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Special Report

Next Generation Offshore Pivot Pin Technology Why bondura速 Pins Will Become The New Industry Standard In Pivot Pin Technology Ubiquitous and Vital Where Every Piece Counts The Challenges of Maintenance Life After Life

Sponsored by

Published by Global Business Media



Next Generation Offshore Pivot Pin Technology Why bondura® Pins Will Become The New Industry Standard In Pivot Pin Technology


Ubiquitous and Vital Where Every Piece Counts The Challenges of Maintenance Life After Life



John Hancock, Editor

Why bondura® Pins Will Become The New Industry Standard In Pivot Pin Technology


By Bolt Norge AS

bondura® Pivot Pin Technology – The New Industry Standard Testimony from Transocean

Sponsored by

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 Business Development Director Marie-Anne Brooks Editor John Hancock

Testimony from Stena Drilling

Ubiquitous and Vital


Peter Dunwell, Correspondent

A Part That Matters A Family of Fixings The Most Demanding Environment

Where Every Piece Counts


John Hancock, Editor

An Expensive Undertaking Processing on the Seabed Even Pipelines are Complex

Senior Project Manager Steve Banks

Maintaining a Reputation

Advertising Executives Michael McCarthy Abigail Coombes

The Challenges of Maintenance

Production Manager Paul Davies

A Business Worth Looking After

For further information visit: 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 organisation with which they may be associated.


Peter Dunwell, Correspondent

Prevention Better than Cure Renewable As Well As Carbon The Importance of Renewable Energy Resources to the Subsea Sector Winds of Change

Life After Life


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.

Francis Slade, Staff Writer

© 2013. 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.

References 14

Cover image – Snorre B, Statoil/Harald Pettersen

Hazardous Conditions Pushing the Frontiers Going On Managing a Need to Maintain | 1


Foreword G

iven human nature, it tends to be high profile

notice them, let alone associate them with one of

engineering achievements that capture the

the most important aspects of engineering and yet,

headlines while the myriad components that make

their absence or failure would render inoperable many

up any machine are often considered the reserve

things that we take for granted.

of ‘the back room’. But it is in the back room that

Now, take that ubiquitous application and transfer

the most important contributions to engineering are

it to the modern frontier of engineering, the offshore

often designed and/or evaluated. Recent publicity

energy sector. The costs involved in extracting energy

about the revolutionary Boeing 787 Dreamliner

from beneath the ocean bed or harnessing the latent

has focused not so much on its wholly innovative

energy in winds and currents are massive and many

applications of materials or its ability to harvest and

of the components that make it all possible have

apply to its own efficient operation more data than

to move all of the time. Their function would not be

any previous aircraft: headlines were dominated by

possible without pivot pins whose simple but critical

the fact that a battery had failed and caught fire;

function (to fix items together in a way that allows

very much a ‘backroom’ interest.

movement between them) is literally what makes

The opening article in this Special Report looks

engineering work.

at why conventional pin solutions in all types of

Because of this, the offshore sector places high

construction equipment create problems over time.

value on quality and on durability, not only for its

Depending on the movement pattern of forces

own sake but also because it can help to increase

applied between pin and support, permanent

the times between maintenance activities which, as

deformation can result in different kinds of play,

with everything offshore, are massively costly. Pivot

which can cause limited life in conventional pivot

pins that can both perform their function and last for

pin connections. bondura® pin technology

long periods without maintenance can fulfil many of

overcomes these problems and makes it possible

the cost and engineering objectives that dominate

to use a larger degree of assembly tolerance so

the offshore sector.

that, when assembled, the tolerance between pin and support is zero. Pivot pins, like batteries, are among the unsung heroes of engineering. Most people would never

John Hancock Editor

John Hancock joined as Editor of Offshore Technology Reports in early 2012. A journalist for nearly 25 years, John has written and edited articles and papers on a range of engineering, support services and technology topics as well as for key events in the sector. Subjects have included aero-engineering, testing, aviation IT, materials engineering, weapons research, supply chain, logistics and naval engineering.

