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Next Generation Offshore Lifts for Modern Oil and Gas Operations How a Family Business Takes Marine Lifts to the Next Level Challenges and Opportunities Lie in Wait Key Trends in Offshore Cargo and Personnel Lifts Installing the Next Generation of Lifts Designing the Next Generation of Offshore Elevators

Sponsored by

Published by Global Business Media



Holland Marine Lifts has brought many innovations

Working on an offshore installation demands

to the offshore industry through all the custom

heart and strength, and that applies just as

projects we have worked on. It is now possible

much to our lifts. Holland Marine Lifts designs,

to purchase a custom hydraulic cargo platform

builds, installs and maintains lifts that fulfil a

lift complete with weather tight hatch or weather

custom need. From Holland Marine Lifts’ first

tight flush hatch. To top it off, we guarantee you to

projects in 2002, we have exclusively worked

overcome whatever technical or spatial challenges

on custom projects.

you have for us.




Next Generation Offshore Lifts for Modern Oil and Gas Operations How a Family Business Takes Marine Lifts to the Next Level Challenges and Opportunities Lie in Wait


Key Trends in Offshore Cargo and Personnel Lifts Installing the Next Generation of Lifts Designing the Next Generation of Offshore Elevators

Foreword 2 Tom Cropper, Editor

How a Family Business Takes Marine 3 Lifts to the Next Level Holland Marine Lifts BV Sponsored by

A Lift That Makes Work on Deck More Efficient Published by Global Business Media

Published by Global Business Media Global Business Media Limited 62 The Street Ashtead Surrey KT21 1AT United Kingdom Switchboard: +44 (0)1737 850 939 Fax: +44 (0)1737 851 952 Email: Website: Publisher Kevin Bell Editor Tom Cropper

A Chance to Improve the Chain’s Efficiency Getting a Problem off the Shipyard’s Back This is Just One Story

Challenges and Opportunities Lie in Wait Tom Cropper, Editor

The Growth of Deep Water Cost Considerations

Key Trends in Offshore Cargo 8 and Personnel Lifts

Business Development Director Marie-Anne Brooks

Jo Roth, Staff Writer

Senior Project Manager Steve Banks

Cost of Use

Advertising Executives Michael McCarthy Abigail Coombes


Energy Consumption Aesthetics Materials

Production Manager Paul Davies

Finding the Perfect Partner

For further information visit:

Installing the Next Generation of Lifts


James Butler, Staff Writer The opinions and views expressed in the editorial content in this publication are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily represent the views of any organization with which they may be associated. Material in advertisements and promotional features may be considered to represent the views of the advertisers and promoters. The views and opinions expressed in this publication do not necessarily express the views of the Publishers or the Editor. While every care has been taken in the preparation of this publication, neither the Publishers nor the Editor are responsible for such opinions and views or for any inaccuracies in the articles.

© 2015. The entire contents of this publication are protected by copyright. Full details are available from the Publishers. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the copyright owner.

Powering and Construction Suppliers

Designing the Next Generation of Offshore Elevators


Tom Cropper, Editor

The Future Market Developing the Next Generation of Technologies

References 14



Foreword T

HE MARKET for cargo and crew lifts on board

conventional technology having lasted for decades,

oil and gas platforms is growing as operators

developers must demonstrate a clear commercial

look for ways to improve the movement of staff and

case for their services.

the efficiency of operations. Where opportunity lies,

That is happening. As Jo Roth highlights, the

though, so too do challenges. A need to develop

last few years have seen a definite step forward in

robust elevators capable of withstanding everything

technology and the way in which companies are

deep water oil exploration and production can

utilising lifts. A more intuitive approach to design

throw at them is driving development forward.

and closer collaboration between the buyer and seller

In our lead article, we’ll see where some of this development is taking place. Holland Marine is a

are paving the way for lifts to deliver a huge range of high quality services for the offshore industry.

family owned company producing lifts for the marine

Finally we’ll take a look at what the future holds.

