Gulf of Mexico oil and gas production reliant on Sheffield engineering

Paul Boughton
Sheffield Forgemasters International Limited (SFIL) now boasts a worldwide supply of more than 50,000 tonnes of offshore castings including pad-eyes, riser-baskets and Rotolatch mooring products and lifting components which are used to install vast offshore platforms.

For over 25 years, the 200-year-old engineering specialist has been the leading provider of cast steel components to the offshore industry, many of which are used to secure multi-thousand tonne processing platforms in the hostile waters of the Gulf of Mexico and the North Sea.
Paul Mockford, design director at Vulcan SFM, SFIL’s subsidiary company which handles offshore contracts, said: “Amongst the castings we produce are high-strength mooring components which permanently tether offshore platforms in some of the harshest weather conditions in the world.

“In such applications, the client cannot afford to take chances with these safety-critical components as the loads they are subjected to are vast. For example, Vulcan has manufactured lifting points that allow a 10,000 tonne platform deck to be lifted into place with just four points of contact.
“Under such circumstances, the potential cost of single component failure in terms of financial loss or human life, would be unimaginable.”
The Gulf of Mexico is one of the largest single sources of oil and gas supply to the U.S. market and has one of the world’s highest concentrations of offshore platforms, which makes SFIL a key supplier to this industry.
Paul added: “Supplying safety-critical castings to the offshore sector is a core service of Vulcan SFM. We carry out the detailed design of these items and work very closely with the platform designer to ensure that our components will withstand the huge loads placed on them.”
The pad-eyes allow chains to be attached to piles, which secure the floating platform to the sea bed. Vulcan SFM has recently developed an innovative pad-eye design which does not require a shackle to fix the chain in place, further increasing the strength of tethering systems.
SFIL’s offshore products have a track record and non-failure rate which is unmatched by other suppliers to the industry, resulting from an extensive research, design, product development and testing programme.
Alongside its supply to oil and gas producers in the Gulf of Mexico, Vulcan SFM secured a £1.2m contract with Petrobras in Brazil for its P56 platform, located off the coast of Rio de Janeiro, and contracts worth more than £4.7m to provide structural lifting castings for the North Sea oil rigs of Valhall and Buzzard.

It has also recently announced a £1.3m contract to provide nine sets of Rotolatch mooring components to Oil States Industries for use off the coast of Angola.

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