The missing link
Sandvik Riser Technology (SRT) is part of Sandvik Material Technology, one of five business areas of Sandvik AB, and a global company involved in the development and production of advanced stainless steels, special alloys, titanium and other high-performance materials.
Formed in 2003 in Stavanger, SRT’s main focus is on the engineering, development, sales and marketing of the ClikLoc connector to the well completion and intervention market. This smart connector for topside and subsea riser applications improves safety and reduces cost.
The design replaces the requirement for the use of flanges and other sophisticated connectors that require numerous tools to complete the connection, aiding the possibility of completing high pressure riser joints without tooling. The ClikLoc connector is a revolution in multiple ‘make and break’ connections, reducing cost by making riser connections safer by eliminating the hazards of falling objects and further, can speed up installation considerably.
Originally developed as package for use in the North Sea market, several years of intervention and calculation went into the application design before its launch in 2009. It was field proven in several projects at the NCS and soon extended to the waters off the UK and beyond, attracting business in the Gulf of Mexico and Brazil. “Our product is not only reliable but saves valuable time for the client,” says Tore Salte, business development manager, continuing: “In situations where work is undertaken at rigfloor due to lift frame application and need connecting landing string to the cased wear joint without rotation. This is one of the main benefits for the topside application.”
The safety conscious technology eliminates the risk of falling objects and vastly reduces exposure time for handling crew. Typical topside applications for the product include coil tubing stack up risers, lifting frame applications, end connectors for dry tress and various applications within intervention and completion work. The product is constructed using a super duplex material that supports the use of the product on a global scale across varying working conditions. “Our design has been finalised according to ISO 13628-7, the workable completion standard, and one that employs a high degree of verification and testing before delivery into the market.
“Testing has been one of the greatest challenges, due to the lack of appropriate test equipment in the market. In response we have invested into a four point bending machine to undertake testing in-house. We have also appointed DNV as a verifier for our products as we launch variants into the subsea market,” points out Tore. This drive towards self-assurance saw an investment of 15 million NOK, complementing the years of development and improvement in the technology. With a customer portfolio consisting of businesses that include Statoil ASA, Det Norske Oljeselskap AS, BP Norge AS, BG Norge AS, ConocoPhillips Norge, Island Offshore AS, and Schlumberger, it is clear that the strengths of the connector are well regarded in the industry.
Conventional rigging of a typical 30-metre tall riser tower would involve more than 900 potential falling objects, and as Tore explains: “Operators are constantly looking for ways to reduce exposure safety risk to their personnel, and the potential of falling objects. Whether for use in a coil tubing/wireline BOP, or across the various equipment used in intervention work, assembled connections vary greatly and the connector can be fitted to all variations of connections. This flexibility is a key aspect of our offering.”
As an example, with a threaded connection, the failure of mis-threading is a common problem and repair causes costly delays for the rig. Through the use of the ClikLoc connector the problems can be eliminated, reducing the operational downtime. In another project, a customer on the Norwegian continental shelf was looking for a safer and more time saving alternative to the conventional rigging of coil tubing stack-up risers. The introduction of the connector for topside well intervention ensured that the operator was able to increase safety for its offshore crew and minimise the time for the riser tower to occupy the platform skid deck. SRT provides an installation and supervision service, although the simplicity of the product often means that once proficient in the method of installation, clients are able to perform tasks unaided.
Adding to its list of successful contracts, SRT undertook a project with BP Norway on the Skarv field, supplying connectors to be used in the completion of a semi-submersible within a tension frame. The goal of the project was to create an easy ‘make and break’ connection between the landing string and the cased wear joint, as well as putting into various wireline BOP’s and coiled tubing operations. As it branches into more subsea work, typical applications of completion and workover risers is likely to show substantial increase. “We have also had active involvement with ConocoPhilips in Norway on the Ekofisk field. There, our application has been used across the riser and installation of the coiled tubing. Every time an intervention is carried out on that field, our equipment is used,” says Tore.
The functional advantage of a fast and secure connection without tools is supported by the easy and vibration free locking mechanism, which has been operationally proven in harsh environments. “Across our entire target market the product has been very well received and as clients begin using it, they immediately recognise the benefits. The method saves vast amounts of time and the simplicity of the operation ensures that the client can perform the operation, disconnect and move onto the next task. Looking further ahead we expect to see an expansion of demand into specialty subsea qualification and in line with this, full performance tests with DNV start in November 2014,” Tore highlights.
With the company’s technology set to reduce life cycle cost and implement a safer operation for clients’ offshore crew it is ready to design and implement a quick and effective solution to any existing application.
There is a new field of activity unfolding in Norway, and the potential for subsea application in significant. SRT is also undertaking some initial investigative operations and works with the Brazilian market, which has huge potential for work now and years to come. Concluding, Tore says: “As we look ahead we aim to establish ourselves as a complete workover riser supplier extending beyond the connector and tube into the supply of a complete workover riser.”
Sandvik Riser Technology AS
Services: Engineering and development of high performance materials