Balltec Ltd

Engineering horizons

Since the company was incorporated during 2004, Balltec Ltd. has successfully installed more than 1000 components across in excess of 150 products around the world. Throughout its history, Balltec has pioneered the development of ball and taper technology for the oil and gas industry, while its engineers have always placed a significant emphasis on research and development activities that ensure the delivery of problem-solving products to market. Initially these developments focused on the deployment of the ball and taper mechanism, which has since been diversified to accommodate a range of applications, including mooring connectors, heavy lifting and pipeline and abandonment recovery tools.

The company was previously profiled in Energy, Oil & Gas magazine during October 2015, when Managing Director, Russell Benson discussed how the company’s ability to provide turnkey and innovative solutions has made Balltec Engineered Solutions the partner of choice for operators all over the world, working with leading subsea players including Subsea7 and Technip, as well as major oil and gas operators including Shell, BP and Total. In recent months, the company’s agility in addressing the specific needs of the market and its clients has proven to be an invaluable strength as the drop in oil price and the resulting downturn in subsea activities has driven a need for diversification for many players within the subsea oil and gas industry.

“We actually made the decision to focus on less traditional markets around 24 months ago by looking more at the renewable and decommissioning sectors as well as by taking a lighter approach into the nuclear industry. Balltec has been quite successful in its focus on the renewable market and we have picked up several projects with clients operating off the eastern coast of Canada and we are looking for further contracts with clients operating in Australia. We have also been heavily focused on the R&D side of the business at the same time to allow the company to really focus on the market and understand what technologies are needed,” details Vice President of the company’s activities in the Eastern Hemisphere, Martyn Conroy.

“We have 12 internal design engineers, including Dr Marco Andre Teixeira, who is the company’s technical director who leads this technical development. We have finite element analysis (FEA) and use Solid Works as far as the design package is concerned, as well as an effective process that we work towards during R&D operations,” he adds. “We can either take on a full R&D project, where we will do a full feed study for a company, or we actually do all the R&D on our own cost to finally win the project in the end. Therefore, we do a lot of specific special R&D projects.”

By moving into new sectors, Balltec has been able to adapt and develop unique technologies that address the problems encountered to operators within the renewable, offshore and decommissioning spheres while developing new products that it is able to continue to sell into the market. For example, the company has recently designed and manufactured its LiftLOK connector lifting solution as a primary component in the deployment and recovery system for subsea turbines produced by Openhydro. The new handling system will be used in the deployment of the latest generation of open centre technologies, which is currently being produced by OpenHydro across projects in Europe and Atlantic Canada.

The installation and recovery of subsea turbines calls for the use of a catamaran barge to connect a frame to the vertices of a triangular subsea base through the use of three Balltec LiftLOK connectors. The connectors are in turn fixed to a sheave block that is housed within the recovery frame that serves to space the tools apart and guide each unit into the correct position to engage with three receptacles on the subsea base. “This project required full DNV certification to 2.22 Lifting Appliances,” explains Jon Jackson, Balltec Engineering Manager. “Due to the extreme environmental conditions of this project, with its shallow water and a short installation window, Balltec developed a fully automated system utilising integrated hydraulics, sensors and live data streaming.”

Further to its development of new technologies for the renewable and decommissioning sectors, Balltec has also continued in its strategy of developing relationships with clients within new market locations around the world. “During the past several months we have carefully looked at a few areas of growth, one of which is geographic expansion through strategically placed agents. Most importantly, we are looking to partner with the right agents. We are looking to work with agents that have engineering experience that links up well with ours, to allow them to become a strategic partner in their respective region and not just a sales agent. We currently have new agents in China and Malaysia and are currently in negotiations with a new client in Australia. We have also recently established a new agent in Newfoundland to cover the east base of Canada,” Martyn reveals.

“One of the key things that we say is that as a company we want to find solutions, but to also provide solutions that result in new products. We’re not a pure design and engineering company, instead we want to design, engineer, manufacture, build, test and deliver a full service package,” he concludes. “During the next 12 months we will continue to look at delivering specifically problem based solutions and engineering projects for subsea products in the renewable, decommissioning and offshore markets. We offer a quick turnaround, but I think our biggest selling point is our engineering capability and our ability to find innovative solutions.”

Balltec Ltd

Services: Mechanical connectors and engineering solutions