Castrol Unveils New Environmentally Responsible Jacking Lubricant

A new performance standard for critical offshore operations will help North Sea oil and gas drilling operators comply with tough new environmental requirements, Castrol Offshore said on Monday.

Under rules set by the North-East Atlantic regulator, OSPAR, the range of the UK Offshore Chemical Notification scheme is being extended from January 1, 2009 to include all greases used to lubricate jackup open gearing – that raise and lower the platforms from and into the sea.

The consequence for North Sea oil and gas drilling operators is that the environmental impact of all greases used will have to be established prior to use. Lubricants containing hazardous components may be excluded from use and many components used in existing greases will attract attention from the authorities.

Castrol Offshore – part of the BP Group of companies – has responded to the new environmental requirements by launching BioTac OG – an environmentally responsible grease developed specifically to lubricate the rack and pinion jacking mechanism of mobile rigs. Greases currently used for jacking gears are generally intended for other uses.

The product is now being made available in different sizes and quantities to meet demand from operators looking to comply with the new OSPAR requirements.

"Customers, interest groups and other stakeholders are increasingly interested in practices that reduce environmental impact and create cleaner operating environments," said Susannah Linington, Castrol Offshore's Environmental Specialist. "The need for high performance, environmentally responsible solutions is the driving force behind Castrol Offshore’s commitment to developing new generations of high performance lubricant featuring green technology."

"We recognize that regulators are demanding greater environmental accountability in the North Sea, with higher priority now being placed on environmentally sensitive solutions. This is evident with the recent focus on specific applications, such as the use of jacking greases for self-elevating rigs."

During operations, jacking grease is applied to the legs of the rig and lowered into the sea, thus coming into direct contact with the water. Castrol Offshore had developed BioTac OG prior to the announcement of the new legislation, as there were already environmental concerns regarding the use of lubricants in this application, which is reflected by the interest in the new product in areas outside the legislative boundaries of OSPAR, showing the increasing corporate social responsibility of the drilling industry worldwide.

"While the North Sea is setting the pace for new environmental legislation governing offshore operations, other oil producing regions in Europe, Africa, Asia-Pacific and the Americas are expected to follow suit, by demanding the same environmental requirements as OSPAR," said Linington.

BioTac OG is part of the Castrol Offshore GreenField range of products, launched in 2008, including hydraulic fluids, gear oils, specialist lubricants, greases and subsea control fluids. All have been scientifically proven to have significantly reduced environmental impact compared with conventional products yet deliver superior technical performance.

"We launched the Castrol GreenField range precisely for this reason. As legislation in the North Sea – and other offshore areas – tightens, operators can be safe in the knowledge that Castrol will have a solution to their problem," said Linington.