OTC: Spotlight on Technology recognizes 14 new technologies

Nina M. Rach
Drilling Editor

Guntis Moritis
Production Editor

The Offshore Technology Conference of 2007 recognized 14 diverse technologies in its Spotlight on New Technology Awards. The award program, which began in 2004, highlights new technologies in offshore drilling and production.

OTC recognized:

--Aker Kvaerner Subsea for the SeaBooster seawater injection system.

--Aker Kvaerner Well Services for the PowerTrac Cone Crusher wellbore scale removal mill.

--Baker Oil Tools for the Diamond FRAQ polymer-free high-performance fracturing fluid.

--Baker Oil Tools for the linEXX solid expandable monobore liner extension system.

--DYNAenergetic GmbH & Co. KG for the DYNAenergetics no-debris perforating gun system.

--FARO Technologies Inc. for the FARO TrackArm portable computerized measurement device.

--Halliburton Co. for the Honey Comb Base (HCB) tank system for handling drill cuttings.

--Jet-Lube Inc. for the SEAL-GUARD ECF and NCS-30 ECF thread compounds, which meet stringent North Sea environment standards.

--MODEC International LLC for the MOSES self-stable integrated platform (SSIP) tension-leg platform (TLP).

--Single Buoy Moorings Inc. (SBM) for the LNG toroidal swivel, which allows transfer of LNG through weathervaning installations.

--Impact Solutions Group for its Secure Drilling system for detecting kicks or mud losses and then automatically managing backpressure.

--Versabar Inc. for its hydraulic cylinder system for raising the topsides on Eugene Island 330C and 330B platforms.

--Vetco Gray for the MR-6H SE automated marine riser connection.

--Weatherford International Ltd. for its OverDrive system, which improves top-drive casing running and drilling operations.

To be considered, each technology had to be less than 2 years old, be proven through full-scale application or successful prototype testing, have broad interest and appeal, and provide significant benefits beyond existing technologies.

Drilling technologies
Three awards went to drilling systems.

The closed-loop Impact Solutions Secure Drilling System (SDS) analyzes drilling data to detect kicks or losses and automatically manage backpressure at the surface. SDS keeps circulating volumes as small as possible and incorporates existing drilling and pressure control equipment with minimal upgrades and equipment additions.

In its basic form, SDS lets the driller see real-time changes in flow and pressures. It allows overbalanced, near-balanced, or underbalanced drilling, thus enabling each section of the well to be optimized based on downhole conditions.

Weatherford International's OverDrive system enhances safety and efficiency of top-drive casing running and drilling operations.

The primary component is the set of TorkDrive heavy-duty and modular tools used for making up and breaking out casing, mounted directly to the rig's top drive. The TorkDrive tools combine the functions of conventional power tongs, bails, elevators, thread compensators, and fill-up circulation tools.

The OverDrive system can rotate and push down casing while running to help prevent differential sticking. It offers high-speed string rotation with the top drive when drilling or reaming-with-casing and lowers the number of workers needed on the rig floor.

Halliburton's HCB bulk cutting storage tank, recognized for improved wellsite safety and efficiency, simplifies cuttings transfer and storage. The system eliminates the need for cutting boxes, which create safety risks and occupy deck space. Halliburton says the HCB tank system is easily installed and does not need to be close to solids-control equipment.

The HCB system can be coupled with the air-operated SupaVac SV400 long-distance pumping and transfer system, which can vacuum drill cuttings up to 165 ft and pump as much as 20 tons/hr of drill cuttings to a distance of 490-650 ft. The HCB tank discharges cuttings over long distances, up to 48 tons/hr horizontally and 30 tons/hr vertically.

Perforating, fracturing
The DYNAenergetic no-debris gun (NDG) system uses an internal sliding sleeve to close shot holes in the gun after the shot, reducing fragments from cases of the shaped charges.

DYNAenergetic says NDG testing (made in accordance with the new API RP 19b Section V standard) proved that no debris can exit the gun during or after the shot. The NDG can accommodate any standard shaped charge. Quality control shots with shaped charges in a NDG setup have shown little or no penetration loss.

The Baker Oil Tools Diamond FRAQ is the first polymer-free high-performance fracturing fluid. The fluid is the first viscoelastic (VES) fluid with polymeric fracturing fluid performance properties and formation and proppant pack cleanup capability. The fluid uses nanoparticle technology to associate (pseudocrosslink) VES micelles, stabilize VES micelle structures to 300° F., and form a pseudo-filtercake composed of highly viscous VES fluid (micelles) and nanoparticles.

Internal breakers in Diamond FRAQ work over a wide mix-water salinity and temperature range to reduce viscosity and clean up VES fluid.

Liners, risers
The Baker Oil Tools linEXX solid expandable monobore liner extension system optimizes casing configurations for drilling deeper or isolating trouble zones without reducing hole size. The system consists of:

--RC9 series recess casing shoe.