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Why bondura® Pins Will Become The New Industry Standard In Pivot Pin Technology By Bolt Norge AS

Why Do Conventional Pin Solutions Create Problems Over Time?


o understand why there will be problems using a conventional pin / support connection, we have to understand the mechanics that work in these kinds of joints. The contact surface between pin and support is reduced significantly by increasing the tolerance between pin and support. Figure 1 illustrates this position. The contact surface between pin and support can be derived using the Hertz contact formula. An increase of assembly tolerance from 0.04mm to 0.1mm will reduce the contact surface between pin and support by 78% and thereby increase contact stress by 4 times! When putting force to this joint connection, the pin will be forced towards the support and the assembly clearance will then be in the opposite area as the contact surface between pin and support. When the force direction is changed, this clearance will give a back and forth movement in the supports. Play is created in these kinds of joints because the contact stress becomes greater than the elasticity limit for the material in the support or in the pin itself. This creates “float” in the material and as a result you will get excessive play between pin and support. This becomes

Fig 1. contact surface between pin and support

permanent and has to be repaired. Permanent deformation in the material can result in different kind of play dependent on the movement pattern of the forces applied between pin and support: 1. Circular movement will give permanent deformation of material in the entire support resulting in an enlargement of support holes. 2. If the force is applied in different directions, the permanent deformation of the material will be located in different places in the support with no exact pattern. 3. When force is applied in a back and forth movement, the permanent deformation will take place in two opposite places of the support producing an oval hole.

bondura® Pivot Pin Technology – The New Industry Standard Now we know how the play develops and results in limited life in a conventional pivot pin connection. This brings us to the solution provider – bondura® pin technology makes it possible to use a larger degree of assembly tolerance and when the bondura® pin is assembled, the tolerance between pin and support is zero. This means that it is an exact fit. The result is a contact surface of 360° and a load supporting surface of 180°. bondura® technology has been developed over the last 25 years and there have been a number of success stories from a wide variety of industries over time. bondura® pivot pin technology can be found in drilling systems offshore and onshore, pipe handling systems, cranes offshore, onshore and in the marine environment, in the mining industry, in power plants and wave energy systems as well as in garbage truck dumping systems. | 3


Graph 1. The correlation between assembly tolerance and contact surface a using Hertz formula

An increase of assembly tolerance from 0.04mm to 0.1mm will reduce the contact surface between pin and support by 78% and thereby increase contact stress by 4 times!

Testimony from Transocean: Whilst I was still with Varco we trialed these expandable coned pins on the G1 PHM pivot arms back in 2003 as this was historically a hinged point that would wear out in a few years and require frequent weld and machining repairs to maintain arm encoder synchronization and tool reliability. When I was last out to the G1 in late 2008 I inspected this common wear connection and found the installation of the bondura® bolts to be as tight as the day they left the shop in 2003. Since then I have tried to push this product into other areas of our equipment and we have just taken delivery of new PRS5R hoist carriage and arm sets for the exchange program with these bolts installed between the carriage and arm connection points (effectively meaning that the hoist carriage should never have to be removed due to pivot wear/bore wear alone). Dean Young Program Manager – Top Drive & Pipehandling Transocean bondura® technology is being established as a new industry standard within pivot pin technology and will be a solution provider for all types of industry that experience these kind of challenges during the operation of equipment. Using bondura® technology will assure you of a problem-free operation of your equipment. We are combating degradation of assets and contribute to a significant increase of the asset lifecycle. It has been a long battle and we will continue to work with end-users who really appreciate the effect of using bondura® pivot pin technology in their joints. This is a technology that is a real and significant cost saver for the end user over

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the lifetime of their equipment – we have proved this over and over again. Combating degradation of equipment and improving the life cycle cost and efficiency of heavy machinery and expensive equipment is our mission going forward.

