Lower prices and a bearish market have seen cost reduction move up the agenda of all companies in the oil and gas industry, regardless of their position within the supply chain.
While there is no simple solution to project completion time or related costs, experience suggests that the more time is spent during onshore planning, the higher the likelihood the project will come in on budget. As such, international offshore construction firm FoundOcean is a firm believer in planning ahead.
Expect the unexpected
All offshore companies plan for the things that can be controlled, and have contingencies for those that cannot. Time is a key contributor to uncontrollable costs. Detailed operational procedures coupled with schedule-planning means that time offshore will be efficiently used.
Again, experience shows that offshore, one should expect the unexpected. The ability to plan multiple contingencies will always offer the project a much greater chance of staying on schedule. To do this effectively, anticipating which problems are most likely to occur is something that only experience can teach.
Additionally, the harsh environment in which contractors work puts added pressure on how personnel and equipment perform.
In a recent offshore tidal turbine foundation project, the installation contract was originally awarded to an onshore civil engineering company who had extensive experience of installing foundations for onshore renewables projects. By choosing a contractor from within the same industry, but without the offshore experience, the project fell behind schedule by some months. The developer then approached an offshore installation contractor, who in turn appointed FoundOcean.
Working together, the two companies mobilised and installed the foundation. From initial contact to demobilisation, the project was completed in just 20 days.
Integrated project schedules
Developing an annual schedule of works, which includes multiple projects in one mobilisation, can benefit all companies within the supply chain. This type of work schedule is best led by the developer, as the latter has a clear picture of all the projects in its pipeline.
Work in the same region can be grouped into a series of mini-projects within one larger scope of work, encouraging contractors to bid more competitively for a high-value project than for a series of lower value contracts.
This approach allows companies to allocate both personnel and equipment to projects better, ensuring that people with the right skillsets are deployed with the most appropriate equipment for the full project duration. This reduces the need to load and unload heavy equipment, set and unset sea fastenings, and redesign deck plans for each project.
Short-term gain vs. long-term pain
FoundOcean recently completed three projects where localised seabed scour had occurred around a jacket structure. In all instances, the hydrodynamic loading was causing the crown-shim welded jackets to move about the driven piles. This movement could be felt in the topsides and was expected to reduce the life of the jackets, had it not been rectified.
The solution was a two-stage fix: first, a donut-shaped fabric formwork was installed and grouted under and around each mudmat. The grout bag would act as a support for the mudmat and form a plug for the leg pile annuli later on. After the fabric formwork had cured, the remaining void was filled with grout to ensure even weight distribution. Next, a cement grout was injected into the leg pile annuli to strengthen the connection and eliminate jacket movement.
This type of remedial work is not uncommon in the oil and gas sector, and is a result of the cost-benefit analysis of one installation method over another i.e. crown-shim welded against the grouted method of securing structures to the seabed. However, these real-life examples are a clear indication that sometimes the more expensive option can be best, especially when one considers the associated costs which can be incurred when returning to undertake complicated repairs at a later stage in the asset’s life.