Breaking the Steel Tradition

Weight control continues to be a concern for the offshore oil and gas industry, particularly as projects have grown in scale and complexity. Addressing the issue requires innovative solutions that go beyond traditional weight-reduction strategies.

BP’s Clair Ridge platform is the second development phase of the Clair Field, the largest undeveloped hydrocarbon resource in the UK continental shelf.

Approximately 2.6 miles of NORSOK-compliant FRP handrails, which are more corrosion- and fire-resistant and weigh less than standard steel railing systems, were installed on the platform.

BP worked with NOV to provide Bondstrand® glass-reinforced epoxy (GRE) pipe, which is much lighter than metallic pipe and has superior corrosion-resistance properties. More than 8000 m (26,247 ft) of GRE pipe system was installed throughout the platform, reducing weight by up to 50%. Following this, almost 9000 m (29,538 ft) of phenolic fiberglass-reinforced polymer (FRP) grating was installed across the platform to further reduce weight.

BP’s Clair Ridge facility is the second development phase of the Clair Field.

The success of this phase prompted further weight-reduction solutions throughout the platform, with NOV suggesting a redesign of handrails as the next step. Approximately 4.2 km (2.6 miles) of the NORSOK-compliant MARRS® OFFSHORE handrail system, developed by engineers in NOV’s Pipex px® group, were designed for the platform. In addition to meeting the required strength, toughness, and fire-resistance performance and safety standards for offshore oil and gas installations as dictated by NORSOK, the nature of phenolic FRP materials enabled weight reductions over standard steel railing systems.

With an extremely limited timeframe, NOV also designed, qualified, fabricated, tested, and delivered 290 composite pressure vessels to BP. Two unique computer numerical control (CNC) machines, built from the ground up in a dedicated facility, assisted engineers in meeting the tight schedule by automatically performing various manufacturing-related tasks. More than 700 tonnes of weight was saved throughout the Clair Ridge platform as a result of installing the various composite systems, and BP was given confidence that the materials would not corrode for the entire lifecycle of the development.

Composite pressure vessels were designed, qualified, fabricated, tested, and delivered to BP in an extremely short timeframe.

The sheer scope of offshore structures has necessitated a change in how the industry thinks about weight control, with the issue being so critical that design philosophies around offshore engineering and construction have shifted. NOV brought together products from Pipex px®, part of the Fiber Glass Systems business unit, and technical engineering services to develop a complete turnkey solution on BP’s Clair Ridge platform, proving that breaking tradition can lead to immense successes.