Offshore oil and gas

Offshore fields of the future present actuation opportunities

The rise of automation and smart technology is becoming increasingly prevalent in many industries and is expected to grow rapidly on offshore oil and gas platforms over the next decade.
 
^ Offshore oil and gas

Article by Chris Walsh
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One of the projects leading the charge in this technological revolution in the offshore oil and gas industry is the North of Alvheim Krafla Askja (NOAKA) Alliance, a group of end users and operators working alongside Norwegian authorities focusing on an area south of Oseberg in the North Sea. The project is aiming to develop low maintenance, unmanned, offshore installations which have a 25 year lifespan and require minimal maintenance.

Although more expensive to build than traditional, manned platforms, lower running costs and reduced health and safety risks mean unmanned oil and gas platforms can lead to major cost savings, while the prospect of these facilities being carbon-neutral is also a realistic possibility.

The NOAKA Alliance is already making good progress towards this aim through the utilisation of onshore control rooms, predictive maintenance and asset management systems and the use of onshore hydro-electric power. This technology is expected to improve and increase further over the next five years with potential new concepts including:
  • Drone inspections – This would see flying drones equipped with cameras beaming images and live video to an onshore control room to showcase the condition of assets, check for visual faults and respond to alerts.
  • Plug and play actuators – In a similar vein to subsea actuators, which feature a standard coupling interface between the actuator and valve, this will allow a gantry robot to remove and replace an actuator for maintenance. The actuator can then be held in storage until a manned team can visit.
  • Remote intelligent pigging – Again similar to subsea automatic pigging systems, commissioning and routine pigging can be carried out from on onshore control room through cloud-based technology.
  • Compact and lightweight equipment – Modular solutions, wireless technology and low power will be key factors in future product selection.

The uptake of this automated, unmanned technology on offshore oil and gas platforms opens up exciting new possibilities for valve actuation. The drive towards all-electric actuators is a particularly important consideration as, ultimately, unmanned platforms will not have air compressors or hydraulic power units to run fluid power actuators. Rotork’s SI range of actuators offer a unique solution to this requirement, combining electrical operation with precise hydraulic control and the reliability of mechanical spring return or accumulator failsafe action.

Asset management and predictive maintenance is already in use on many of these platforms and Rotork’s actuators are equipped with the ability to capture and communicate detailed information, including valve torque profiles, starts and temperature trend logs, in the field.

The use of low maintenance products also means an increased demand for stainless steel and polymer materials or other solutions to protect equipment from corrosion. Rotork’s experience in this field means a number of solutions can be offered, including stainless steel thrust bases and spool adapters which are free from any water catchment areas. Individual components are painted to help solve the issue of paint breakage around stainless steel fasteners during maintenance.

As more offshore oil and gas platforms become automated and unmanned, Rotork’s innovative actuation technology will provide operators with reliable products and solutions to overcome the challenges presented by this industrial transformation.

About the author

Chris Walsh (Global Key Accounts and Projects Manager) has over 30 years sales experience with major industrial companies, predominantly in the Fluid Power sector. Having joined Rotork as Global Key Accounts and Projects Manager, Chris coordinates Rotork’s activities in major oil & gas operators and linked EPCs. As part of his role, working with operators who are rapidly moving to new technologies, Chris acts as the voice of the customer. He has over 15 years’ experience in coordinating the development of customer-driven engineered-solutions, where improved diagnostics and lower maintenance are key factors.

Chris Walsh

 

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