Making A Splash

Louise Davis

Louise Davis presents the latest innovations from the subsea sector.

Subsea engineering is one of the most challenging parts of the entire oil & gas sector. Nothing about it is easy: from product design, logistics through to deployment and sourcing skilled personnel, every step is complex. But for those pioneering the solutions discussed below, it is a highly lucrative (and likely satisfying) area to specialise in. It’s also one that ripe for innovation – particularly in terms of adopting modern, digital-based solutions. Here, we round up a selection of recent technologies and approaches that are impressing those working in this tricky part of the industry.

Diving In

Aberdeen-headquartered Decom Engineering is developing a new, lighter Chopsaw capable of cutting piping and infrastructure in excess of 30” following a successful project on the Pioneering Spirit heavy-lift vessel on behalf of offshore contractor Allseas.

Decom was part of the project team commissioned to remove Repsol Norge’s 30,000-tonne Gyda platform in the North Sea – providing cutting expertise to safely remove conductors from the seabed.

The decommissioning specialist’s C1-24 Chopsaw conducted clean cuts on 20” conductors as part of a wider campaign to remove and transport the Gyda’s platform jacket to Aker Solution’s disposal yard in Norway.

Conductor removal is a new market for Decom, and following the Gyda workscope the firm has invested in developing an updated Chopsaw that will be manufactured primarily from aluminium and be capable of operating in more restricted spaces.

Sean Conway, Decom’s managing director, says: “The lessons learned from working on the Gyda project were extremely valuable, and we appreciate Allseas’ willingness to support new technologies and young innovative companies.”

Out Of Africa

In other recent news from the decommissioning sector, Angola has seen Africa’s first offshore oil platform decommissioning underway as EQS (Environment Quality Services) successfully deploys its Saab Seaeye Falcon for determining safer upcoming decommissioning operations.

Dubai-based EQS assesses the integrity of offshore structures using its Falcon for visual inspection and image gathering.

The range of offshore structures inspected to assess integrity includes a platform (jacket), wellhead, protection dome, pipelines and umbilical.

“The Falcon supports us in our aim to fulfil specific works in a safe and cost-effective manner by delivering accurate and relevant information,” says Carlos Rodrigues, CTO of EQS.

The Falcon is also proving a winning strategy for Hyprops Nigeria; the firm has chosen it as the best robotic vehicle resource for increasing its long-term footprint in Nigeria.

Record-Breaking Results

Hitachi Energy has begun testing on the world’s most powerful 24MVA subsea transformer, which will be supplied to OneSubsea, the subsea technologies, production and processing systems business of Schlumberger.

The tests will involve submerging the 55-tonne subsea transformer into the harbour basin to monitor its thermal behaviour and pressure compensation system, as well as ensure its reliability in subsea conditions.

The transformers form part of a large contract awarded to Hitachi Energy for the supply of two subsea Oceani 1 transformers, two input transformers, two step-up transformers and a common step-down distribution transformer. Once tested, the subsea transformers will be submerged off the Norwegian coast in waters to a depth of about 850m and will power the OneSubsea multiphase compression system for the Shell Ormen Lange field in the Norwegian Sea.

Pioneering Pipeline Project

In another record-breaking project, Pipeline technology specialist Stats Group has been commissioned by UAE-headquartered oil and gas EPC contractor National Petroleum Construction Company (NPCC), a subsidiary of National Marine Dredging Company, on behalf of a National Operating Company, to provide pipeline isolation, hot tapping and plugging services to the world’s largest diameter subsea pipeline intervention project.

The project is the result of Stats Group’s long-term commitment to support localisation in the Gulf region. It employs more than 80 people and has facilities in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Muscat, Oman, and Doha, Qatar.

The scope of work will include the hot tapping and double block and bleed isolation of multiple pipelines with diameters ranging from 42” up to 56” in the Middle East region, using Stats’ SureTap hot tapping machines and its BISEP technology.

Special Delivery

In subsea vehicle news, Osbit, the UK-based specialist offshore equipment supplier, has successfully delivered an advanced subsea trenching vehicle to Luxembourg vessel operator Jan De Nul.

The high-powered vehicle, named Swordfish, is a purpose-built cable burial tool for the efficient protection of subsea cables that will be used on current and future wind farm projects.

Swordfish is powered by 1,200kW of subsea electrical power combination of direct drive and hydraulic distribution, to provide operators with maximum versatility when applying power to bury cables in the ocean.

Boasting an array of smart features, Swordfish can be quickly reconfigured into a variety of settings, enabling the vehicle to tackle a wide variety of soil conditions found across planned windfarms and export routes.

Thanks to its high power, Swordfish can bury the cables deeper and at higher progress rates. And via its innovative mechanical chain cutting configuration, it can also tackle more challenging soil conditions, including hard clays up
to 400 kPa.

Acquisition Strategy

Finally, in subsea business news, Ashtead Technology has acquired Hiretech. Established in 2011, Hiretech is a management-owned, Aberdeenshire-based equipment rental, service and maintenance company serving the international offshore renewables, decommissioning, and conventional energy markets. Through its multi-purpose fleet of marine and subsea equipment rental assets and skilled personnel, the business boasts an excellent offshore renewable and decommissioning-focused support services offering, which the group will seek to leverage to meet growing global customer demand.

Hiretech is Ashtead Technology’s seventh acquisition in the last five years and follows the group’s acquisition of WeSubsea in September 2022.

Commenting on the news, Allan Pirie, Ashtead Technology’s CEO, said: “We are delighted to announce the completion of this transaction and welcome new colleagues to the Ashtead Technology team. Hiretech has an excellent reputation and strong heritage of delivering high-performance equipment and services to the offshore energy sector and has been a key supplier to us in recent years. This acquisition provides strong synergies through vertical integration of the supply chain and meaningfully expands our business by adding complementary capabilities to strengthen our mechanical solutions service line and deliver an enhanced offering to our customers.”