Testimony from Stena Drilling: Our drilling rig Stena Don DNV id 21728 is equipped with a complete drilling package and cranes delivered by Hydralift /NOV. Equipment was delivered and installed during building process in 1999/2000 and have been in daily use since then. A lot of our equipment is equipped with Bondura bolts in the bearing points. To be mentioned is the main knuckle boom cranes, anchor points for deadline compensator, Top drive, Hydraracker and wire yoke between deadline compensator and lifting wires. During the years in operation we have had to overhaul a few crane cylinders due to internal leakages etc. The Bondura bolts makes the replacement of cylinders a lot easier and faster to do compared to use of standard pin bolts. We are using a Hydraulic bondura bolt pulling tool for removal of bolts and this makes it all a lot easier. We have not experienced that the bolts have been hard to pull and this is very time saving for us. During replacement of cylinders etc we usually replace the bondura bolt. This is only done as a time saving issue as we would have to clean the bolts prior to fitting them again. The removed bolt is cleaned & inspected and sent for storage. We have not seen any wear and tear on the bolts during normal operation and there is no indication of cracks in bolts. The design of the bolt makes it very easy to install the bolts. The coned edge of the bolts makes the entering process very easy and it is not crucial for all components to be


with bondura bolts we have not had any play in the anchor points. We are very pleased with the bondura bolts and our experience with the bolts is very good. We are continually replacing pin bolts with bondura bolts as this give us less maintenance and nonproduction time. Down time caused by bolt failures and extensive play have been reduced to a minimum on equipment equipped with bondura bolts. At the end it is all about production time and lowering the cost for operation. bondura Bolts is one factor that has reduced our maintenance cost. Best Regards Geir Johnny Eide Technical Superintendent Stena Don Fig 2. bondura® assembly with expanding cone sleeves

totally aligned when fitting the bolts. The special hydraulic pulling tool made for the bolts is used during installation of the bolts and as for the removal of bolts this also makes the installation very easy. We recently experienced quite extensive play in the anchor points between the deadline compensator and drillfloor. The deadline compensator cylinders were fixed to the anchor point with an Ø 220 mm pin bolt. During the years in operation the anchor points bolt holes have gotten worn and enlarged. The normal way to fix problems like this is to line bore the anchor points and fit a bushing to compensate for the increased diameter. This would have been very time consuming and we would have to take the rig out of operation during this time. Instead of line boring the anchor points we replaced the existing pin bolt with a bondura Bolt. The cones for the bondura Bolt together with a weekly tightening routine caused the ovality and enlargement of hole to be compensated for and we avoided to make bushings. Since we replaced the pin bolts

Summary: bondura® is your partner in: 1. Combating degradation of assets. 2. Increasing the lifecycle of your equipment. 3. Significantly reducing life cycle costs. 4. C  utting out nonproductive time caused by wear of pivot pins. 5. E  nsuring low maintenance costs during operation. 6. Eliminating stuck pins.

different bondura® pins | 5


Ubiquitous and Vital Peter Dunwell, Correspondent The pivot pin might be unsung in the pantheon of engineering achievement; but without it, the rest would not be possible

At its simplest, a pivot pin would be what holds two halves of a door hinge together so that, no matter how many times the door is opened and closed, the fastening stays strong

