The Magazine for Underwater Professionals

Jul/Aug 2019


Society for Underwater Technology

Five years on from the Wood Review, what has changed in the UKCS?

A very interesting and informative Lunch and Learn was hosted by Ince Gordon Dadds and chaired by Keith Broughton. Gunther Newcombe, director of operations at the Oil & Gas Authority (OGA), returned to the SUT London and South of England Branch to present, then discuss the role of the OGA and the recent trends in the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS) offshore sector.

The historical context being that, in 2013 and despite Brent Crude prices around $100/bbl, the UKCS offshore sector was in crisis. The Wood Review was commissioned by the UK government to understand the challenges and make recommendations.  As a result, the OGA was set up with the remit to regulate, influence and promote.

Gunther’s presentation focused mostly on the influence and promote areas.  However, in terms of regulation, three fiscal measures were described as having positive results – reduced overall tax burden, assessment of wider benefits (not just direct tax revenue) and agreement of a fair return on investment.

Methods of influence and promote have in the majority used “carrots” but also occasionally “sticks”.   Methods such as benchmarking and sharing of best practice, collaboration, area developments plans, open access to the National Data Repository, setting of stewardship expectations, and communication of technology best-practice and investment in new technology have contributed to success in the sector. Production decline has halted, and in fact a small increase has been seen. Production efficiency has increased and OPEX has reduced. However, exploration and appraisal has reduced, posing a threat to the future, so the OGA is enhancing the focus on high risk/high volume reserves.

Further looking to the future, Gunther described the OGA’s emphasis on facilitation, only intervening by exercising their powers as a last resort. The energy transition including gas-to-wire, offshore electrification, carbon transport and storage, and wind power is very much on the OGA’s agenda, as is digital transformation.

Reflecting the OGA’s open-door mantra, Gunther engaged with delegates in an extensive Q&A session. Topics covered included demonstration of value, receptiveness to new ideas, collaboration versus competition, area plans, operators’ technology plans, promotion of the UK supply chain overseas, UK government carbon capture plans, small pools and even, who pays OGA’s wages? All delegates were grateful for the candid and friendly manner in which this took place, and left content and informed.  And well fed and watered, thanks to another fine spread laid on by Ince Gordon Dadds.

SUT and MTS announce agreement to collaborate

The Marine Technology Society (MTS) and the Society for Underwater Technology have entered into a three-year Memorandum of Agreement to explore ways to work together to the benefit of their collective membership.

“In looking at our organisations, we find that we share similar missions that could complement each other,” said Rick Spinrad, president of the Marine Technology Society. “We are working with SUT to explore collaborations on new chapters and initiatives that could extend our reach and expand our memberships.”

Both the SUT and MTS focus on the facilitation, development, and application of marine science and technology for purposes of exploration, understanding, and sustainable use of the ocean and its resources. From their origins in the USA and the UK, the MTS and SUT have grown into international organisations with similar levels of individual and corporate membership and with a complementary geographical presence.

“The opportunity for the Marine Technology Society and SUT to work together across areas of common interest provides an exciting opportunity to enhance the services provided to our members,” said Ralph Rayner, Society for Underwater Technology president. “Under the terms of our Memorandum of Agreement, we are already pursuing a number of joint initiatives allowing us to better deliver membership benefits.”

Founded in 1963, the Marine Technology Society is a nonprofit international community of ocean engineers, technologists, policymakers and educators that provides the ocean community with forums for the exchange of information and ideas through international conferences, its peer-reviewed MTS journal, newsletters and website.

Riser technology

The SUT Perth Branch technical evening Advancements in Riser Technology at the Parmelia Hilton was opened by branch chairman Rex Hubbard and chaired by committee member Stuart Higgins.
The event was kindly sponsored by the evening’s presenters, Baker Hughes, 2H Offshore and EOM Offshore.

The presentation Flexible Riser Life Extension with Innovative Methods was delivered by Christian Wiebe, principle engineer with 2H, dealing with change, trust and control associated with the design, modelling and testing of flexible risers under corrosion and fatigue operating environment including water filled or flooded annuli. The presentation provided examples of operational changes which impact the “as designed” performance and the modelling and analysis techniques to assess those changes. When combined with dissection, testing techniques and monitoring techniques – integrity limits can be re-established and/or confirmed. To streamline the often time consuming and numerically intensive process of fatigue assessment of flexible risers; a neural network approach was also presented.

Advancements in Mooring Riser Technology – the Elastomeric Solution was presented by Mark Masurra, general manager of Bluezone Group, on behalf of David Aubrey at short notice. Mark acknowledged that he was not the subject matter expert but would table any questions on the presentation for David to respond in writing. Mark presented a new taut/semi-taut elastomeric mooring line which is also capable of transmitting power and signals via integrated shielded conductors. The application of the mooring system was suited to not only watch circle and noise sensitive requirements but also where mooring line contact damage to the seabed had to be avoided. Mark provided multiple examples where elastomeric solutions have been implemented for a decade or more, providing compliance, power generation, and data transfer within a rugged mooring element standing up to tens of millions of cycles of stretch. These elastomeric solutions have been designed for oceanographic moorings, environmental observation systems, boat moorings, aquaculture/fisheries, offshore energy, and other marine applications.

The final presentation, MAPS Integrity Management and T-Insert for Flow Induced Vibration, was provided by Jess Zlokich, lead engineer of flexible systems at Baker Hughes. The presentation initially focused on the company-developed wire integrity monitoring tool (MAPS) which monitors the residual and applied wire stress to detect “stress displacements” indicating wire failure. The system can detect single wire failures in both inner and outer layers and can be deployed from the hang-off termination through the splash zone (i.e. the most likely point of failure).

Also presented was Baker Hughes’s newly developed T-shaped spiral insert into the flexible riser carcass layer, called Flexinsert, which helps to prevent flow induced vibration prevalent in application of high velocity dry gas applications. Given the regions large rate gas developments this offers the potential to either reduce the riser diameter or increase the throughput for a given riser diameter. Although this vibration does not affect the integrity of the flexible pipe, it can cause failure of the rigid topside and subsea structures.

After each presentation, there were questions from the floor which allowed the presenters to provide some detailed insights into their presentations. The presentations and whole evening were well received by the 103 attendees.

Thanks go to the three presenters that volunteered their time to speak at the event, in particular Mark Musarra, who stepped in a very short notice to present on behalf of David Aubrey. David could not attend due to an unavoidable flight delay.

Stuart Higgins





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