Finalists announced for annual British subsea awards
Aker Solutions, N-Sea and Saab are in contention for the Subsea Company of the Year award at this year’s Subsea UK Awards, held during Subsea Expo – Europe’s largest subsea focused exhibition and conference.
A selection of the country’s most dynamic and successful subsea businesses have made it on to the final shortlist for the annual awards which seek to recognise companies and individuals who are leading the way in Britain’s £9billion subsea sector. The awards dinner will take place on Wednesday 3rd February at the Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre.
In the Global Exports award category, Flowline Specialists and JDR have been shortlisted and the Innovation for Safety award will see JDR, Fathom Systems and Oil Spill Response Limited compete to take home this coveted accolade.
The shortlist for the Innovation and Technology award comprises Aker Solutions, EC-OG and Innospection.
Nadine Stanistreet of Hughes Sub Surface Engineering, Robert Weeks from JDR Cable Systems and Nicolas Pellerej from OMS Ltd are the individuals short-listed for the Young Emerging Talent award.
This year saw the launch of a new category to recognise small companies that have shown outstanding performance in the subsea sector. Vying for the Small Company of the Year award are Fathom Systems, ITC Hydraulics and Subsea Supplies.
The individual who has made the most outstanding contribution to the subsea sector will be announced on the night of February 3.
Teck Resources Limited (Teck) is the latest company to pilot the use of LNG as a fuel alternative to diesel in high horsepower engines with the conversion of six haul trucks at their Fording River operation in British Columbia.
The vehicles are fueled by a Chart designed and built mobile unit based on the Orca™ platform, which has long been the preferred solution for liquid gas delivery across a wide range of applications, including atmospheric gases for industry, drinks dispense gases at restaurants, as well as LNG fueling.
The Orca™ was delivered in October 2015 and Chart’s scope also included on-site commissioning and training, which went very smoothly.
Teck believes LNG has the potential to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions while reducing fuel costs.
Gazprom Neft completes first 15-stage fracked well in Western Siberia
Gazprom Neft, the oil arm of state-controlled Gazprom, has completed its first ever 15-stage hydraulic fracturing (fracking) operation at Yuzhno-Priobskoye, a field in the Khanty-Mansi autonomous area.
In a statement, the company said that its Gazpromneft-Khantos subsidiary had carried out the operation in order to drill a new well at Yuzhno-Priobskoye. The site is the “first high-volume 15-stage fracked horizontal well” that Gazpromneft-Khantos has brought into production, it said.
Gazprom Neft credited technological innovation for its success at the field, saying that the multi-stage fracking operation had been “made possible through the use of non-ball-and-socket
well completion and stimulation technology.” This technology was used to sink the well to a total depth of 4,200 metres, with horizontal displacement of 760 metres, it said.
“The key feature of the configuration of the horizontal section of the well lies in its allowing well stimulation to continue throughout its entire operation, removing any limitations on the number of fracking operations that can be undertaken,” it added.
Gazprom Neft did not say how much oil the new well was yielding. It did state, though, that output might eventually peak at nearly 550 barrels per day, which represents an improvement in performance. This “[exceeds] comparable figures for lesser multi-stage fracking operations by at least 10%,” it said.
Additionally, the company said, multi-stage fracking will help Gazpromneft-Khantos gain more access to oil that lies within the Bazhenov shale formation. It noted that the Gazprom Neft subsidiary was working at Yuzhno-Priobskoye as part of a wider effort to develop hard-to-access crude reserves.
Vadim Yakovlev, Gazprom Neft’s first deputy CEO, said that the company intended to expand its use of multi-stage fracking operations. “The use of cutting-edge technologies is an absolute priority throughout the entire Gazprom Neft Group,” he stated. “In 2015, in particular, we expect to see group-wide horizontal drilling volumes increasing by 12.5%, to 334 wells, with the number of high-technology wells completed with multistage hydraulic fracking increasing by more than 40% this year, to 238.
Edited by Joe Murphy
FoundOcean completes grouting for Gemini Wind Farm
FoundOcean has successfully completed the grouting of foundations at Gemini Wind Farm on behalf of the main contractor, Van Oord.
