Within a couple of weeks a huge 18,000 tonne steel jacket for the Miller platform will be sailed from Nigg Bay into the North Sea, more than a month late and millions of pounds over budget.Yet the event will be hailed as a great engineering success by client British Petroleum and contractor Highlands Fabricators.An extra £50 million on a total platform construction programme of £400 million has been spent on modification in the wake of the Piper Alpha disaster. Design and engineering work for the Miller platform was well advanced when Piper Alpha exploded with the loss of 167 lives of July 7, 1988.Nevil JOnes, BP's Miller project manager, said: 'After that we had to preguess Lord Cullen's inquiry findings.'Additional safety modifications raised topside weight by 2,300 tones to 29,000 tonnes. Much of the added weight came from the decision to further segregate topside modules to protect against blast.An extra £3 million was spent strengthening and reinforcing the steel jacket.Because blast wall technology was virtually non-existent for offshore needs BP asked four firms to draw up blast wall designs.Together blast wall and passive fire protection measures raised costs by £17 million. Subsea isolation valves cost a further £6 million.
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9 May 1991CNPLUS
North Sea oil and gas projects worth some £2,400 million got the formal go-ahead from Energy Secretary John Wakeham on Tuesday.The projects are Chevron's Alba oil field, Amoco's Everest and Lomond gas fields, and the central area transmission system which will carry gas to Teesside where it will fire a new power station.Mr Wakeham told the Offshore Technology Conference in Houston on Tuesday that the announcements were 'a positive indicator of the continuing potential of the United Kingdom continental shelf'.UIE Scotland already has a £60 million contract to fabricate the Lomond platform, while the Everest platform has gone to RGC Offshore. Highland Fabricators has the £53 million contract for three jackets for the two platforms and the CATS riser.Chevron is expected to develop a fixed drilling, production and quarters platform in the northern part of the Alba field, with a second platform five years later. Peak production in the year 2000 should be 100,000 barrels a day. Total capital spend on Alba is estimated at £1,300 million.Mr Wakeham told the conference that environmental responsibilities and safety are the two main challenges facing the oil industry.He warned that alternative sources of energy, particularly solar technology, will mean the industry must devote more resources to environmentally-responsible development.The new duty to apply risk assessment to operations - made following the Piper Alpha disaster - would be 'no easy option for oil companies', he said.
18 March 1999
14Jun91 SPAIN: ASTANO WINS CONTRACT FROM CHEVRON UK FOR ALBA NORTHERN OIL PLATFORM FLOATING STORAGE UNIT.
13 June 1991CNPLUS
Spanish firm Astano has been awarded an £80 million contract by Chevron UK for the floating storage unit for the Alba Northern platform.This is the last of the major contracts to be awarded for the £1,300 million Alba development.It is also the second big contract to be fabricated outside Britain as a result of increasing competition from overseas.The Alba field is 210km north-east of Aberdeen in the North Sea.Work will start this summer with delivery expected in August 1993.The 125,000 tonne vessel will store 825,000 barrels and have the appearance of an oil tanker.It will be permanently anchored to the sea bed by a turret mooring system. The vessel will rotate freely around the turret, like a weather vane.Crude oil from the platform will be pumped into the storage vessel via a 3km pipeline of 30cm diameter. It will enter the vessel through a riser in the turret mooring.Oil will be off-loaded into a shuttle-tanker, moored 60m away, for delivery to refineries in north-west Europe.The storage vessel, which can accommodate 57 people, is the first of its type to be purpose-built for the United Kingdom sector of the North Sea. The completed vessel will be towed from Spain in summer, 1993.Fabrication of the jacket and accommodation module has stayed in the UK. Highland Fabricators won the £60 million jacket contract last month. Work will begin this autumn for completion in spring 1993. The eight-legged steel structure will weigh 17,000 tonnes and stand in about 140m of water. Slots will be provided for 24 wells.Consafe Engineering will also start work this autumn on its £20 million contract for the 2,000 tonne accommodation module for 114 people.Consafe has also won the £1 million contract for the template.Meanwhile, Dutch construction yard Grootint has started work on its £56 million contract to build the integrated deck module.The £30 million installation contract went to Saipem UK - the British subsidiary of the Italian state-owned Ente Nazionalle Idrocarburi. Saipem will install the template later this year with piling, jacket and topsides construction following in 1993.Chevron expects production from the Alba field to begin in January 1994 and estimates that about 400 million barrels of oil are recoverable.
14Dec90 UK: MARATHON OIL GETS GO AHEAD FOR DEVELOPMENT OF EAST BRAE OIL FIELD IN THE NORTH SEA. (Marathon Oil is owned by US Steel.)