A Part That Matters It is often the case that performance of the most complex engineering achievement will (quite literally) turn on a single component; and often that component is the one that (again literally) holds it all together. That is a rather flowery way of saying that non-threaded fastening devices have been at the heart of great engineering for centuries, particularly where two components need to be fixed together and yet be able to move relative to each other. Where a threaded fastening would gradually unwind with the application of repeated turning force or torque, a non-threaded fastening makes the ideal solution. The most basic non-threaded fastening is a nail and a pivot pin is some way up the evolutionary scale from there. The dictionary says that a pivot pin is, ‘a short shaft or pin supporting something that turns’. On a larger, engineering scale, pivot pins are devices that fix two parts together with the ability for each part to move relative to the other. At its simplest, a pivot pin would be what holds two halves of a door hinge together so that, no matter how many times the door is opened and closed, the fastening stays strong… or, at least, acceptably so. Where pivot pins are used in machinery such as a digger, forces that arise other than the turning force can exert a lateral pressure on the pin and its housing causing the one to wear thin or out of shape and the other to develop a too large or, again, misshapen opening for a tight and safe fit: both will cause slackness in the joint, vibration, lack of precision when positioning and, eventually, a reduction in performance or safety. Sometimes, this wearing of the component is a product of the design and assembly process that has to allow certain tolerances in any engineered piece. As a result, the pounding or vibration that signals a loose fitting might start within hours of the installation of a conventional pivot pin into an assembly. The problem is known as lug wear and is “a problem in all machinery and equipment. Once the lugs begin to wear, the wear process accelerates and the holes become oval. This impacts the efficiency and stability of the machine. Welding and line boring is expensive,

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time consuming and temporary – wear will appear again.”1 It’s a matter that can easily be dealt with in a machine such as the digger already cited. But where the pinned pivoting joint is in an inaccessible or hostile environment (or both) repair may become an engineering challenge in itself.

A Family of Fixings It is because of their critical role in any assembly of moving parts that pivot pins have been developed in an array of differently designed devices to suit myriad applications in every sphere of engineering. In fact, many of the specialist manufacturers in this sector will “offer personalized engineered solutions and… are adept at designing specialized fasteners tailored to suit [a] particular application”2 Pivot pins are a critical component in one of the most prolific transportation systems in the world: every railway vehicle that rides on bogies is fixed to the bogies using a pivot pin3. The comfort of passengers, secure containment of load and safety of the system relies very heavily on bogie pivot pins whose integrity governs the management of the vehicle within the load gauge of the railway, i.e. ensures that it does not sway too far out of line to strike parts of the infrastructure.

The Most Demanding Environment Among the most demanding applications are those operating in the oil and gas industry and, within that sector, the most demanding environment is offshore. Given the tremendous demands of the environment in which the offshore oil and gas sector operates and the enclosed nature and isolation of most installations, everything has to be built to the highest structural, safety and operational integrity levels. But if something does go wrong, there aren’t many places to go and if something ceases to function, the cost in lost production and/or environmental damage can be enormous. Going back to the digger example, sometimes the replacement of a worn pivot pin is relatively


straight forward, perhaps adding an hour or two’s labour costs to the price of the item to be replaced. However, in an offshore oil and gas exploration and production environment, the cost of the process required to replace a relatively simple component like a pivot pin might run to tens of thousands of dollars or more to replace an item costing, probably hundreds or thousands of dollars. Added to which, while the maintenance is being carried out, the system or process cannot run which will cause loss of revenue for however long the replacement takes. In those circumstances, the ability of the component (or, more likely, dozens of components) to maintain operational integrity with minimal maintenance interventions despite the forces applied to it will be critical to the viability and profitability of the whole operation. It is this ubiquity of purpose that means pivot pins will be found in all sorts of engineering in the offshore oil and gas sector… drilling rigs and machinery, pipe handling equipment, cranes, power plants and material handling systems. They also play a pivotal role (no pun intended) in equipment for offshore renewable energy systems such as wave energy harvesting and tidal energy capture. Having established the importance of the pivot pin for any engineering-based enterprise, in the remainder of this white paper we’ll look at a number of aspects of the offshore operating sector to consider what might be the impact of equipment failure or simple down time on the sector’s costs, viability and, ultimately, capability to deliver energy.

If something does go wrong, there aren’t many places to go and if something ceases to function, the cost in lost production and/or environmental damage can be enormous | 7


Where Every Piece Counts John Hancock, Editor

Offshore engineering is a complex matter in which the integrity of every component is critical to the safe, productive and viable operation of an installation

Even an apparently monolithic structure such as an exploration or production platform contains hundreds of thousands of parts, many, if not most, of which have to be able to move while remaining securely fixed to the structure or other parts

We live and work in a complex global economy in which considerable rewards are available for those who can realise value, wherever it might be, and can generate a profit from that achievement. This means that it is worth undertaking extraordinary engineering and technology programmes in pursuit of a product. And, there is no field of human endeavour that proves this truth better than deep sea exploration for and production of oil and gas, where it can appear that expense is no object.

