New ultra-miniature downhole transducer

Over the years you might have read about strain gauge based pressure transducers, and wondered why the major pressure transmitter firms never really went down that simple line for submersible gauge or absolute pressure transmitters. In the UK, Druck created a major business from this technology, and were eventually absorbed into GE, which basically ensured they remained a niche supplier. Another specialist, and niche supplier of such transducers, was Paine Electronics in the US. Originally established in 1951, they moved into strain gauge transducers in around 1968. In 2001 the company was acquired from the original owner, Bill Paine, and moved to Washington: but in 2013 it became employee owned, and proud of that fact.

On the original Paine website it still says “We believe our employees should share in the success of our company in a tangible way”, and this is signed off as “Paine Electronics – an employee owned company”. But with 100+ employees the business was still relatively small, even though it supplied pressure transducers to subsea and satellite/space vehicle applications, as well as to the aerospace industry. So the tangible benefit to employees came fairly quickly, with another change of ownership.

At the end of 2014, in November, Emerson acquired “substantially all of the assets of Paine Electronics”. Reporting into the Emerson Rosemount operation, Paine was seen as “Extending their leadership in providing measurement technologies for the oil and gas industry with expanded upstream capabilities in subsea and downhole drilling operations”. This would also complement the business of a previous Emerson acquisition, Roxar, who supply products used on subsea oil & gas operations. But maybe because it is a small operation, only now do we have some follow-up news, in the shape of a new product release from Emerson, describing a new Paine transducer for downhole pressure and temperature measurement. Size is critical in downhole operations, so this transducer, described as ultra-miniature, has an OD of 0.93cms (or 0.37 inches in US units). It is the Paine 310-38-0050, still labelled like that, and was actually launched on the Paine website back in February 2016.

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The Paine 310-38-0050 transducer provides both temperature and pressure measurements in the smallest and most rugged form factor possible. It provides pressure measurements up to 25kpsi (1723 Bar) and withstands and monitors temperatures up to 425F (218C) to cover the wide range of conditions experienced in downhole operating environments, just behind the drill bit. The unit is also built to withstand the corrosive drilling fluids and high vibration levels normal in these applications.

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Emerson acquires Paine Electronics business

Emerson has acquired the Paine Electronics business from Paine Electronics LLC, and it will become part of Emerson Process Management. Paine Electronics, a leading manufacturer of pressure transducers, is recognised worldwide for its pressure and temperature instrumentation used in some of the most challenging environments, for example in subsea and downhole measurement for the oil and gas industry.

With this acquisition, Emerson Process Management extends its leadership in providing measurement technologies for the oil and gas industry with expanded upstream capabilities in subsea and downhole drilling operations. The Paine products will join the Rosemount portfolio of measurement technologies.

“Paine products are a natural complement to our already-strong measurement technologies for the oil and gas industry,” said Tom Moser, Emerson group vp for Measurement and Analytical technologies. “We are excited about the synergy between our two companies and the opportunities for global business growth.”

Since 1951, Paine has manufactured pressure and temperature sensors designed for long-term stability, accuracy and reliability in physically harsh environments. Headquartered in East Wenatchee, Washington, USA, Paine Electronics earlier this year opened a new research and development centre that offers advanced design capabilities as well as simulation and testing facilities. Paine has more than 100 employees at manufacturing facilities in East Wenatchee and Renton, also in Washington, USA.

GE $1Bn wellhead deal with Petrobras

GE Oil & Gas and Brazilian energy company Petrobras have signed the world’s largest subsea wellhead production contract, worth nearly US$1.1Bn. This includes the delivery of approximately 380 subsea wellhead systems and installation tools needed in oil well exploration, and more than 75 percent of the parts will be made in Brazil.

GE announced the award of the contract at the 2012 Rio Oil & Gas being held September 17-20 in Rio de Janeiro.

“This new agreement between two of the world’s largest companies shows our commitment to collaborate in the development of the oil and gas sector in Brazil,” said João Geraldo Ferreira, president and CEO of GE Oil & Gas for Latin America. “In recent years our investments and efforts have been focused on preparing our company to support market growth and to be ready for contracts of this size, developing the entire supply chain. We want to grow with the country.”

“The new contract builds on our existing relationship with Petrobras and follows previous successful projects,” said Rod Christie, vice president of GE Oil & Gas Subsea Systems. In 2009, GE Oil & Gas and Petrobras signed what was then the biggest wellhead contract in history to date (in terms of number of wellheads), worth US$250 million.

“Through the acquisition of VetcoGray in 2007 and Wellstream in 2011 and ongoing investments in technology, GE has become an established player in the offshore industry,” said Christie. “With more than 5,000 subsea employees operating in more than 50 countries we are supporting some of the industry’s largest and most challenging projects.”

Petrobras plans to install the subsea wellhead systems in various oil and gas fields in Brazil, including sub-salt. The equipment will be produced at the GE plant in Jandira (São Paulo), where GE has invested US$30m to expand production capacity.

“The Jandira facility has been crucial in allowing GE Oil & Gas to provide world-class technology and has prioritized Brazilian-based production, which is a critical component in local social and economic growth,” said Fernando Martins, president of Subsea Systems for GE in Latin America. In the last 30 years, more than 1,200 GE wellhead systems and 180 subsea Christmas trees have been produced and installed in Brazil.

Petrobras is an integrated energy company that operates in 27 countries on five continents. It is a world leader in deepwater and ultra-deepwater oil production and operates approximately 100 production platforms, 15 refineries, 30,000 kilometers of pipelines and more than 6,000 service stations.

GE Oil and Gas is committed to business growth in Brazil and continues to invest in new capacity to take on orders and new industry demands. The US$30 million invested in Jandira (SP) was used for capacity expansion and modernization of the operation. In Niterói (Rio de Janeiro), GE is investing US$200m to expand its flexible line plant, to serve the new sub-salt fields.

In June 2012, GE announced the completion of the US$32m expansion of its plant in Macaé (Rio de Janeiro), tripling the size of the facility and making it GE Oil & Gas’s most modern subsea system services provider in the world. This expansion increased the workforce at the site by 150%.