industry. They outline how platforms lifts are proving

Both new and existing technologies are being used

to be critical in helping to reduce the loads on cranes,

in innovative ways. This will enable the oil industry

as well as showing how they have adjusted their

to make the efficiency improvements and cost

approach to improve the design of their lifts.

reductions it needs to be financially sustainable now

We’ll then look into the background of the market in

and into the future.

which companies such as these are working. Oil and gas companies have a strong need for their products, but constricted resources mean new technologies have to go much further in proving themselves. With

Tom Cropper Editor

Tom Cropper has produced articles and reports on various aspects of global business over the past 15 years. He has also worked as a copywriter for some of the largest corporations in the world, including ING, KPMG and the World Wildlife Fund.



How a Family Business Takes Marine Lifts to the Next Level Holland Marine Lifts BV HML increases efficiency by thinking outside the ‘box’


OLLAND MARINE Lifts (HML) designs, builds, installs and maintains lifts that fulfil a custom need. In their work, the team regularly runs into highly specific questions. Be it the given situation which asks for creativity, or the occasional unorthodox needs of customers, the HML team is constantly challenged to think outside existing possibilities. During their 13 years of existence, innovation has never been their main focus. But working on custom projects all the time seems to create the perfect context for innovation. With their youngest trump card – a hydraulic cargo platform lift complete with weathertight hatch and coaming – standing in the workshop, tested, packed and ready for shipment, it’s time for a chat with Emile van der Starre. Emile is one of the two brothers who head the family business. We sat down to talk about how they came up with this idea, how innovation occurs while it is not your main focus, and about making custom lifts in general.

A Lift That Makes Work on Deck More Efficient A custom hydraulic cargo platform lift is –- together with the crew lift – one of the most common requests HML receives from the offshore industry. It is a lift that increases significantly the efficiency of work on deck. Lowering a container below deck with a deck crane takes time and brings quite a number of risks with it. Since the cargo platform lift quadruples the deck crane capacity, it is not surprising that they are integrated in rigs more and more. “We are being asked quite regularly for a custom hydraulic cargo platform lift. What is custom about the requests can differ significantly. It could be a challenging weight capacity or a technical challenge that arises from the available construction space. In any case, we work with the involved shipyard to get all the specifics right. Obviously, their domain is the rig itself, up to the

lift shaft, and our lift is kind of a ‘guest’ inside their work. So we consult back and forth on measures and specifics.” Constructing a lift requires a lot of attention for all kinds of details. Several interfaces for things like the hydraulic cylinders and deflection sheaves need to be in exactly the right place. The interfaces for the deflection sheaves, for example, need a highly specific angle. If the angle is just slightly off, the lift will not go anywhere. Sprinklers or cable trays that are in the way of the lift platform or fire insulation that doesn’t meet the standards of the strict lift regulations are absolutely forbidden. No matter how tight a lift shaft might get, there’s a lot of scope for error. “A lift is a pretty straightforward concept: a box that you move up and down for vertical transport. Lift engineering in itself is, however, not that simple and straightforward. Lifts demand a particular set of skills and knowledge. You cannot expect a shipyard to know everything about lifts, but still we are dependent on them for our product. One out of ten times our mechanics inspected the shaft just before installing and then concluded that something was wrong. And the thing with lifts is – it can only go wrong once and you don’t want to reach that point!”

A Chance to Improve the Chain’s Efficiency Back when their father was still active in the company, the HML team worked on the principle that it would be better for everyone if they could invest their knowledge and craftsmanship in the development of a lift shaft. HML considered it an opportunity to improve the efficiency of the chain in which they work. But it was implausible to think that HML would create the lift shaft too, although many engineering details of a cargo platform lift are worked into the coaming. if they could deliver just the coaming as one skid, the room for error would be diminished greatly. It took a few years before the right opportunity came along, but eventually it did. WWW.OFFSHORETECHNOLOGYREPORTS.COM | 3


