Vector Supports Fast-track Shell Construction Project

Vector International has supported main contractor SLP Engineering Ltd in constructing two new gas platforms for Shell UK Exploration and Production – Carrack QA and Clipper PR – in a rapid construction time by providing Techlok clamp connectors for the project.

The platforms, which sailed out in July, were constructed in SLP's Lowestoft yard and completed in just 12 months – much faster than typical construction time for platforms of this size.

Rapid construction of the project was required to meet Shell's plans for targeting of the oil and gas reserves of the Carrack field. Vector has supplied over 600 Techlok connectors for the platforms ranging from 1 to 24 inches in duplex and super duplex to be used on topside piping.

"Given the importance of size and weight for offshore developments, particularly topside, Techlok provides a key advantage, being some 75 per cent smaller and lighter that traditional gasketed ASME/ANSI flanges of the same pressure rating. For instance, weight savings of nearly three tons can be made using Techlok over an equivalent 1500 class ASME/ANSI flange on one 24 inch size alone," explains Ian Robinson Vector International's vice president marketing and sales.

"What's more, and of particular significance for this fast construction project, is that Techlok has reduced bolting requirements (only four per connector) so typically, several connectors can be made up in the time it would take to construct one ANSI flange." The reduced bolting requirements on the Techlok connector are achieved thanks to its sealing method – a unique metal-to-metal technology that is self-energized by the pressure within the piping system and requires only low seating forces to maintain joint integrity, thus allowing the number of bolts to be reduced. ASME/ANSI flanges need very high seating forces to compress a gasket in order to maintain a seal and consequently several bolts per flange. A high number of bolts require a wide bolt-circle, which increases the flanges susceptibility to bending and the only recourse is to increase the thickness of the flange section, adding further weight.

Carrack QA will be a 'hub' platform of the operation some 120km off the coast of Norfolk on the UK/Dutch border, targeting reserves of 300 million standard cubic feet per day (MMscf/d), which is equivalent to almost 3% of the current daily demand in the UK. Clipper PR will be installed adjacent to Shell's existing Sole Pit Clipper platform to act as a reception facility for Carrack gas production.

In addition to the provision of connectors, and demonstrative of Vector's partnership engineering capabilities, its engineers have been integral in the decision-making of all pipe connection requirements for the platforms, working closely with SLP project engineers and numerous equipment suppliers, providing advice and guidance on the application of Techlok connectors and all interfacing equipment.

Competency training was also provided to SLP engineers to ensure that all the Techloks would be installed correctly, so helping to avoid incidences of damage to hubs, flanges and sealrings commonly caused by mishandling. Reducing damage to components is essential to achieving no leaks on start-up as even slight impairments can prevent a connector sealing correctly, which can cause delays while the resulting leaks are rectified.