An Expensive Undertaking Thom Payne and Douglas-Westwood writing for E&P in 20104 reported that “Annual deepwater expenditure [was] predicted to reach around US $35 billion in 2014, with a total global [capital expenditure] of $167 billion estimated for the 2010-2014 period…” They went on to explain that, “To put this in perspective, $63.6 billion will be spent on the drilling and completion of subsea wells alone...” What is more, according to Wikipedia, the development of subsea oil and gas fields requires specialized equipment [and]... Any requirement to repair or intervene with installed subsea equipment is thus normally very expensive.5 Not to put too fine a point on it, any engineering that can both increase the efficiency of production and reduce the need for repairs or interventions will be of considerable value to an industry where cost is always a major factor in the viability of any operation or process. Perhaps the most obvious piece of equipment in an offshore subsea installation is the ‘rig’ or, more correctly, ‘platform’. But even an apparently monolithic structure such as an exploration or production platform contains hundreds of thousands of parts, many, if not most, of which have to be able to move while remaining securely fixed to the structure or other parts. Strictly, of course, much of a platform is above the surface but, whether it’s a floating installation or fixed to the seabed, a great deal of the structure is beneath the surface and subject to all the challenges and hazards that any subsea component has to face. Again, the less call there is for maintenance interventions, the better.

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At the opposite end of the line, so to speak, is the well head and accompanying ‘Christmas tree’, an assembly of valves, spools, and fittings used for oil and gas wells and named for its apparent resemblance to… a decorated tree. Tree complexity, including the number of moving parts in its assembly, has increased over the last few decades, especially in subsea applications. And, again, because the primary function of a tree is to control the flow into or out of the well, usually oil or gas, any downtime while maintenance is carried out will be an expensive operation.

Processing on the Seabed It doesn’t end with the wellhead and associated equipment. A recent development has seen many operations moving to subsea processing and the equipment associated with it. Subsea process systems can separate oil, water and gas fractions on the seabed and include a number of technologies for separation pumping and compression. They are complex pieces of equipment with numerous moving parts which can add significantly to the workload for any inspection repair and maintenance (IRM) system. In Offshore Technology ‘The Subsea Processing Promise’6 Gareth Evans explains that, for over 20 years subsea processing has been poised as one of the most potentially promising technology developments in the offshore industry – and now, shifting factors within the sector over this period have finally begun to tip the financial balance in its favour. To meet demand driven needs for deeper and more remote reservoirs, the emphasis is on increased and consistent production which, in turn, assumes reliable equipment, all of whose parts can operate for long periods without the need for interventions. Rigzone explains the attraction of subsea processing for an industry where all costs are high7. “The main types of subsea processing include subsea water removal and re-injection or disposal, single-phase and multi-phase boosting of well fluids, sand and solid separation, gas/ liquid separation and boosting, and gas treatment and compression”; Rigzone confirms that this is


an eclectic activity with commensurately complex equipment that will need to be maintained to the usual high standards. It all boils down to the same reality – offshore equipment is intrinsically complex but the less often maintenance or repair intervention are required in equipment operating at the extremes of the planet’s environment (and the deep ocean bed easily qualifies in this category), the better. The corollary of that is that engineering and design that can reduce such interventions will add value out of proportion to their initial cost.