The offshore wind farm, situated 85 kilometres north of the Dutch province of Groningen, is made up of 150 wind turbines spanning across 2 sites. The 600 MW wind farm will provide 785,000 homes with renewable energy from 2017 onwards.
Following the continued success of FoundOcean and BASF’s collaboration, the Gemini wind farm project was the first to utilise a new grouting material, MasterFlow 9800.
Van Oord, which led the installation of foundations for the Gemini project, chose MasterFlow 9800 for its unique qualities which enhance productivity and safety.
Having considered operational challenges, which are frequently encountered during offshore operations, it became clear that there was a significant market requirement for an alternative material. For large scale projects, such as Gemini, there was a need for engineered grouts that could be supplied in bulk rather than bags, and effectively mixed to ensure a consistent quality.
Jim Bell, the Managing Director of FoundOcean, highlights the necessity and effectiveness of the product. “FoundOcean recognized a need amongst its customers for a material that could provide high early strength development and low temperature performance, yet also offered increased efficiency, safety and cleanliness.”
The MasterFlow 9800 grout is delivered to the foundation at much higher rates than previously seen with blended materials, resulting in reduced impact on the vessel’s critical path. Alongside its low autogenous shrinkage and excellent early strength development, the material’s ability to be supplied in bulk improves safety and productivity by eliminating the offshore lifting of bags and containers.
MasterFlow 9800 enables the installation contractor community to reassess their procedures in offshore grouting and to consider a new way of working – one which delivers significant and quantifiable improvements in productivity and safety when grouting offshore structures.
Major North Sea projects shelved
Ten big North Sea field developments representing more than one in seven in the region have been shelved as a result of tumbling oil prices.
Eight of the projects are in Norwegian waters – a fact that underlines the challenges and high costs of operating in the country’s often stormy weather conditions and deep waters.
Norway was one of six countries that Wood Mackenzie, an energy consultancy, found to have the most project deferrals, placing it alongside Canada, Angola, Kazakhstan, Nigeria and the US.
The other two are UK developments that contain nearly 500 million barrels of reserves in total, according to estimates. This makes them unusually large finds for the region.
One of the deferred UK projects is BG’s Jackdaw, a high-pressure, high-temperature (HPHT) scheme. BG announced in October 2014 that it had delayed making an investment decision on it and it is now being acquired by Royal Dutch Shell, which has indicated it intends to shrink the former’s North Sea portfolio.
The other delayed UK project is the Rosebank development northwest of Shetland. Even before oil prices started their slide, Chevron warned it might not be as economic as planned.
The UK North Sea will be hit especially hard by crude price falls. Many older fields are at risk of closure in the coming years, while smaller firms may be forced into distress sales in an attempt to raise cash.
“The impact of lower oil prices on company plans has been brutal,” said Angus Rodger, principal analyst, exploration and production research, at Wood Mackenzie. “What began in late 2014 as a haircut to discretionary spend on exploration and pre-development projects has become a full surgical operation to cut out all non-essential operational and capital expenditure.”
Costs have fallen relatively quickly in Europe and there is some consensus that oil prices could start to recover in the second half of this year. This could encourage early movers to take advantage of cost deflation and underused capacity at oil services companies to lead a fresh round of investment in the sector.
Edited by Ryan Stevenson
BP to collect 3-D data from shallow water areas offshore Azerbaijan
BP-Azerbaijan has said it intends to begin a 3-D seismic study of potential hydrocarbon-bearing structures offshore Azerbaijan on March 1.
In a draft document detailing the potential environmental and socio-economic impact of the project, the company said that the study would target a shallow-water licence area located off the southern coast of the Absheron Peninsula.
The geophysical data collected during the survey will supplement the 2-D and 3-D data collected during previous seismic surveys, it said.
“The purpose of the 3-D surveys is to gather geophysical data [that] will be used when planning the exploration and development of the contract area,” BP-Azerbaijan stated. “[The] 3-D seismic survey is scheduled to begin [on] March 1, 2016 and [will be] complete within nine months, [by] November 24, 2016.”
The company said it had identified five priority areas within the 1,900-square km block. These areas lie in 25-metre deep water and may contain productive strata at depths of 3,000- 5,000 metres, it reported.
