ongoing R&D program on the planned incorporation of a magnetometer module capability to the vehicle in the near future. Trevor Hughes, the company’s sales and marketing director, commented: ‘The ability to use this robust platform to perform detailed surveys, coupled with the additional sensors UTEC will add to the vehicle, will significantly enhance the group’s capabilities to provide a highly portable AUV system on a global basis.’

Shark snaps up Panther

Romanian-based subsea services company Shark SRL expects to see more accurate pipeline survey results having recently purchased a Saab Seaeye Panther XT electric work ROV for use with its Reson SeaBat 7125 multi-beam sonar system. The company also expects to save costs in space and handling by using the compact but powerful Panther XT rather than a bulkier hydraulic vehicle.


The system comes as a complete compact survey ROV solution with a pair of three-function hydraulic camera booms fitted with Seaeye cameras and LED lights to provide high quality video images. Also fitted is an Ixsea Octans gyro, a Doppler velocity log, sound velocity probe and a Digiquartz depth sensor.

The accuracy of the SeaBat sonar, which can detect a target as small as a tennis ball, makes it ideal for high-resolution seafloor survey work. And the demands of such accurate data acquisition are more than adequately met by the technological performance of the Panther XT, says sonar manufacturer Reson. ‘It’s more than just about sonar,’ said Reson product lifecycle manager Rich Lear. ‘To get the best usable acoustic data needs an ROV that can do the job, with an easy bolt-on interface and the right payload.’

For pipeline survey operations the Panther XT can operate either free-swimming with its auto altitude feature, or with a detachable wheeled skid. For their work tasks, Shark has chosen to equip their Panther XT with a detachable five and six function heavy duty manipulator, along with an anvil cutter, rotary disc cutter, water jet and cleaning brush.

Cladding challenge

Weld overlay cladding specialist Arc Energy Resources reports that it has successfully clad more than eighty 24in, heavy-walled flanges weighing 1.6t each and a number of stress and tension joints up to 9m long and weighing up to 10t, as part of two challenging projects for Acteon Group company Subsea Riser Products (SRP).


The specialised components are for use on high pressure drilling risers destined for major projects in the British and Norwegian sectors of the North Sea.

Commenting for SRP, Mark Hudson said the company’s flange couplings include welded versions and its proprietary Shrink-Fit solution, both designed to provide long-term structural integrity and sealing in the extreme load and pressure applications created in a dynamic environment. Weld overlay cladding is vital to the performance of the riser couplings, he added, in order to achieve reliable pressure containment in a corrosive environment.

One of the SRP risers for the British sector was designed for a working pressure of 10,000psi with an extreme peak pressure rating of 12,200psi, one of the highest pressure drilling risers currently operating in the North Sea (OE August 2008).

The majority of the components clad by Arc Energy were 21in diameter pipe connections with flange outside diameters of 1.1m, manufactured from high strength low alloy steel.

The company used its specially designed weld overlay cladding stations to apply a corrosion resistant 625 Nickel alloy to the flange sealing pockets.

Applying weld overlay cladding to the two upper and three lower tapered stress joints and three tension joints provided more of a challenge due to the physical size of the components.

Arc Energy managing director Alan Robinson said cladding SRP’s mix of flanges and integrally formed components required new welding techniques to be qualified. The size of the stress joints required specialised handling equipment to allow them to be more easily manipulated, he added.

The company also performed heat treatment and extensive stress relief testing on-site to ensure the strength and integrity of the bond and of the material itself.  OE



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