Even Pipelines are Complex At first consideration, pipelines might easily be dismissed as little more than pipes; but the pipework and pipelines within an offshore subsea oilfield and that connect it to the wider world are sophisticated engineering achievements. Offshore pipelines usually include the steel pipe that you’d expect, plus valves and compressor stations all attached at each end to a PLET (Pipeline End Termination) that connects to the wellhead manifold, subsea tree or a riser base. Such an array of processes and equipment require a robust management system to ensure that they function as effectively as possible at all times, that potential failures are caught before they manifest as problems and that, in the last resort, repairs are conducted quickly to a high standard. Is it any wonder then that this industry values quality and longevity in the engineering it employs to match the lifespan of its exploitable assets?

Maintaining a Reputation But if the operational and direct operational cost considerations for robust engineering and minimal need for intervention is not sufficient, consider the reputational value (or loss) that will attach to the consequences of engineering performance. Any problem with an offshore oil installation is guaranteed to arouse public concern ranging from interest to protest. As BP’s Deepwater Horizon disaster showed, there are plenty of people and organisations only too ready to exploit incipient public concern about engineering that they don’t understand except to the extent that it has the potential to generate massive profits and catastrophic environmental damage in the same degree. Reliability, a minimal need for interventions of any sort, and engineering that can cope with wear and configuration changes without losing function, is something to be highly valued in the offshore oil and gas business. Any failure or loss of function on an offshore installation will be expensive and, if the incident leads to a leak, that cost can be counted in lost production, compensation for the impact on third parties or the local environment, the cost of ‘clearing up’, the cost of reputational damage on market share, profit and the value of the business. Viewed in this context, the pivot pin, sitting as it does at all the most critical points of change and movement in the system, looks to be an item whose quality, utility, durability and ability to cope with the change of normal wear, makes it a very important part in a very expensive process. | 9


The Challenges of Maintenance Peter Dunwell, Correspondent

Offshore operations pose many challenges to maintenance and those challenges evolve as the sector develops

One question has to be – how can engineering be built in such a way that it will cope with challenges and stresses and continue to operate?

A Business Worth Looking After Oil & Gas UK’s survey of the well services sector published 23 May 20138 reveals that, “companies delivering drilling, completion, testing and maintenance for oil and gas wells generated gross revenue of £1.9 billion ($3.05 billion) in 2012, the highest since records began in 1996… The sector continued to invest in future capacity with spending on equipment and technology rising by around five per cent from $178 million to $186 million. Technological innovation remained a priority for well services contractors, some of whom spent up to 90 per cent of their annual capital investment on developing new technologies.”

Prevention Better than Cure The above figures emphasise the point but readers will need no reminding of the costs and potential value of infrastructure for offshore oil and gas, nor of the very real threats that exist to operability and profitability. Bearing that in mind, one question has to be – how can engineering be built in such a way that it will cope with challenges and stresses and continue to operate? It is not a small matter when equipment is operating at thousands of feet below the surface of the ocean, subject to a variety of pressures for which ability to move with the prevailing force must be combined with the engineering to maintain structural integrity for long periods, without costly interventions. Obviously, these days, nothing need be either invisible or impossible so operators can ‘keep an eye’ on their infrastructure and even undertake work on it using diving services and devices such as underwater ROVs (remotely operated vehicles). ROVs are much more than submarine mounted cameras and are sophisticated pieces of engineering in their own right. Existing infrastructure can be surveyed with ROV mounted survey systems but at a price. ROVs are extremely costly to build and to operate and divers don’t come cheap: plus, while they are working, as likely as not, the installation they are servicing will not be operating, compounding high cost

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with lost production and diminished customer satisfaction. As is often the case, when it comes to offshore repairs and maintenance, prevention is usually better and always less costly than cure. And that would include using components whose design minimises the likelihood that they’ll require frequent interventions.

Renewable As Well As Carbon According to Jason Waldie, Associate Director at energy industry analysts, Douglas-Westwood, speaking at the ‘Subsea Asia Conference’, Kuala Lumpur in June 20119, the production and use of natural gas is set “to soar” in the period to 2021 with deepwater gas identified “to be of growing importance.” Part of the reason for this is the abundance of natural gas available beneath the oceans and part the fact that gas power plants require the lowest capital expenditure for the amount of energy they produce. The subsea offshore energy sector will be growing well into the foreseeable future with producers tackling ever more challenging conditions and depths in order to win every possible drop of carbon-based fuels while longer term renewable resources are still being developed. In this world, cost effective and low maintenance but high reliability components will be increasingly attractive.