Sprinklers or cable trays that are in the way of the lift platform or fire insulation that doesn’t meet the standards of the strict lift regulations are absolutely forbidden CARGO LIFT TROUGH

“After dealing with an installation problem on an oil rig, that actually involved the interfaces inside the coaming, we suggested to the customer that it would be wiser to have us develop the coaming next time. It would get a problem off the shipyard’s back (the lift shaft can be a real nuisance to the shipbuilder) and we would be sure that installations go smoothly. Six months later the customer ordered a new, custom cargo platform lift, complete with coaming this time.” Holland Marine Lifts saw this as a huge opportunity. By adding the coaming to the design, new options opened up as HML could think about different ways to do achieve this. As a relatively small family business, the team is used to work closely together. The welder


looks over the shoulder of the draftsman and vice versa. The coaming’s design process went in the same fashion. The various disciplines all put their knowledge into the coaming. Ultimately, the technical drawings were presented to an engineering consultancy who assessed whether the design would be in line with the ship’s structure. They also created the drawings needed to present the design to DNV GL for approval.

Getting a Problem off the Shipyard’s Back A few months later, the same customer again ordered a new, custom cargo lift. On this occasion, not only with coaming, but including, also, the hatch of the lift. Once again the HML




team could think ‘outside the box’ (the lift) and experience new opportunities. Being active in luxury superyachts as well, HML has a great eye for detail. ‘It works’ is not good enough for them: they want their lifts to be sturdy, durable and beautiful. Additionally, lifts are among the most strictly regulated objects in the ocean and HML thus sees safety as an art as well. Since the devil is in the detail, this project gave the opportunity to work on every aspect of the design. “It turned out to be a great new chapter for our company. Not only do we believe it is more efficient to have the lift builder create the vital parts of the lift shaft, we are able, also, to enhance small things in the lift design. Especially when we topped it off with the hatch! We moved the hydraulic cylinders that open the hatch, as well as the lock, to the inside. These components are vulnerable on the outside, but it takes a lot of knowledge of lifts (and trial and error) to find a way to integrate elements like these.” This process pushed HML to the maximum of their skills. However strongly connected to the lift, a weather-tight hatch and coaming is something

different. There are no end of regulations, technical calculations and testing that need to be taken into account. But in the end, by taking on this project, HML gained much valuable experience and knowledge. This is exactly what makes these versatile lift engineers so… versatile! So far, Holland Marine Lifts has designed, built and installed six coamings on various rigs. For shipbuilders, naval architects and rig owners, the new options HML provides offer a great solution. They take something foreign and challenging from their hands, while improving the end result.

This is Just One Story Doing something different every day makes it much more likely for you to come up with new ideas. And that’s what HML is all about. As well as in the offshore industry, HML’s custom lifts can also be found in superyachts and navy vessels. Over the years the HML team has created various lifts, from full glass cylindrical luxury models that can be delivered in various sizes, to ammunition lifts that keeps working safely even during heavy fire. WWW.OFFSHORETECHNOLOGYREPORTS.COM | 5


Challenges and Opportunities Lie in Wait Tom Cropper, Editor Manufacturers of offshore cargo and crew elevators face a market full of opportunities but also challenges.

Offshore oil has a new target to aim for. Instead of delivering sustainable production at $100 per barrel prices, it has to find a way of functioning in an environment in which oil sells for $60 per barrel


HE OFFSHORE oil and gas industry is undergoing a period of change. This is creating new challenges and strains for which existing infrastructure is not always fully equipped. Across the installation we are seeing aging and outdated equipment being replaced or refurbished. Crew and cargo lifts are no exception, but this change comes at a difficult time for the offshore industry – one in which extracting oil is becoming more expensive, challenging and high risk. Meanwhile the commercial proposition is becoming increasingly tight. It is, in many ways, an extremely difficult environment for new technology to thrive, especially if companies have been working with existing conventional units for many years. Even so, although money is tight, significant investment is needed in order to meet the challenges of modern oil exploration and production. Where there is challenge, therefore, there is also opportunity. And those manufacturers who can develop technology which meets the needs of the industry will reap the dividends.

