Subsea Europe Showcases Cutting Edge Technology

ClayCutter X
(Click to Enlarge)

Cutting edge technology that has the capability of saving the oil and gas sector significant cash will be the centrepiece of a major subsea event. Subsea Europe, which takes place in London today, October 30, 2008, will highlight the best of the UK's subsea industry.

AGR Subsea Ltd, part of the AGR Group, will showcase groundbreaking seabed intervention technology at the event. AGR Subsea says the ClayCutter X system offers considerable savings by allowing pipe to be laid across uneven seafloor areas where pipelay was previously impossible or only feasible with extensive rock installation work.

ClayCutter X is the result of a seven-figure investment by AGR Subsea in hardware and fluid flow design work. The technology enables companies to pre-trench and remodel sections of seabed that were previously impenetrable. Central to the pioneering system are three containerised high pressure pumps which deliver precise, powerful jets of water that cut through seabed clay at high, controlled rates. Each pump is powered by a 3,000 hp marine diesel engine, and the pumps have been designed so that they can be utilised on other applications when not performing ClayCutter projects.

John Sands, UK General Manager of AGR Subsea said, "The technology provides a new way of excavating the seabed. Although the equipment was primarily designed for clay we can cope with widely varying seabed soils, opening up the possibility of routing pipelines through difficult seafloor areas where previously lines would have skirted around obstacles. Reducing the total length of lines plus reducing or eliminating other seabed interventions such as rock dump is very attractive to installation contractor and operators alike.

"It's our job to get the message out there that this technology not only works but opens up vast swathes of seabed that used to be off limits. Subsea Europe is the best place for us to formally introduce the ClayCutter X technology to the sector. Almost all the key players will be there."

The company completed its first subsea project using the new technology for the Southern Extension of Shell's Ormen Lange Gas Field, located on the Norwegian continental shelf, in 870 meters water depth. AGR was contracted directly to StatoilHydro, the operator for the installation phase of the project. During the project, executed in July this year, the system cut more than 38 days off the planned 55 day excavation schedule. ClayCutter X was able to achieve an average excavation rate of 23.8 m3/hr and excavated a total of 3,368m3 of soil from 10 sites.

The technique builds on a number of previous attempts over the last thirty years or so to use water to trench in stiff clays. In developing the ClayCutter X, AGR's engineers used the lessons from earlier systems to refine the technology and ensure that the ClayCutter X offered maximum flexibility, with the ability to reconfigure the cutting equipment while in the water. In addition the development work on the pump set has delivered seamless and reliable delivery of high pressure, high volume water to the tool.

The system works by directing many high pressure water jets at the seabed, through the ClayCutter X manifold system. The position of the equipment is dictated by the position of the vessel from which it is deployed.

Physical contact with the seabed is not required, as all the cutting work is performed by the high pressure jets or, in softer soils, with high-volume water cannons mounted on the ClayCutter X body. Key to the success of the system is the ability to vary the tool's configuration while it is in use, and the use of high-power centrifugal pumps which can range from high pressure to high volume without the need to change out pump liners.

Almost 40 companies from the subsea industry will be exhibiting at Subsea Europe. It is the first time the highly respected event has been held in London. The exhibition and conference which brings together key players within the subsea sector will showcase the wealth of opportunities and technologies in the booming subsea sector with a focus on the European and West African oil and gas markets.

Alistair Birnie, Chief Executive of Subsea UK added, "There is a huge amount of anticipation ahead of Subsea Europe and we are delighted that so many high calibre companies such as AGR Subsea are taking part. As well as the opportunity to find out about the cutting edge technology currently being developed, there will also be the chance to hear from some of the most respected individuals within the subsea industry. The topics that will be discussed during the one-day conference are very relevant to the whole of the sector and it promises to be a highly informative event."

Subsea Europe is taking place at the Business Design Centre in Islington. The event is organised with the support of Oil and Gas UK and BERR (Department for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform) and was preceded by a networking dinner at the London Aquarium on October 29, 2008.


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