The Importance of Renewable Energy Resources to the Subsea Sector Notwithstanding the above, renewable energy resources are also becoming increasingly important for the offshore subsea sector. Their significance for this paper is that they rely heavily on moving parts to convert energy in the environment into usable electricity… and those moving parts rotate around pivot pins. The Royal Institution of Naval Architects (RINA) sums up renewable energy development to date10: “Marine and offshore energy offers the potential to meet a small but significant share of the world’s renewable energy aspirations. However, the maritime environment also provides


many challenges in terms of economics, survivability and reliability of such systems. Offshore wind energy [has] made the most rapid progress and is now starting to move into large scale commercial developments. Wave energy developments have only seen sporadic progress since the 1970s. Tidal and current stream technologies, which began serious development in the 1990s, are now at the prototype and small scale commercial development stage.� The UK Government has a programme to support offshore renewable energy with the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult, managing and supporting innovation in the engineering and technology used in the sector. That engineering will certainly include the ability to perform at optimum levels for long periods with little effect from wear and minimal need for maintenance or repair.

Winds of Change Among the various sources of renewable energy, wind energy is probably the best understood and established but the machines used to harness wind energy are rarely loved. It is one of nature’s contradictions that the places where wind generators function best are often those wild

unspoiled areas of land that people most want to preserve without the intrusion of extremely large white windmills. Because of this, a great deal of effort is going into developing offshore wind energy. In England, for instance, Offshore Wind England aims to establish a national supply chain for offshore wind. Wave energy, as the RINA suggests, has not yet reached a commercial level of development but there are numerous projects underway including a prototype infrastructure device located off Cornwall in south-west England known as the Wave Hub, designed to gather power from various generation systems in the ocean for transmission to shore. The means to harness tidal and current power are also still at an early stage but they will have to be developed and the complex equipment used will have to be sited in subsea offshore locations. With all of these devices, inasmuch as they convert lateral or vertical movement into a rotational force from which energy is generated, pivot pins will be important components in their engineering and, being offshore, the same economic arguments that apply to oil and gas installations will be true for renewable energy installations. | 11


Life After Life Francis Slade, Staff Writer

To an increasing degree, offshore installations and their associated infrastructures and equipment are being operated beyond their originally planned term of life

As ever more remote and difficult to access reserves are exploited, the engineering challenges will become commensurately greater. So, the economic incentive to maximise the value of existing fields by life extension

Hazardous Conditions It is, perhaps, axiomatic to state that offshore installations are hazardous: they are sited in challenging locations, isolated from land-based support and handle hazardous materials. Also, the terms ‘offshore’ and ‘subsea engineering’ cover a range of activities. The term ‘subsea’ identifies technology, equipment and operating methods used in those activities that have to be conducted under water and offshore. However, oceans are not only barriers to be overcome in the exploitation of oil and gas reserves but are increasingly seen either as sources of energy in their own right (wave and tidal power) or the best place to economically harness wind power. Such an intrinsically hostile environment offers a unique challenge for engineers when building and operating what are, essentially, industrial structures, but far from land, on and beneath the surface of the ocean. That said, there is an enormous economic incentive to locate and exploit reserves of energy. So the engineering used, including all moving parts, must be particularly capable not only of withstanding the stresses of the environment, but also of adapting to changing conditions so that they will not require regular or frequent visits from expensive maintenance functions.