BP-Azerbaijan’s impact report, which was drawn up by the AECOM consultancy, will be open to public comments and proposals until the end of February 2016.
The company is working under a 23-year production-sharing agreement (PSA) signed in December 2014 and ratified by the Azeri parliament in April 2015. The PSA splits equity in the project 50:50 between BP-Azerbaijan and the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR).
The partners have said they will carry out the project in three stages: preliminary exploration, basic exploration and development and production. They hope to find crude oil in a number of small fields located in waters up to 40 metres deep.
Valeh Aleskerov, the deputy speaker of the Azeri parliament, noted in April 2015 that the project was in line with the government’s exploration strategy, which tasks SOCAR with looking for hydrocarbons in all coastal sections of the country’s section of the Caspian Sea.
Baku sees “the exploration of Paleocene and Mesozoic deposits onshore and in the [Azeri] sector of the Caspian Sea ... as [a] priority” because of “the gradual depletion of oil deposits in [existing] productive reservoirs,” he commented.
Edited by Joe Murphy
Unitel wins mini-LNG work in South Korea
Korea Gas Technology Corp. (KOGASTech) has awarded a front-end engineering and design (FEED) contract to Illinois-based Unitel Technologies for a fleet of mini-LNG plants it intends to build in South Korea, the companies announced last week.
KOGAS-Tech plans to design, build and operate a number of 200 tonne per day LNG mini plants, which will supply the domestic market with fuel for power generation and transportation, according to its new business director, Chul-ho Lee.
One aim of the company is to start distributing LNG to power stations on small islands and on mainland South Korea, to help them switch from oil to gas by 2020. Unitel is charged with finding ways to reduce capital expenditure and operating costs of the mini LNG plants compared with current industry standards.
According to the US company’s president, Ravi Randhava, it has already identified several areas where savings can be made and intends to file a number of patent applications this year.
“We want to optimise the refrigerant cycle and the overall thermodynamics of the system,” according to Hack-Eun Kim, the head of KOGAS-Tech’s development team. “At the same time, we are looking for a high level of flexibility and a wide turndown capability to meet changing demand requirements. State-of-the-art automation will help reduce operating costs, but safety will always be our most critical concern.”
Unitel and KOGAS already have a history of working together, most notably in their joint efforts to demonstrate and commercialise KOGAS’ single-step technology for converting natural gas into dimethyl ether (DME).
KOGAS is South Korea’s only LNG importer and the world’s biggest corporate buyer of LNG. It operates four LNG terminals, plus a countrywide distribution network covering more than 4,240 km. There are signs, though, that South Korea’s demand for LNG is on the wane amid economic stagnation plus the resolution of a raft of problems at nuclear power plants (NPPs).
The country’s imports of LNG fell 11% in 2015, according to Wood Mackenzie.
Edited by Ed Reed
Fears up to a third of US shale oil producers could go bankrupt by 2017
THE downward trend in global oil prices seems to have no end in sight, with both global benchmark Brent crude and US benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude prices falling to levels not seen since 2004.
This time last year, the debate was over whether or not prices would go below US$50 per barrel and how US oil companies would survive. A year on, and prices are now about to dip into the US$20s range.
Against this backdrop Oppenheimer & Co.’s senior oil and gas analyst, Fadel Gheit, told CNBC this week that half of US shale oil producers could go bankrupt before the crude market reaches equilibrium. He said that the “new normal oil price” could be 50-100% above current levels and ultimately sees crude prices stabilising near US$60 per barrel, but it could be more than two years before this happens.
“Half of the current producers have no legitimate right to be in a business where the price forecast even in a recovery is going to be between, say, US$50 [and] US$60. They need US$70 oil to survive,” Gheit said. He added that at the current oil price, companies both large and small – including super-majors – would have to think twice about their dividends. To date, however, most US oil majors have not cut dividends.
Gheit added that US drillers were now spending more than they were making from operations; a situation that he said was unsustainable and would eventually force prices higher. For the past year, many US shale oil producers, particularly smaller companies, have been burning through cash on their balance sheets just to stay in operation and to service debt.
In an even worse scenario, Wolf Research said that up to a third of US oil and gas producers could move towards bankruptcy and restructuring by mid-2017. Law firm Haynes & Boone said that over 30 small US oil companies that collectively owe in excess of US$13 billion had already filed for bankruptcy protection so far during the downturn.