The Growth of Deep Water Deeper, further and more extreme. These are the watchwords of the offshore oil and gas environment. As the age of easy oil draws to a close, the only option for exploration and production companies is to push into new areas. These were previously considered unreachable, but expediency coupled with an improvement in the available technology is proving to be the mother of invention. An example of the type of oil platform going into production can be seen with rigs such as Shell’s Noble Bully 1 – a gigantic rig capable of drilling thousands of feet into the deepest ocean. Despite an uncertain economic climate, rigs such as this are still being put into operation. In 2014, for example, Exxon’s $8bn 160,000 tonnes behemoth started operations in the Gulf of Mexico. Even with such costs, companies still see 6 | WWW.OFFSHORETECHNOLOGYREPORTS.COM

deep water exploration as being financially viable. These are vast constructions designed to cope with the most severe environments imaginable. Deep water exploration places a range of new challenges for crew and cargo elevators. Conditions are more extreme. Rigs are more likely to encounter rough seas and suffer from sudden movement or impact. Corrosive elements and hazardous materials have an impact on the integrity and safety of material. Moreover, extreme heat fluctuations mean infrastructure needs to be tough enough to cope with almost anything. Cargo lifts will experience increased strain and load requirements. The scale of equipment used on extreme deep water rigs is rising rapidly. Existing rigs need upscaling, while elevators operating in newly built platforms must be bigger, better and more reliable than ever before. Lifts using high power hydraulic lifting equipment are capable of lifting tens of thousands of kilogrammes in weight. They must also be more durable and able to withstand the dangers of continuous operation in a hazardous environment. For example, special equipment such as SOLAS A 60 doors offer semi-watertight construction and improved fire resistance. Buttons need to be waterproof and explosionproof components will be required to ensure maximum safety for crew and equipment.

Cost Considerations This exploration comes against a turbulent economic backdrop. Plunging oil prices have placed enormous pressure on profit margins. In this slimmed down environment there is real uncertainty as to whether offshore drilling can remain viable for the future. An illustration can be seen in Statoil’s Goliat oil field. A massive new rig has recently begun operations in the area. So far it has cost approximately $5.5billion. In order for it to make a profit, one analyst believes oil prices would


have to average $95 per barrel to be financially sustainable1. Such price levels are the stuff of dreams for the offshore industry. The past twelve months have seen oil prices crash, recover and then crash again. At the time of writing, Brent Crude stood at $44.21 per barrel2. With Saudi Arabia still sticking to its guns of maintaining market share and refusing to cut production, the signs are that the price will continue in this relatively depressed state for the foreseeable future. This is a world away from the $95 per barrel estimated to make Goliat financially viable. At the very least it indicates the enormous leap forward in cost efficiency that needs to occur if the offshore oil industry is to continue to function and if it is to tap every conceivable pocket of oil out there in the ocean. Even so, necessity is proving, in many instances, to be the mother of invention. Offshore oil has a new target to aim for. Instead of delivering sustainable production at $100 per barrel prices, it has to find a way of functioning in an environment in which oil sells for $60 per barrel. With most analysts expecting oil to rebound to this level at some point, this is by no means unachievable. Technological innovations are driving performance throughout rig operations. In every instance the theme is the same; a lower cost of ownership, more efficient technologies,

more effective materials, low maintenance times and energy consumption – all of which are enabling the offshore industry to function in a lower priced environment. Crew and cargo elevators will have to play their part. So, while equipment and materials must conform to the very highest standards in terms of quality, they must also be more cost efficient. It is a challenging and, at times, contradictory set of goals. To this we add another consideration – the environment. Regulatory scrutiny is placing an onus on the industry to reduce its carbon footprint wherever it can. Improved technology which can reduce energy consumption can reduce emissions, as can new materials manufactured in a more environmentally sustainable way. Innovation, then, sits at the heart of everything. However, in adopting any new technology, operators have to be mindful of all these pressures. They need materials which are hardwearing, long lasting, and high performance. At the same time, they have to assess the bottom line proposition. Any new purchase must justify itself financially. What will be the ROI and how soon will it start to pay down on its investment? In selling their products to the industry, therefore, suppliers will have to be mindful of the multiple conflicting challenges operators currently face.



