Offshore Europe Expo 07 – An Editor’s view

Offshore Europe was a major showcase for suppliers to the oil and gas industry: here are reports from my visits to some of the more interesting stands.

The Offshore Europe Exhibition, held in Aberdeen from 4-7 September 2007, was a major showcase for the oil and gas industry.

Attended by over 35,000 visitors over the four days, there were 1455 exhibitor stands.

So this report cannot attempt to review everything: it can give some idea of the cross section of the exhibitors present that have submitted stories to Processingtalk, where you can follow up for further information.

The report below also includes some of the new companies found during Nick Denbow’s OE visit, that were considered interesting from an Editor’s viewpoint.

** FLOW MEASUREMENT TECHNOLOGY.

KATRONIC TECHNOLOGIES have had major success over the past few years with their clamp-on ultrasonic flowmeters in hazardous offshore applications, including fitting systems onto Duplex pipework, which has apparently been a problem with other clamp-on flowmeters.

It obviously pays to have someone who knows about phase changes with ultrasonic waves as they enter the pipe-wall from the transducer, it seems not all sensors are actually designed with enough background physics knowledge! (This is maybe something for me to remember when struggling to justify what the point of learning Physics is, as a subject at school).

Anyway their OE07 stand had a challenge to see how fast you could attach their clamp-on transducers to the pipeline on display, and get a flow reading: I wonder whether the winner was a practical guy or an office based guy?.

ENDRESS + HAUSER showed a 10” Coriolis meter on the stand, plus also had some clamp-on ultrasonic flowmeter sensors: these had neat pipe mount saddles to accept the sensors, which could be then inserted just with a dash of KY Jelly on the faces: somehow there has to be a better couplant system! Interesting that E+H have started production of temperature sensors in Manchester, apparently using a lot of the staff from Bush Beach who were not offered/did not want to move up to Workington with ABB.

The lesson there is that you create your own worst enemy, when corporate decisions move plants away.

FLOTECH SOLUTIONS featured the Brodie BiRotor PD flowmeter, which has been the standard PD meter for the petroleum industry for over 60 years: they have recently supplied a batch of these units to Total for their Killingholme road tanker terminal.

They also showed their EPI Flow Averaging Tubes for gas flow measurements in larger ducts, and further industrial and water industry flow measurement systems.

LITRE METER was at OE07 with flowmeters form the other end of the scale, used to control the flow of chemical injection dosing systems into the pipelines, some of which are even working in the hostile temperatures offshore from Sakhalin Island, off Eastern Russia.

Chemical injection packages were also a major feature of the SPX Process Equipment stand at OE: SPX covers many well known brands, like Bran + Luebbe, Copes Vulcan, Lightnin, JP Pumps.

Their packaged systems built in Northamptonshire are supplied for many major projects, recently particularly for installation on the Caspian and the Middle East.

CRANE PROCESS FLOW Technology had a wide range of valves on display, but were most proud of their Duo-Chek valve used for reverse flow prevention, which uses two spring loaded flaps, far more efficient than a single eccentrically hinged flap that drops under its own weight in no flow conditions.

Similarly the Noz-Chek valve is a totally cast body, and is able to produce a smooth laminar flow downstream of the check valve.

** DESIGN SOFTWARE.

AVEVA was a new name to me, but is the major multi-national business that has always supplied software for plant design and construction contractors: in the last 10 years, over 80% of the largest production facilities in the North Sea and the Gulf of Mexico were designed using AVEVA technology.

The name had to be upgraded to be more fitting, and less confusing for a multi-national client base.

AVEVA launched their latest update, PDMS12, at OE07.

They have also now incorporated the TRIBON acquisition into the main software, which was primarily designed for shipbuilders, presumably this is very useful for FPSO and other floating structures.

** REPAIR AND MAINTENANCE?.

Why the question mark: well many advanced techniques and new ideas come to the attention of operators via maintenance activities, when a repair technique solves some problem in a way that is better than the original design.

Sometimes the repaired component outlasts the original installed part: so why not adopt the repair and maintenance ideas on new plant installations.

This is what is happening with BELZONA POLYMERICS, a coating and repair specialist in epoxy and other resins for offshore coatings and rebuilds.

Possibly their ideas for these resins were developed in the 1950s in the tea-rooms in Harrogate, where they are still based, but they seem to be built from strong Yorkshire stuff.

The Belzona demonstration at OE07 showed a flange face rebuild, and also the underwater application of a Belzona brushed coating to provide corrosion protection.

This can be mixed and applied by a diver, and takes 45 minutes to set, incorporating any moisture under the coat into the epoxy during the cure.

But while it is brush applied in this sort of application, it can also be sprayed (with no VOC problems, and no shrinkage problems), and this is now being used to internally coat offshore tanks to protect from the corrosive liquids brought up into separator vessels etc: the real benefit is that where Duplex steel might previously have been specified, Belzona coated carbon steel will probably provide a better component, on shorter delivery and for less cost.

On the ABLE INSTRUMENTS AND CONTROLS stand, a direct video link showed activity on their flow training rig at their new process training facility at Dyce, near Aberdeen.

This has created a really good impression with all the visitors who have reviewed the facility, and bookings on the training courses are mounting up.

Having the live link had a further advantage: when the boss could be seen working on the flow rig, it was a good time for the staff to practice their golf swings on the Nintendo Wii offered for customer entertainment! Able Instruments also offer the Jerome hand-held Mercury vapour analyser, which is used for industrial hygiene monitoring, Mercury spill clean up and Mercury exclusion testing.

Recently, on offshore installations, when breaking containment, engineers have found deposits of small puddles of liquid mercury.