14 December 1990CNPLUS
The Department of Energy has approved the £850 million development of Marathon Oil's East Brae field.It is the first North Sea project to be approved since the Cullen report on offshore safety.Fabrication packages together worth about £150 million will now go ahead, with the lion's shares going to Trafalgar House companies RGC of Methil and Redpath Offshore of Middlesborough.RGC will fabricate the 9,300 tonne jacket, together with almost 4,300 tonnes of piles.Redpath will fabricate accommodation, drilling and compression packages.Fabrication of the jacket and topsides will take place between early 1991 and mid-1993, but some integrated module support framework starts this month.Press Offshore's Wallsend yard, in Tyne and Wear, will construct the £40 million subsea template and integrated module support frame.Installation of the drilling template is planned from the middle of next year, with platform installation in mid-1993.Detailed design of the jacket is being carried out by Brown and Root Vickers. Topsides design is by Matthew Hall. Both will be completed by September 1991.The first oil is due by late 1993, with gas compression available early in 1994.
17 July 2003
25 April 1991CNPLUS
Until recently it was widely assumed that our self-sufficiency from oil production in the North Sea would be lost by the early 1990s, and that production would fall steadily thereafter. Now it is clear that Britain will remain a major oil and gas producer until well into the next century, says Energy Secretary, John Wakeham.This is good news for a UK offshore supply industry that had quickly to invent itself in response to the urgent demands of the offshore market. It is ironic that as the UK construction industry continues to experience a recession, its offshoot in the North Sea is now booming.Since exploration first began on the UK continental shelf 27 years ago, UK suppliers and contractors have won more than £31,000 million out of the £43,000 million worth of orders placed in the North Sea. In consequence, the UK now has the second largest offshore industry in the world.British companies are at the leading edge in virtually all aspects of oil and gas technology and have a particularly high reputation for their expertise in construction and fabrication.Design and engineering techniques have contributed greatly to the success of Britain's offshore industry. Our manufacturing base, which includes pumps, gas turbines, electrical power and distribution, control systems and instrumentation, pressure vessels, heat exchangers and valves, has evolved rapidly in the face of advanced technology demands from offshore operators.Major advances have been continually made in sub-sea engineering in logging techniques, and in inspection, maintenance and repair. Refurbishment opportunities on the 150 or so existing North Sea installations are providing significant market opportunities, which the UK supplies industry is targeting.Prospects for the offshore oil and gas industry look increasingly buoyant. Last year, exploration and appraisal activity set new records, and the value of new projects approved involved committing expenditure of £4,800 million - 50 per cent up on the previous record of £3,200 million in 1988.Also eighteen significant new offshore discoveries were announced during 1990 and others will follow.The response of oil companies to the Twelfth and the Frontier Rounds of offshore licensing, now being evaluated by the Energy Department, shows a high level of commitment.More immediately, the recently-published NEDO report of oil company capital intentions indicates that spending is likely to be running at around £5,000 million in both 1991 and 1992 - almost 50 per cent up on 1989 level.However, because of this boom, there is now evidence of capacity constraints, not only in the UK yards but also in Europe. That is likely to bring new entrants into the market, particularly from Europe. But I remain confident that if the UK industry can keep its competitive edge, it is capable of retaining its lead in the UK continental shelf.The world market is huge. It is estimated at around £30,000 million-£36,000 million and could be worth half as much again by the end of the century. That represents a massive opportunity for the UK industry, whose current share of the available market is about £2,000 million - and growing.A crucial issue for the industry is safety. The UK offshore industry has spent or committed £900 million installing emergency shutdown valves and sub-sea valves since the Piper Alpha disaster. But it is still too early to estimate the final costs that it will incur in implementing all the measures recommended in Lord Cullen's Report.One of Lord Cullen's principal recommendations was that responsibility for offshore safety should be transferred to the Health and Safety Executive and the Government has accepted this. Since April 1, 1991, the Secretary of State for Employment has been responsible for offshore safety.The Health and Safety Executive, under the direction of the Health and Safety Commission, will be responsible for advising him on the legislation needed to implement Lord Cullen's recommendations. And considerable progress is being made in developing a new approach on safety cases in line with Lord Cullen's recommendations.This progress towards a new safety regime has enabled the industry to begin to look forward again - with confidence for the future. A second peak in North Sea oil output is now widely expected by around the middle of this decade. And as gas production is also expected to be growing quickly during this period, combined oil and gas output from our offshore sector now look set to hit anew peak by the mid-1990s.