--FORMlock expandable liner hanger/packer.

--LinEXX solid expandable casing.

--RNX retrievable guide shoe.

--CatEXX hydraulic, top-down expansion system.

Vetco Gray said its fully automated MR-6H SE marine drilling riser connection design combines field-proven technology of the H-4 subsea wellhead connector and the dog-style marine riser (MR-).

To make the fully automated connection, hydraulic units on the spider engage a cam ring on the box that actuates six dogs into the profile in the pin. The pin is lowered into the box and guided into place with an internal guide pin. Then the spider does the rest, automatically making up the connection.

Fully automating the connection takes people out of a potential hazard. Vetco Gray says it takes less than 1 min to make and break the MR-6H SE connection. A string of MR-6H SE can be run in about half the time of a flanged riser system.

Subsea production
Aker Kvaerner's SeaBooster is a subsea processing system for injecting seawater into a subsea completed injection well. The system eliminates the need for flowlines and a topsides water injection pump. It can inject up to 151,000 b/d with differential pressures up to 4,100 psi.

The system has a filtration module for subsea solids removal prior to injection of water into the reservoir as well as provisions for chemical injection to prevent reservoir souring.

A Hayward Tyler freshwater and glycol-filled electric motor drives the SeaBooster.

Milling, thread compounds
Aker Kvaerner's PowerTrac Cone Crusher scale mill assembly is run in conjunction with the Aker Kvaerner's PowerTrac Advance (PTA) wireline tractor. The PTA tractor wheel section can act as an anchoring device in vertical sections and an anchoring and forward thrust device in horizontal wellbores.

The Cone Crusher's main body has four rotating cutting cones. Each cutting cone is free-rotating in its own axis and is independent of the rotating speed of the main body. Each cone also has a different cutting pattern that crushes scale.

The ECF thread compounds developed by Jet-Lube comply with stringent North Sea environmental guidelines for offshore chemicals. The SEAL-GUARD ECF for premium casing and tubing connections and the NCS-30 ECF for drillstring connections meet Norway's Yellow standards and the UK's E classification.

Jet-Lube says these are the most stringent thread compound requirements to date and required a total reformulation of the pipe compounds to meet both the performance and environmental requirements.

Both ECF compounds are nonmetallic and rated for 65-500º F. applications.

Computerized measurement
The FARO Technologies TrackArm portable computerized measurement device replaces hand tools and large, expensive fixed-coordinate measuring machines. The TrackArm combines two technologies: the FAROArm and FARO Laser Tracker to measure geometric features and directly import 3D measurements into digital form for CAD model or part size verification.

The FAROArm uses optical encoders, advanced error coding, and temperature compensation technology to record 3D points on items ranging from palm-sized to 12 ft. The FARO Laser Tracker X uses laser targets and Xtreme ADM technology to measure items up to 230 ft.

Production platforms
Two technologies for production platforms were recognized with Spotlight Awards.

The MODEC International MOSES SSIP is a TLP with inherent stability that allows quayside topsides integration and commissioning to the hull structure and wet-towing of the integrated platform. It eliminates the need for temporary buoyancy or crane-assisted installation.

The hull configuration has a central base structure, four rectangular pontoon tendon support structures (TSS), and four vertical columns. The TSS supports eight tendons via top connectors on a porch arrangement. The tendons connect to seabottom piles.

The SSIP TLP can support various drilling or workover rigs and many top-tension risers and flowline risers. It accommodates both wet and dry trees.

Versabar's deck-raising system used 32 synchronously controlled, 260-ton hydraulic cylinders to lift the topsides 14 ft on two eight-leg platforms in the Gulf of Mexico: Eugene Island 330C and 330B.

Versabar says the lift pinned the cylinders to lower padeyes welded to the existing legs and upper padeyes integral to the split extension sleeve. It says the 40.5-in. diameter, 1.5-in. wall extension sleeves captured the legs during the final leg cuts and with the rub rails limited lateral movement during the raising to 0.25 in. The work involved cutting the legs between two bushings installed near the top of the legs. Prior to the lift, the work required welding the top of the extension sleeve to the upper bushing. After rising, work required welding the bottom of the extension sleeve to the lower bushing.

Versabar says a 12-in. diameter, 1.75-in. wall pin inserted into the leg provided a storm-safe condition at all times except when removed to raise the platforms.

LNG transfer
SBM's LNG Toroidal Swivel allows offshore LNG transfer through weathervaning turret-moored or single-point-moored installations. SBM can configure the swivel to allow the passage of multiple LNG streams up to 20 in. in diameter and a 16-in. vapor return.

Composite material bearings and thermal rods inside the toroid shield the swivel seals from thermal deformations when cooled to the operating �165° C. temperature and 10.5 bar pressure.

SBM says the swivel has undergone extensive tests that simulated 5 years of continuous service and expects the process to receive ABS approval in 2007.

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