These deposits have been brought up with the oil and gas, and become trapped in the various separation vessels.

The resulting personnel hazard of poisonous mercury vapour needs checking, before any entry by personnel, and this is where the analyser is needed offshore.

Able have many other products on offer to their oil and gas industry client base, but new ones on show this year were the flare gas flow monitors from Fluenta, and as a newly appointed Siemens Channel partner, they can also offer the Siemens oil in water monitor, used in produced water management systems.

** QUALITY CONTROL AND CALIBRATION.

The presence of HACH ULTRA at OE interested me, because most of their Processingtalk stories relate to other industries, like nuclear power boiler water monitoring etc.

But it was soon obvious that their Orbisphere dissolved oxygen sensors are just as important for monitoring the oxygen content of water offshore, for the same reason: controlling the oxygen leads to less corrosion, and helps maximize production.

Similarly their HIAC particle counter, a laser based system for monitoring and categorizing particle size in the 5u to 100u region, is used to check the flushing oil contamination in new hydraulic system components at the production unit, and then another unit checks it for the operator, once the units arrive offshore as well!.

Nearby, BEAMEX showed their new MC4 Multi-function documenting calibrator, which is, inevitably, smaller in size than previous models, and can upload the information collected to their data management software.

The Beamex ‘Calibration World’ corporate magazine collected at OE was one of the best such one company magazines I have seen for a while: and having produced a few of these I know how difficult they are to make something attractive and readable.

No doubt QA people all know about it, but get your copy by emailing address data to calibrationworld@beamex.com, and mention the edition quoted at OE!

** CONTROL SYSTEMS, MIGRATION AND UPGRADES.

ABB UK Service used OE 2007 to present several press releases and announcements about their activity supporting offshore control systems, and providing migration paths and upgrades to the latest technology relevant, with a guaranteed upgrade path/capability until 2025, quoted as the best offer available in the industry.

As the ABB Aberdeen based service operation, they are focused on the offshore business: as a part of this service, ABB has recently developed a comprehensive five-year ‘Evolution for Life’ plan that is being used by the Armada North Sea Gas Platform owned by Aberdeen based BG-Group.

This will upgrade and extend the ICSS (integrated control and safety systems) to monitor and control every aspect of the platform process and safety systems.

Yokogawa presented their capability with their newly upgraded Exhibition vehicle, squeezed next to the lunch tent, and easily accessible in the Aberdeen sunshine.

The vehicle is currently on a wide tour of the UK and Ireland, demonstrating the latest techniques available, right on the customer’s doorstep.

Apparently Yokogawa developed the original HIPPS system, in conjunction with Shell, to install the logic system on the sea bed, protecting the shore delivery pipework from any pressure surges.

Yokogawa are heavily involved in North Sea projects, and have recently won the upgrade of the Beryl platform control system: plus as the Shell standard shutdown system, they have 70 offshore installations there.

** IR MONITORING and GAS DETECTION.

Following the editorial on Processingtalk a few weeks ago discussing Tunable Diode Laser (TDL) gas detection available from Yokogawa Europe, I was interested to see TDL systems on the ALLISON ENGINEERING stand, amongst the various flow measurement systems they offer.

Apparently their TDL system is used as a perimeter gas detection alarm, with the laser beam bounced around a whole area.

Typical gases detected are HF or H2S.

Their TDL provides an alarm system to initiate process shutdown should there be a major gas escape, to protect the surrounding population, and environment.

Systems are in operation around critical areas on plants in Coryton and Grangemouth.

Allison are also finding significant use for the K-Tek magnetostrictive measurement unit that can provide 1mm analogue output monitoring accuracy for a float inside a level gauge, as a retrofit for a visual only measurement.

Whether the basic float positioning is performing to that accuracy is another consideration!.

FLIR Systems demonstrated their GasFindIR camera, which uses IR imaging to find even small fugitive gas emissions quickly and easily: FLIR claim this will revolutionise gas leak detection: as long as it can be operated from a safe area.

The FLIR stand also showed their new design ThermaCAM IR camera for general IR imaging and condition monitoring work.

The EExd thermal imaging cameras from HAWK IR are finding plenty of applications on-shore for petrochemical plants and terminal installations, and Hawk are also providing full training and back-up in the use of such IR systems via their Infrared Safety Centre, based in North Yorkshire but attracting attendance from customers world-wide.

Gas monitoring in a different form was on show from MICHELL INSTRUMENTS: their Promet EExd is the world’s first purpose-designed, EExd flameproof-certified, process moisture analyser, and this is used in custody transfer applications where the gas specification in terms of moisture is important, to ensure natural gas for major users is supplied to the contract specification.

** ON PLANT WIRELESS SENSORS.

EXTRONICS explained their involvement with Information Technology for Hazardous Areas, using the brand name ITEX: their major business area is in applying hazardous area wireless and mesh Ethernet systems.

They have also developed an intrinsically safe tag for use by operators, or on valuable portable assets for that matter, so they can be tracked around the plant.

The brochure produced describing their wireless networks and products is one of the best I have seen on the topic, so call them for a copy: 01260 297274.

A demonstration of wireless communications using WiMax and Zigbee systems was provided by INVENSYS across the OE Exhibition site in Aberdeen to their nearby offices, and they claim to have around 18 demonstration sites set up and operating in the USA, but are waiting for intrinsically safe wireless systems to become available from European suppliers before considering anything here.

** PIPELINE MONITORING.

There were many stands at OE presenting pipeline pigging, cleaning and monitoring services and products.

One that caught my attention, as ever, was the SandQ monitor from CLAMPON, because it is a clamp-on acoustic monitor, and some stories from ClampOn of Norway are now on Processingtalk.

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