Production – Construction & Design

In 1949, the J. Ray McDermott Co. built Derrick Barge Four equipped with a 150-ton revolving crane. The appearance of this vessel effectively ended the piece-by-piece construction practice offshore. Both jackets and decks could be built as modules and transported offshore to be set in place by the high-capacity cranes. The increased crane capacity coupled with bigger pile hammers allowed offshore structures to be supported by fewer, but larger, piles. In 1953,McDermott introduced a 250-ton capacity derrick barge. Brown & Root followed with the Herman B (250-ton gantry crane) and L.T. Bolin (300-ton hammerhead crane). North Sea activity spurred another evolution in floating crane design leading to huge semisubmersible derrick barges with lift capacities in excess of 10,000 tons.

Recognizing the pioneering efforts of the following people and companies who contributed to the development of this technology:

Roger Wilson, Charley Graves, Nelson Crews, and Lou Stewart, Frank Motley Ferd Hauber.  Brown & Root International (Halliburton), J. Ray McDermott Company (now McDermott International)

In the early days of the industry it was important to develop reliable foundation designs for offshore structures. McClelland Engineers, Inc. pioneered the application of soil mechanics and foundation engineering (now called geotechnical engineering) for the foundation design for both fixed and mobile offshore platforms.

First it was necessary to determine the composition of the seafloor. The first marine soil mechanics boring was performed in August 1947 for the California Co. in 22 feet of water at a proposed platform site offshore Louisiana. It was drilled by a conventional land rig placed on a small platform designed and fabricated by McClelland Engineers. In the next six years about twenty similar borings were done along the Texas/Louisiana coastline. In 1953, Robert Perkins developed the technique of drilling from an anchored barge with a land rig cantilevered over the side.

In 1962, wireline sampling in uncased boreholes was introduced and became a cost effective procedure for conducting geotechnical investigations in deep water. In 1966, the remote vane was developed to make in situ measurements of clay shear strength from floating vessels.

In addition to determining the consistency of foundation materials, the technical contributions to the design of offshore foundations by McClelland Engineers were equally pioneering. In 1953, Bramlette McClelland and John Focht made landmark analyses of lateral load tests on offshore piles resulting in an ASME paper titled, “Soil Mechanics Applied to Mobile Drilling Structures”. In 1956, they introduced the concept of limiting skin friction of stiff clays for driven piles, and they proposed the technique, now known as the “p-y concept”, for the analysis of laterally loaded piles. API RP2A reflects their research on the tensile capacity of driven and jetted piles in sand. During the 1960s, they developed comprehensive criteria for predicting capacity of driven and grouted single piles or circular pile groups in sands and soft marine clays. This program was paralleled by research on clay shear strength as influenced by different sampling and testing methods.

Recognizing the pioneering efforts of the following individuals and companies who contributed to the development of this technology:

John A. Focht, Jr., Bramlette McClelland, and Robert L. Perkins
McClelland Engineers, Inc. (Fugro-McClelland Marine Geosciences, Inc.)

Getting the hydrocarbons from the platform offshore to where it was to be processed onshore required pipelines. Brown & Root laid pipelines in Galveston Bay as well as the first oil pipeline in the Gulf of Mexico to connect the early Creole (now ExxonMobil) platform to shore. The first “offshore” pipeline (10-inch, concrete coated) 10 miles long, in the Gulf of Mexico for gathering gas from the Cameron field, was constructed by Brown & Root in 1954. Frank Motley built the first ramp to allow the pipeline operations. Carl Langner advanced technology with the articulated stinger for the S-Lay technique used in deep water. Sammy Collins (Submarine Pipelines, Ltd.) was responsible for the development of controlled flotation pipelaying technology–pulling the pipeline out from shore supported by pontoon barges. Gurtler Hebert developed the fixed reel pipelaying barge in 1961. Dr. Yoram Goren was responsible for the development of the reel ship in 1975, and the Choctaw, the first semi submersible pipelay barge.

