Understanding, Choice and Maintenance – Oilfield Technology
At Trelleborg, we believe in a consultative and collaborative approach to hose management and lifecycle optimisation. By collaborating with our customers to better understand the environment in which their product will function, advising on how to select the right application, and working together on ongoing maintenance, we have enabled customers to minimize operating expenses, while maintaining confidence that safety will not be compromised in any way. Our Oil & Marine Design Manager David Ponchon discusses this approach in Oilfield Technology Magazine.
Heading into 2017, cautious optimism seems to be the consensus among oil companies. In a recent statement, Tom Ellacott, senior VP of corporate analysis research at Wood Mackenzie, commented, “overall 2017 will be a year of stability and opportunity for oil and gas companies in positions of financial strength…strengthening finances will still be a top priority. Capital discipline, cost reduction and deleveraging will frame corporate strategies in 2017.”
These comments were echoed by Neil Gordon, Chief Executive of Subsea UK, who stated, “no matter what the future holds, we can’t afford to be complacent and slip back into old habits. The changes we make today are for good and must be embedded into everything we do from here on out.”. Trelleborg believes in the need to learn from best practices that have ensured safety and efficiency in 2016, a year in which the industry moved increasingly towards rationalisation, with marginal efficiency gains becoming the norm rather than an aspiration.
This shift in focus has shown that cost reduction and efficiency savings can be achieved without a negative impact on safety. As suppliers, we recommend that this is best achieved by adopting a consultative and collaborative approach to hose management and lifecycle optimisation. By collaborating with our customers to better understand the environment in which their product will function, advising on how to select the right application and working together on ongoing maintenance, we have enabled customers to minimize operating expenses, while maintaining confidence that safety will not be compromised in any way.
This process can be divided into three sections – understanding, choice, and maintenance.
The first step of this collaborative approach is to understand the environment in which the product will function within the oil supply chain. It can be hugely advantageous to take a strategic approach to procurement at the earliest stage of oil and gas projects, to determine the most appropriate technical solutions for the targeted application and design life.
This begins at the design and engineering stage. To accurately assess the impact of environmental and situational conditions, Trelleborg’s R&D team uses prototypes to undergo rigorous mechanical and chemical testing and hydrodynamic analysis to determine material behavior laws, establishing aging models for realistic service conditions as well as a detailed analysis of performance under fatigue. This allows for the creation of high fidelity finite element models (FEM) for each specific hose construction, enabling the rendering of exact hose behavior under complex load combinations and the computing of strains and stresses in any rubber layer or internal reinforcement. Crucially, this work is undertaken whether the project is a new project or replacement, a complete system, or to be installed as part of an existing system.
Various complicating factors need to be factored into this equation. Weather conditions, for example, are often harsh, and equipment can be put to the test in the most extreme environments; selecting the right hose can ensure the highest safety standards while not compromising on ensuring an optimized service life.
In addition, the integration of hoses with other installation technology, such as breakaway couplings or reeling apparatus, is essential in ensuring safety. Hoses need to be specifically engineered to be easy to install, with minimal requirements for the management of integration with other systems. This can be complicated by the fact that increasing numbers of facilities are either being used or planned for use beyond the scheduled design life. Of the 6700 platforms in operation around the world, on average 30% have been online for over 20 years, and many are operating beyond their designed lifecycle – which, in turn, poses risk. There are currently few international industrial standards for evaluation of design life extension. In addition, the practice in this area is not uniform. Given the lack of standardisation on this issue, suppliers and customers need to collaboratively share information to arrive at solutions together.
Hose selection is an area where a ‘one size fits all’ approach simply does not work. Once suppliers and customers have properly analyzed the environment in which transference will occur, it’s then a matter of selecting the correct solution. Trelleborg’s hose solutions, for example, cover a range of environments – from near-shore to the harshest, most challenging conditions in oceans around the world. It is essential to identify the right choice of hose for the right environment to ensure less degradation and truly effective life-cycle optimisation.
We believe it is important to offer the broadest range of solutions to the market, including both nipple hoses and unique nippleless hoses, as well as options of single carcass, double carcass with leak detection system and dual carcass hoses. All hoses are designed, manufactured and tested in accordance with the GMPHOM 2009 guideline or API spec 17K standard using fatigue computation.
In recent years, as the need to operate in near shore, low cost of extraction environments has increased, demand patterns have altered accordingly. Double carcass nipple hoses, for example, have become more prevalent given the technology’s all-purpose applicability. This solution exemplifies the choice that oil companies and oil and offshore services companies require from hoses. With much of the same DNA as TRELLINE, a bonded custom-built flexible hose with a long service life certified by hydrodynamic and fatigue analysis, and the REELINE, optimised for reeling applications, the SEALINE nipple hose ensures that a holistic approach to hose selection can be made.
Again, it’s hard to predict where 2017 will take the industry. Depending on oil prices, companies will either prioritize marginal gains in areas with low cost of extraction, or head out further offshore. Either way, choice and flexibility from suppliers is key. Regardless of where the sector moves, understanding that options exist for all environments is vital.
Perhaps the most significant need for collaboration, and an area that is vital to keeping up the highest safety standards, comes after purchase and installation; maintaining and servicing the equipment.
It is essential that suppliers support projects throughout their execution to ensure that highest safety standards are upheld, as well as guaranteeing the benefits of proper lifecycle management. This approach includes on-site inspection and testing for requalification, hose maintenance and inspection programs, and the abilty to provide on-site repairs on a global basis to ensure that hoses are not only performing correctly, but are meeting the required standards in safety and quality. This can even extend to undertaking specific investigation programs. These may include inspections, tests on-site or in the factory such as OCIMF and burst tests, or aging analysis of the components such as adhesion tests and elastomer property analysis.
This ensures that products function at the optimum level for the longest possible safe operational lifespan – reducing the amount of time and money spent on maintenance, which can contribute to a significant proportion of operating expenditure.
2016 has proven that regardless of market fluctuations, good lessons can be learned in the oil and gas sector. At the most basic level, hose management is risk management, and risk management is cost management. It’s vital that purchasers and suppliers work together to guarantee that the right tools for the job are properly selected and looked after to deliver cost and reliability benefits, no matter what 2017 has in store.
Source: Oilfield Technology Magazine
James Hermary heads the development of LNG flexible hose solutions within Trelleborg Fluid Handling Solutions, leading a multidisciplinary design and testing team, building a full range of innovative marine LNG transfer solutions based on the Cryoline LNG hose.