Key Trends in Offshore Cargo and Personnel Lifts Jo Roth, Staff Writer

Expediency, aesthetics and innovation are driving forward development in cargo and personnel lifts.

Lifts may seem to be straightforward pieces of engineering, but more thought is now being given to their manufacture, installation and everyday use


F ALL the innovations taking place in the offshore oil and gas environment, crew and cargo lifts are probably not going to receive the most attention. However, in an environment of increased risk and challenge as well as a more precarious commercial outlook, every incremental improvement counts. Lifts may seem to be straightforward pieces of engineering, but more thought is now being given to their manufacture, installation and everyday use. Elevators are now being constructed which are more energy efficient, reliable and safer to operate. This article will examine some of the key trends which are shaping the industry.

Cost of Use As with anything, cost represents a major consideration. Every penny counts and before any new product can be purchased and installed, it has to demonstrate a return on investment. This is one factor driving uptake of lifts, especially for heavy duty cargo. Transferring equipment using a cargo elevator is a far less expensive method than using a heavy duty lifting crane. This is persuading more and more deep water operators to install elevators throughout the operation. It frees up capacity on existing cranes and leads to a lower overall cost of doing business. Money is a driving force in determining the make-up of power systems. Efficiency is key. Developing systems which demonstrate improved power conversion capacity can lead to lower power output and cheaper running costs. Smaller and more compact units designed with the constrained space capacity of offshore installations in mind also do much to cut down on construction costs and save space. Everywhere the emphasis is on driving superior performance for less money and with a smaller footprint. More efficient and tailor-made designs with the specific requirements of the offshore oil and 8 | WWW.OFFSHORETECHNOLOGYREPORTS.COM

gas market in mind are improving usability and cost efficiency across the board.

Energy Consumption Much of these efforts to reduce costs have a knock-on effect in improving the carbon footprint. The oil and gas industry is coming under pressure to manage emissions across their operation. Hydraulic lifts functioning on diesel can be expensive and dirty to operate, while electrical drives can be cleaner, but may not be capable of lifting the heaviest loads. By investing time and energy into cleaner and less impactful manufacturing techniques for components, suppliers are also able to add another dimension to their marketing.

Aesthetics The term pretty as an oil rig may not be one which ever enters popular vernacular – and with good reason. Even so, manufacturers of the next generation of crew and cargo elevators are setting greater store on aesthetics and comfort as well as functionality. Lifts will not only be used for everyday purposes, but will also transport visitors and VIPs. Putting on a good show is an important business concern. Over and above this, aesthetics help improve the wellbeing of crew on board a rig. An offshore installation is a tightly controlled environment and personnel will spend prolonged periods of time in this space. Creating a more pleasant working environment serves to make their time more pleasant and can improve productivity. Simple measures such as taking aesthetic cues from other industries – such as luxury sea vessels – can help to create a more pleasant environment on board the rig. There is a shifting culture within the industry. Although an oil rig has a reputation for being a rough and ready environment, more and more manufacturers are looking to make the entire experience as pleasant and comfortable


as possible. The ethos is that there is no reason crew lifts should be any less comfortable than a personnel lift in an expensive well furnished office. This drive for improved aesthetics comes hand in hand with a need for better safety. In an offshore environment, the slightest problem can be dangerous. With drilling taking place further from shore and in more extreme environments, the importance of safe and reliable operation over a prolonged period of time has never been higher. International safety regulations are becoming tougher and stricter and customers are becoming more demanding. The margin of error is shrinking which means perfection is the name of the game for the next generation of lifts.