26Apr91 UK: OIL COMPANIES INCREASE SPENDING ON NORTH SEA INSTALLATIONS TO ADVANTAGE OF OFFSHORE CONTRACTORS. (1 OF 3)
25 April 1991CNPLUS
The British offshore fabrication industry has apparently never had it so good.The UK Offshore Operators Association (UKOOA) says North Sea oil exploration companies spent £3,700 million on new installations last year. This year they plan to spend £4,700 million.Oil companies' spending is divided between design, fabrication, and installation. UK design engineers and fabricators who make the jackets, support structures, topsides and platforms that carry the accommodation and drilling modules get the lion's share of the work. Installation is mainly carried out by large derrick barges owned by specialist Dutch contractors.Overseas oil exploration companies are encouraged to use British fabricators by the Offshore Supplies Office, the marketing arm of the Department of Energy. This approach created conditions that favoured development of the UK offshore supplies industry.Christopher Ryan, external affairs director of the UKOOA, explains: 'At the moment we have a full and fair opportunities policy in the North Sea sector. As a result, British companies have acquired about 80 per cent of the North Sea contracts.'But even with such a large market share, British industry still has a massive amount of spare capacity. Denis Brown, secretary of the UK Offshore Manufacturers and Contractors Association (UKOMCA) reported: 'Overall, our members have been working something in the order of 40 per cent of their potential capacity over the past three years. Some have been working to full or near full capacity while other members have been operating on little more than a care and maintenance basis.'The boom in offshore fabrication is gathering pace and some British companies are expanding to meet an expected upsurge in demand.Wimpey-owned fabricator SLP has expanded its capacity by taking over two fabrication yards in Teesside over the past year, one previously operated by Davy, the other owned by Wessoe. This has given SLP the capability of producing larger topside modules up to 10,000 tonnes load out weight, as well as small jackets suitable for the southern North Sea.Bill Nicholson, SLP's business development director, reckons his company has the capacity for more large projects. 'We have four major accommodation modules and a large drilling module on our books at the moment. But we have the management infrastructure in place to handle at least two more major projects and in the present climate foresee no problem in recruiting other grades of personnel.Sid Fudge, managing director of Trafalgar House Offshore and chairman of the UK Offshore Manufacturers and Contractors Association, reports that 'current order books are extremely healthy, with work for both the ROL and RGC yards stretching into 1993'.But, he adds: 'Both yards are looking for further work to begin during 1991. Trafalgar House Offshore does have spare capacity on the Clyde.'Jacket and topside fabricator, McDermott Scotland, of Ardersier, on the Moray Firth, near Inverness, is also looking for new orders.Employment relations manager Ronnie Matthieson says: 'We have got a relatively full order book until 1992 but we are looking for more orders now to maintain our capacity from 1992 onwards.'In spite of the spare capacity in the UK, some contracts have gone to European fabrication yards. When Bouygues-owned Clydeside fabricator UIE recently turned down a contract from Chevron because it had a better offer from Amoco, the order went abroad.Some exploration companies are going to Spain, Portugal and Holland, for example, to obtain a more competitive price. Continental fabricators can compete in the market for topsides, but jackets are more likely to be manufactured in the UK to minimise towing and installation costs.One company that will be competing hard for orders over the coming years is John Laing, whose Graythorpe yard recently saw the completion of the Ravenspurn gravity structure, the first major concrete platform in the UK sector of the North Sea for more than a decade.But like other UK yards, Graythorpe is not working to full capacity. The concrete gravity structure was viable for a field where the sea bed soil conditions were uncertain. But steel continues to dominate the southern North Sea.
7 October 1993
Concrete proposal Consultant W S Atkins has developed software which, it claims, is a major advance in the design of prestressed and reinforced concrete structures. More slender and economical structures could result from its application.Previous computer modelling software provided only partial analysis of designs, says the company, forcing engineers to over-design to be sure of a structure's integrity.Using the new software, called CONCRETE, Atkins says design engineers can analyse efficiently for the first time the full spectrum of in-plane and bending forces acting on structures as diverse as offshore platforms, bridges, and coastal defences.Lead developer of the software Trevor Hodgson, of Atkins Engineering Software, says: 'The results of CONCRETE's analysis enables designers to determine safety margins more accurately and to optimise designs through structural resizing. Weight savings and construction cost reductions are likely as a result.'The software is already being used by Mobil North Sea, Shell Expro and Lloyd's Register. It is based on finite element analysis, in which Atkins specialises, its ASAS software having analysed more than half of the North Sea's jacket structures.It is presently being used to assess the condition of existing North Sea structures such as Beryl Alpha, the world's first deep-water oil production platform installed in 1974. Beryl Alpha was the first of the Condeeps and is planning an extension of some 5,000 tonnes to her topsides. CONSTRUCTION NEWS
27 February 1992
Maintenance crews in the southern North Sea will face a greater risk of accidents because of moves to automate gas platforms, claims offshore union MSF.Virtually all the oil companies operating in the southern basin are drawing up plans to remove workers from some platforms.MSF regional organiser Roger Spiller believes that up to 1,000 workers may be laid off in the next two to four years as a result.Oil and gas companies favour demanning platforms because it reduces exposure of workers to risk and cuts safety spending.Mr Spiller said: 'This is fine for catering staff and helideck crews.''But the oil companies ignore the increased exposure risk of maintenance workers.'These gangs will have to spend more time in helicopters flying to satellite platforms for routine work.'Landing and take off is one of the most dangerous operations offshore.'MSF hopes the new draft regulations issued this week to improve safety regulations offshore could solve the problem.But it will depend on how the Health and Safety Executive translates the proposed regulations due to come into force next year.The draft regulations implement 30 of the 106 recommendations set by Lord Cullen after the Piper Alpha disaster inquiry.The HSC estimates that the overall cost of modifying installation in the North Sea will be about £1,750 million.Jimmy Airlie, regional officer of the AEU engineering union, said: 'This document vindicates our long campaign to improve health and safety offshore.'Operators in the North Sea welcomed the report but said they would question regulations that could result in operators having to provide safe refuges on unmanned installations. CONSTRUCTION NEWS
6 May 2008
With more than 450 exhibitors to choose from planning your SED visit is essential. Dan Selinger highlights what to look out for