Flowline Specialists Limited

Reel potential

Flowline Specialists was established in 2001 by Alistair Nieuwenhuyse to address a requirement to cut costs in the handling of reels, flexible pipe and umbilicals, by utilising more specialist and innovative solutions.

Initially the company produced heavy-duty under-rollers and reel carriers for the handling and transportation of reels of up to 300 tonnes in weight without the need for large cranes. More recently the fleet has expanded into a wider range of handling equipment.

“The core of our business is the safe and efficient handling of flexible pipe, umbilicals, and cables,” describes Jim Smith, managing director of Flowline Specialists. “This is the common denominator of all of the markets we work in from subsea deployment, through decommissioning, to working directly with manufacturers to handle their own products. To service these markets we design, engineer, and manufacture our own equipment, which is predominately for our hire fleet.

“We are in a position now where rather than just offering a single unit of equipment we are able to offer a spread of equipment for the whole task of deployment and recovery, both onshore and offshore. Our fleet includes tensioners, spoolers, under-rollers, powered reels and shears, along with other similar products,” he continues.

More than a decade on the company’s unique self-loading reel handler remains one of its signature solutions utilised in the lifting, moving, and turning of reels weighing up to 300 tonnes without the use of cranes. This offers an economic solution to reel handling problems, particularly in remote areas where access to cranes may be limited. Flowline Specialists is also known for its self-loading and conventional under-rollers for the loading of flexible pipes and cables on and off large diameter reels. It is also able to supply powered reels for applications such as well intervention, pipeline flushing, and hose transfer from ship-to-seabed and ship-to-rig.

“Rather than just being a rental company, we consider ourselves more of a solutions provider capable of supplying a complete fleet of equipment and personnel for the client. We manage each project through from start to finish. Every project is different and it’s a matter of listening to the client and using our technical knowledge, experience and equipment available to meet those requirements. Being a smaller company we are very flexible in this respect and look to build long-lasting relationships with our clients. The fact that we don’t buy equipment in from anyone else but actually design, engineer and manufacture it to our own specification provides us another level of control and quality in what we do,” explains Jim.

Just recently Flowline Specialists has completed a major contract with Subsea7 for the spooling of flexible pipe and transportation of the full reels into a loading position. It has also worked with KD Marine in the handling, installation, and deployment of a replacement FPSO mooring cable. “There is an ongoing requirement for our services,” confirms Jim. “We are currently relocating into new additional premises, comprising offices, test facilities and further workshop capacity. As a relatively self-contained business we also build diesel and electric hydraulic power packs for our equipment and the new facility will specifically cater to this.”

In terms of other developments taking place in the business Flowline Specialists is also looking to further widen its global footprint. With its headquarters in Oldmeldrum, just north of Aberdeen and an operations base in Singapore already, the company has targeted the Norwegian market with a new base in Stavanger. “Our clients include many of the major subsea contractors worldwide, and as such wherever they work globally we look to be there to offer our services,” highlights Jim. “We have been successful in gaining work in both Singapore and Norway, so we are using this opportunity to establish ourselves further in those areas by handling projects locally, and as a springboard to grow our operations in the surrounding regions.”

Flowline Specialists’ ability to engineer cost effective and efficient solutions for flexible pipe and umbilical handling has led the company to position itself in a number of key industry markets. Describing some of the activity, and future potential, in these areas, Jim says: “We’ve been involved in a number of decommissioning projects to date, and have the ability to supply all the equipment for recovery and disposal of the flexible pipe and umbilicals. This covers both recovery of the pipe in one go for resale or re-use, or the shearing of the pipe into pieces for collection into containers for recycling. On the subsea side of the business, at present we mainly hire our equipment into shallower waters, but we are looking to build bigger and heavier equipment that can handle the larger products for deepwater requirements.”

Although the winter market is traditionally quieter, 2012 has been a strong year for Flowline Specialists and the company is looking positively towards projects beginning in 2013 onwards. However, Jim is taking a very controlled approach to any future growth in the business: “We want to ensure that as we grow we don’t lose the core values that have put us where we are today,” he concludes. “This means making sure that the quality of the work that we carry out and the equipment we manufacture and use continue to be of the highest standards. We are planning to employ additional staff during 2013, and it is crucial to us that as with our current team today, these individuals share the same values of conscientiousness and client focus, which are the standard bearers of the company.”

Flowline Specialists Limited
Services: Equipment for handling flexible pipe and umbilicals