Materials As construction techniques evolve, operators are improving the quality and range of construction materials. Stainless-steel cars offer explosion proof, hard wearing solutions for extremely aggressive environments. New technologies enable manufacturers to deliver components more efficiently and offer improved resistance to all conditions. Other materials are also increasingly being used in offshore oil construction. Aluminium offers a combination of low cost construction, light weight and high strength. With the addition of coating, it offers, also, fire resistance allowing it to operate in many areas of the oil rig.

Finding the Perfect Partner Alongside all these innovations, the lift industry is experiencing a similar trend to other areas of the offshore industry. As offshore installations become more challenging, operators have a greater need for tailor-made installations. One size fits all is increasingly being seen as not being quite good enough. As a result there is now a closer link between the manufacturer and the end-user. A significant difference exists between the quality on offer from various firms. Those with a dedicated experience in lift construction and who can bring this to bear have a distinct advantage. Furthermore, those which are willing devote more time and effort into working with the client, adjusting designs to requirements and providing ongoing support will also offer a superior level of value. As such, when the time comes to select a supplier, oil and gas rig operators will be looking not only at the quality of the technology on offer, but also the individual supplier. In addition to this, the overall installation process is becoming more homogenous. Whereas previously, different suppliers might have been used to construct the lift and lift shaft, the same companies are now increasingly being used for both. This enables a more harmonious design, which can reduce energy wastage, maintenance, and overall cost of ownership. This represents an additional challenge and opportunity for both suppliers and operators.



Installing the Next Generation of Lifts James Butler, Staff Writer New technologies offer new options and significant operational improvements – but only if operators learn how to get the most out of them.

The challenge – as ever in the oil and gas market – is to bridge the gap from innovation to marketable and sustainable products


IL AND gas rig operators are turning to elevators to perform more and more tasks. From transporting crew between decks and living quarters to inspecting drilling equipment and moving increasingly large pieces of machinery, there is a greater range of options than ever before. While the technology is evolving, operators need to understand its abilities and potential to make the best use of it. Elevators are being used in three main areas: 1. Crew and personnel lifts: When it comes to living quarters and the daily environment in which they work, a greater emphasis is being placed on comfort. Speaking to Offshore Technology of offshore accommodation supplier Ferguson Modular said: “I think nowadays, there’s quite a high profile on the welfare issues of people offshore, so they are looking for a high-quality product3.” Lifts are now being designed with a greater emphasis on comfort and liveability and, while today’s living quarters may not sound like the height of luxury, they represent a massive step forward. At the same time, they need to be suitable for the environment in which they are working. Lifts for ultra-deep water and extreme environments must be tough, reliable and hard wearing. They are likely to experience waves of 30 to 40 metres, extreme cold, salt corrosion and much more. Solid units with fire and explosion-proof casings are a must. 2. Cargo elevators: Bigger and more powerful cargo elevators can alleviate the pressure on deck cranes. Larger pieces of equipment can be moved more quickly, efficiently and cheaply by loading it onto a lift. The next generation of cargo lifts need additional capacity to lift the heavier loads required for deep water drilling. 3. Derrick lifts: These are used to inspect pipework and the exterior of the vessels. They will be exposed to the elements, which means aluminium alloys and other materials resistant


to salt corrosion and other harmful elements are becoming more popular. In all these environments, the watchwords are superior performance, cost efficiency and reliability. In the extreme conditions faced offshore, the margin for error is slim. Units which can function reliably for a prolonged period of time with minimal maintenance requirements have a considerable competitive advantage.

