Engineering Breakthrough Will Benefit Independent Operators

Aberdeen-based Aker Kvaerner MH UK, formerly known as Maritime Hydraulics UK, has successfully overcome an engineering challenge that could significantly reduce costs for smaller, independent oil and gas operators.

Aker Kvaerner MH UK engineers have implemented interface adaptations to it's Portable Top Drive (PTD) and a Hydraulic Roughneck, Light (HR-L) to make the equipment compatible with older offshore installations. In another first, the newly adapted equipment is being made available on a rental basis.

Portable Top Drives, which provide improved trip times and torque/speed capacity to enable implementation of extended reach drilling (ERD) programs, have previously been incompatible with many of the mature drilling installations used by independent operators in the North Sea due to the design of older platform derricks, which were built long before the development of PTDs.

Aker Kvaerner MH UK engineers have overcome this problem by designing and supplying special supports and utility handling systems to adapt the PTD and HR-L for use on older derricks.

General Manager, Michael Griffin says the company has responded to a new demand from the North Sea market: "There are several independent operators who will be able to benefit from this development.

"Until now, operators of older installations faced major capital expenditure if they wanted to make use of Portable Top Drives and would have had to carry out extensive upgrades or even replace platform derricks to accommodate the purchase of a PTD. "Now, that is no longer necessary. Our technology means PTDs and HR-Ls can be used on existing derricks, and operators can match utilization to operational schedules. We have learned some valuable lessons during the installation, and we now hope to make use of that elsewhere."

The first independent operator to benefit from the adapted technology is Apache North Sea, with whom MH UK has collaborated with and established an agreement for utilisation of a PTD and HR-L for Apache's installations in the Forties field.

While it would have previously been complex and costly to retrofit a PTD and HR-L the modified equipment is now in drilling mode on Apache's Forties Alpha platform, and will be moved to begin further drilling on the Forties Bravo platform later this year.

Meanwhile, Aker Kvaerner MH UK has completed its move from Aberdeen's North Esplanade East, to the Aker Kvaerner 'village' in Dyce.

All 30 personnel have transferred to new facilities at the Aker Kvaerner site in the Kirkhill Industrial Estate, joining staff at their sister companies - Aker Kvaerner Offshore Partner Limited, Aker Kvaerner Subsea, Aker Kvaerner Operations, and Aker Kvaerner Process Systems.

Aker Kvaerner MH UK customers attended a formal opening event, and Michael Griffin says all were impressed by the new premises: "Scaleable workshop and yard space gives us greater flexibility in terms of capacity, which represents an upgrade of facilities, and it will allow us to enhance the service we provide to our clients."

"We are also better able to share services with our sister companies."