It is thought that many of these companies could survive if oil prices rebound to around US$50 per barrel. However, oil prices are unlikely to reach such a level this year or even the following year according to the more pessimistic forecasts.
There are concerns over China’s economic slowdown, the volatility of its stock market and serious doubts over Beijing’s handling of these growing problems. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia and Russia continue to ramp up production in an effort to protect market share. And with new supplies of Iranian crude, ranging between 500,000 and 1 million barrels per day set to hit the market after Western sanctions against the country have lifted, the supply glut looks likely to continue unabated.
The weakest OPEC members, countries overly reliant on petro-dollars for state coffers and US shale producers alike will all feel the impact.
However, the downward cycle cannot continue forever. The current issue is not the usual “‘lack of supply” scenario that has played out so often in the past, but is one of unprecedented oversupply. It will take these same low prices to finally bring about market equilibrium once again, and more US producers could be forced out of business along the way.
Edited by Anna Kachkova
Trelleborg unveils dedicated swivel stack seal inspection facility
Trelleborg Sealing Solutions has opened a dedicated climate-controlled swivel stack seal inspection facility for the validation of bespoke seals.
The global facility is based in Barendrecht, in the Netherlands, and has been unveiled in a move to help ensure Floating Production Storage and Offloading (FPSO) operators achieve the highest possible standards in seal quality.
The facility provides a temperature-controlled environment to avoid fluctuations in the dimensions of the seals caused by temperature changes, with specialist storage racks allowing the seals to be acclimatized prior to inspection.
A bespoke inspection table has been installed, on which seals up to 3000mm can be measured with special lighting to aid visual inspection.
Trelleborg’s FPSO Focus Group, who are based on site, is made up of a team of experts trained to inspect the specialist seals.
Henk-Willem Sanders, Technical Manager Oil & Gas and FPSO Focus Group leader at Trelleborg Sealing Solutions, said: “The quality of seals for our customers is of the upmost importance and we are continually striving for excellence, which is why we have launched this dedicated seal inspection and validation facility.”
“Typical FPSO seals are from 100mm up to 3000mm in large cross sections. The controlled environment in combination with the fact that large diameter seals can be inspected, gives our customers unrivalled reassurance when selecting a seal partner.”
Lloyd’s Register and Aker Solutions collaborate on subsea efficiency
With this new global framework agreement in place, Norwegian oil services company Aker Solutions can further improve efficiency and uphold their position as forerunner in advanced technologies for the offshore oil and gas industry.
Commenting on the achievement, Lead Group Category Manager, Gaute Fardal from Aker Solutions, said: “We are pleased to have Lloyd’s Register on board as a new Group Frame Agreement supplier to Aker Solutions. Our expectations to the agreement are highly competitive priced services and further enhanced efficiency in our processes and product solutions.”
The contract gives Aker Solutions access to all relevant services from the Lloyd’s Register Group, including inspection, compliance, certification and advisory/consulting services in areas like risk management/HSEQ, engineering dynamics, asset integrity, drilling, wells and reservoirs.
The project builds on Lloyd’s Register’s solid track record of enabling the oil and gas industry to improve efficiency and performance while reducing environmental impact.
The first call off from the contract is already in place: a global project for international quality management system standard ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 (environmental) certification of Aker Solution’s Subsea division. The project will be carried out by LRQA – a division of the Lloyd’s Register Group and a world leading professional assurance services organisation specialising in management systems compliance and expert advice across a broad spectrum of standards, schemes and customised assurance programmes.
“Of special interest is our process for technology qualifications,” said Alme. “This is an important area for a company like Aker Solutions, where new innovations in areas like subsea processing can be critical for tomorrow’s leading oil and gas operators.”
The Technology Qualification offered by Lloyd’s Register provides a route for companies to provide evidence that their equipment will function within specified operational limits and with an acceptable level of confidence. It gives a step-by-step approach on how to develop and operate new technologies in a safe, reliable and environmentally friendly manner.
“Our approach supports a better way to manage costs and the associated risks of bringing new technology to market,” said Alme.
The framework agreement is valid for 3 years with options for extension for a further 2 years.