Powering and Construction As technology improves, so too does the range of options open to buyers. They will face a number of key choices such as whether to use wire rope or chains for lifting. The emergence of advanced synthetic wire ropes, meanwhile, means operators can use products which, in some cases, match the strength of wire ropes, but at a much lower weight. They will also have to decide where to install a machine room – above, below or beside the lift trunk, and whether to use sliding doors or hinged. For extreme environments they will also need to consider advanced explosion proof designs to ensure the safety of personnel. Last, but not least, we come to the way in which the lift is powered. There is now an increasing array of advanced electronic and hydraulic powering options. The choice will depend on the location of the rig and the conflicting benefits of cost, reliability, durability and endurance. For some operators, though, tried and tested technology such as rack and pinion elevators remain the best option for aggressive environments. Here, heavy duty workload and reliable functionality under stress continues to be a useful option in areas such as topsides, decks and FSPOs.

Suppliers Many suppliers are constrained by scale. The market is full of relatively small family run companies which are high on expertise but low on resources. The demands of the market present a host of


opportunities, but a question mark hangs around their ability to take advantage. It is in the interests of the industry as a whole that they manage to do so, which is why, despite the difficulties facing the oil market, significant investment is being dedicated to supporting these concepts. The challenge – as ever in the oil and gas market – is to bridge the gap from innovation to marketable and sustainable products. Collaboration between different parties with complementary skills and technology can improve the quality of technology on offer, while major oil companies can invest in smaller innovative companies in the knowledge that they will be able to develop the products and technology they need in the future. When choosing suppliers and looking at the services they provide, though, it can be difficult to ensure the best solution possible. Extreme deep water environments throw up a number of new challenges and unknown factors. It is not always possible to predict what environmental and operational challenges a rig might face. Testing in laboratory conditions is one thing – how the equipment will fair out in the open sea is quite another. Buyers will need to be reassured that equipment can function in the environment in which it will be working.

Not all suppliers have off-the-shelf style lifts. Installations are highly individual affairs with each rig having different requirements. Lifts may need to be double sided with the ability to offer appropriate access for crew or equipment; they may need water sealing, to carry different loads and to cope with different conditions. Therefore, operators are buying into the company making the delivery as much as the product itself. Before making a purchasing decision, operators will need to look at past projects and see how they have fared in the real world. This gives them a better idea of how the final installation will cope with the challenges being thrown at it. The most important lesson for offshore oil and gas installations is that no single option is ever unique. Different situations will present different requirements. By working closely with a good supplier, operators will be able to secure a production which provides long lasting reliability in all conditions. As the search for oil pushes into more demanding environments, the challenges are becoming much more demanding. However, the good news is that evolving technology is finding ways to evolve to meet all the challenges being thrown at it.



Designing the Next Generation of Offshore Elevators Tom Cropper, Editor Lifts are becoming increasingly integral to the future of deep water offshore oil production. Much, though, depends on the shape of the market.

The elevator has to achieve several goals. It needs to provide comfortable transportation of crew, but at the same time it needs to be reliable and tough enough to withstand the environment in which it is working


REDICTING THE future is difficult in the oil and gas industry particularly given today’s current climate. Even so, it is vitally important. Companies tasked with developing technologies must second guess the environments in which they will be used. Such is the delay in taking a product from design and concept to commercial use, operators must look forward several years into the future. So, what will the environment be like for the next generation of crew and cargo elevators on board an offshore oil platform? And how is the technology being developed to cope with the conflicting demands of the future? In April 2014, a gigantic oil rig was launched which could signpost where that future is going. Its name is Goliat and it lives true to that name in every regard. 65,000 tonnes, 574 feet tall and around 16 stories taller than the tallest building in Norway, it is one of the largest oil rigs in the world. Its location, close to where the Norwegian Sea meets the Barents Sea, will make it the most northerly rig in the Arctic Ocean. Once operational it will be pumping 100,000 barrels a day from 11 subsea wells. As one of only two rigs tapping oil in Arctic Waters, it will face some of the most hazardous environments imaginable. It will be subjected to freezing temperatures, salt water and rough seas. Moreover, its remote location means all equipment must sustain new levels of reliability. Greenpeace has previously argued that it would be almost impossible to clean up an oil spill in the Arctic. The logistical challenges of transporting spare parts and rescuing crew means everything must work as well as possible. The rig includes a 17 story elevator serving a state of the art accommodation block which has room for 120 workers. Everything about the accommodation block screams luxury with a cafeteria, health club and even a cinema. One


worker was quoted as saying “it’s like a 5-star hotel in there4”. The elevator has to achieve several goals. It needs to provide comfortable transportation of crew, but at the same time it needs to be reliable and tough enough to withstand the environment in which it is working. It represents a considerable technical and engineering challenge.