Pushing the Frontiers

programmes will be considerable

As ever more remote and difficult to access reserves are exploited, the engineering challenges will become commensurately greater. So, the economic incentive to maximise the value of existing fields by life extension programmes will be considerable. As reported in the article ‘Offshore Oil and Gas Installation—Aging and Life Extension’ in The Journal of Petroleum Technology February 2012 edition11, “When oil and gas prices are high, marginal or technically demanding fields become more financially viable. Also, existing assets with low production rates are able to generate significant profit margins. Advances in technology can affect the financial viability of new field developments…” Everything responds to market demand. “The subsea oil and

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gas market continues to grow at an increasing pace, as oil and gas operators continue to discover reserves in deeper water areas where the only economically viable recovery solution is a subsea development.”.. is how the Infield ‘Subsea Well Intervention Market Report to 2017’12 puts it. Unsurprisingly, the offshore energy industry values quality and longevity in the engineering it employs to match the lifespan of its exploitable assets.

Going On While prevention as opposed to cure reaps enormous rewards in the day-to-day operation of equipment, there is also a longer-term logic that supports durability. Most equipment has a ‘design life’ for which the designer and manufacturer anticipated the equipment having to function. But with operators seeking to extend the working life of equipment to further exploit a reserve or to exploit a reserve that would not be viable if a separate infrastructure had to be built, much equipment is being operated well beyond its design life. That is achievable; but there are conditions, including that components used in the equipment should be built from the outset to operate well for long periods through changing conditions. Many offshore installations in the mature operational areas such as the North Sea are over 30 years old and may be required to operate well into the 21st century supplying oil and gas. It is essential that the infrastructure is able to meet these future demands. As the lives of fields are extended we must pay heed to this longer term view of engineering needed to ensure that infrastructure would be capable of being operated beyond its planned life, if required.

Managing a Need to Maintain Notwithstanding the quality of equipment, maintenance interventions cannot be avoided entirely. “The safety of systems and equipment throughout the operational life of the installation will depend ever more on the maintenance and inspection function being suitable and well


implemented.” That is the conclusion of Lloyd’s Register report ‘FPSO Inspection Repair & Maintenance, Study into Best Practice’13. High quality IRM (Inspection, Repair and Maintenance) is considered a key element in the good running even of well-engineered equipment. But, in the case of IRM, high quality comes at a high cost for offshore operations. There is no question that, where safety is concerned, proper and regular maintenance is unavoidable. But what about those many other situations where the use of engineering that can avoid unnecessary wear and adapt to gradually changing conditions might allow maintenance cycles to work to the requirements of equipment with less frequent maintenance needs? Consider then how much more important it will be to the ever growing inventory of aging but lifeextended equipment. The Journal of Petroleum Technology, February 2012 edition (see above) sums up the situation. “To keep capital and operational expenditures at a minimum, there is an increasing requirement from operators to use

existing infrastructure, and, consequently, there is a trend to use subsea tiebacks to existing platforms. Therefore, platforms become ‘hubs’ and often their operational life is extended. The result is that decommissioning is delayed and equipment that had been maintained at near-minimum levels now requires significant overhaul or replacement to continue service for another 10 to 20 years… Extending the life of existing assets ultimately results in installations operating well beyond their original design life. However, the aging of facilities can have a direct effect on installation integrity and safety… Aging and life extension are major issues for the offshore oil and gas industry… [However,] Aging is not about how old the equipment is; it is about what is known about its condition, how that is changing over time, and how effectively the associated risks are being managed.” The conclusion has to be that engineering that can operate for longer periods without a significant decline in performance or need for maintenance will be of immense value in an offshore sector where costs will always be high. | 13


References: 1

 Lug Wear


Pivot Point




E&P Deepwater spending to reach $35 billion in 2014:




Offshore Technology ‘The Subsea Processing Promise’




Oil and Gas


Jason Waldie at the ‘Subsea Asia Conference’, Kuala Lumpur


RINA, ‘Marine & Offshore Renewable Energy’


The Journal of Petroleum Technology


Subsea Well Intervention Market Report to 2017


Lloyd’s Register report ‘FPSO Inspection Repair & Maintenance, Study into Best Practice’

14 |

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