The Future Market The question is: will rigs such as this truly prosper in the future? A depressed market in which supply is currently outstripping demand has caused many to question whether deep water exploration is truly sustainable. According to Goldman Sachs, the current oil price of approximately $40 per barrel could sink further. They warn that once sanctions are lifted on Iran, prices could conceivably drop to $20 per barrel5. Conversely, news that production is peaking from US Shale and suggestions that OPEC could spark a market correction in 2016 has seen confidence returning to the industry in some quarters. Equally, although companies such as Shell and a BP may have cut back on staff in regions such as the North Sea, it appears premature to signal the death knell for deep water exploration. In one respect, Chevron’s new $8bn platform operating in the Gulf of Mexico seems doomed to fail. Planned at a time when oil was more than $100 a barrel, the price plunge will have a significant impact on its profitability. As Forbes reports, at current prices, the point at which the rig starts to pay back on the original investment would be postponed by 18 months. However, this is a long term proposition. Over its 20 year lifespan the rig is expected to pump more than 500 million barrels of oil. Even with a low price, it remains a viable proposition. Imran Khan, a research analyst at the oil consultancy Wood/


Mackenzie said the average breakeven price for oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico is approximately $65 to $75 a barrel. Although some way off the current lows, a return to such levels is highly likely in the long term. The future for deep water exploration, therefore, still appears promising.

Developing the Next Generation of Technologies The industry is moving quickly to address demand. An example of the current approach can be seen on board the support vessel Pieter Schelte. This massive vessel is 381m long by 124m wide, and has a lifting capacity of 49,000 tonnes with a pipelay capacity of 2,000 tonnes. To help with these heavy loads, Dutch company Holland Marine supplied four heavy duty cargo lifts all with a rated load of 2000kgs. One of these lifts travels through the deck making on deck loading possible and reducing the strain on decks. The shafts are protected from the elements by a watertight hatch. The weight of loads taken by cargo lifts is growing and is likely to continue. In addition, companies like Holland Marine are seeing an

increasing demand for platform lifts. The ability to lower a container from the platform below the deck increases the efficiency of work on board the platform and reduces the demand on the crane. According to the company, their cargo lifts can quadruple the capacity of a crane, greatly enhancing efficiency and reducing costs. In a price sensitive and commercially precarious environment, every little gain will represent an important step forward. In many respects the basics underpinning crew and cargo lifts remain unchanged. The mechanics of the lift are relatively straightforward and although new technologies are coming in which can increase load and lifting capacity, much of the engineering making up lifts in the future will be familiar. The biggest changes will be in incremental improvements in efficiency, power output and environmental performance. The design and use of lifts is changing, to provide better access to areas of the platform, improve crew safety and comfort and also to move loads around the rig more efficiently. All these improvements add up to a highly significant step forward for a rig’s entire operability. WWW.OFFSHORETECHNOLOGYREPORTS.COM | 13


References: 1

Oil price dives:


Crude oil rises:


Home from Home: Offshore Accommodation:


This Giant Oil Rig Could Usher in a Radically Altered Arctic: 5

Oil at $20 per barrel – it Could Happen:


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Offshore Technology Report – Next Generation Offshore Lifts for Modern Oil & Gas Operations  

Airport Technology – Innovations in Workspace & Storage Equipment Solutions for Modern Aviation Operations - Holland Marine

Offshore Technology Report – Next Generation Offshore Lifts for Modern Oil & Gas Operations  

Airport Technology – Innovations in Workspace & Storage Equipment Solutions for Modern Aviation Operations - Holland Marine