Recognizing the pioneering efforts of the following people and companies who contributed to the development of this technology:

Bennie Lynn Frennesson, R. A. Turrentine, “Ox” Hinman and Willie Schoolcraft

The first installation of an oil industry subsea pipeline by unspooling a long, continuous length of pipe wound on a reel took place on September 1, 1962, in the Gulf of Mexico. The 12-mile line was installed for Standard Oil Co. of Texas by New Orleans-based Aquatic Contractors & Engineers, Inc. a subsidiary of Gurtler Hebert Contractors, using its U-303 lay barge. The continuous pipe was made by welding joints together onshore.  Ancestor of the Aquatic system was a reel-type barge developed by the British military with British oil company assistance during World War II. Part of what was called Operation PLUTO (Pipe-Line Under The Ocean), it was used to lay six 3-in. steel lines across the English Channel from the U.K. to France in 1944, immediately following the D-Day invasion, to provide a continuous supply of gasoline to Allied armies. The California Co.’s (CALCO) support was instrumental in Aquatic improvements that made spooled pipe viable for crude oil and gas transport.  At the time, CALCO and Standard of Texas were both subsidiaries of Standard Oil Co. of California (now Chevron). Aquatic proved 1-1/2 to 6-in. diameter line pipe with polyethylene coating could withstand bending during spooling without loss of pressure integrity. Innovations over PLUTO equipment included a 40-ft. diameter hydraulic motor- powered reel; a hold-back brake (tensioning device) for spooling pipe; a level winding unit to guide pipe; hangers to support pipe on the downrap of the reel; and straightening rollers to relieve pipe deformation during unspooling. A major advantage of spooled pipe was being able to pull a riser through a J-tube. From 1962 to 1975, the U-303 installed over seven million ft. of pipe in water depths to 350 ft. Subsequently, Aquatic became a division of Fluor Ocean Services, which in turn built the Fluor RB-2, a larger reel barge capable of laying lines to 12-in. diameter. Later, Fluor was merged with Santa Fe Engineering Services, now GlobalSantaFe Corp., which then constructed the first large reel pipe lay ship.   

Recognizing the pioneering efforts of the following individuals and companies that contributed to the development of this technology:

Bob Cross, Fritz Culver, Pat Tesson, Aquatic Contractors & Engineers, Inc. (now Transocean), and the California Company (now Chevron).

Marine structures are particularly suited for reliability analysis and reliability-based design because of the randomness and uncertainties in the loading caused by extreme wave, wind, current and earthquake conditions and the uncertainties in the strength of marine structures. Reliability analysis is a process for evaluating the randomness of loads and resistances in order to estimate the reliability of the structure, i.e., the probability that it does not fail during its lifetime. Reliability-based design is a procedure for achieving structural designs with sufficiently high reliability.

Reliability analysis has been particularly useful in assessing existing structures that have suffered damage or experienced changes in loading conditions, and in deciding among alternative remedial actions. For the design of new structures, a procedure called Load and Resistance Factor Design (LRFD) has been developed that helps size each component of a structure without embarking on a complex reliability evaluation. The factors are based on probabilistic parameters that characterize load and resistance uncertainties and randomness. New designs using LRFD and advanced reliability methods are more efficient than old designs because the reliability among structural components is better balanced and steel is placed where it does the most good. These reliability-based procedures have been incorporated in the development of new API and ISO standards for the design of marine structures.

Following are some of the many individuals who pioneered in the development of this technology for marine structures:

Michael J. Baker, Henrik O. Madsen, Robert G. Bea, Peter W. Marshall, C. Allin Cornell, Torgeir Moan, Michael Efthymiou, Fred Moses, Svein Fjeld, Bernhard Stahl, Ove Gudmestad, Wilson H. Tang, Richard D. Larrabee, Paul H. Wirsching, James R. Lloyd

The early years of offshore installations were enabled by the extension of many onshore technologies. Such was the case in driving piles with steam hammers during the installation of offshore production platforms. Since the pile driver was located on the surface, piles had to have additional length to reach from the top of the jacket to the ocean floor. In many cases this extra length was not part of the structural component – simply an “add on” (often called a “follower”) to bridge the gap between the surface and the top of pile underwater. The “follower” length was limited by the working distance under the barge crane and the weight of the hammer assembly, both of which created extra handling problems and bending stress on the pile body. 

As long as water depths and jacket heights were limited, these disadvantages were outweighed by the years of experience that came with driving “from the top”. However, as projected water depths for platforms began to approach 1000 feet, it became obvious that underwater driving would be the long-term solution. Today, hydraulic pile drivers are capable of driving piles in water depths up to 10,000 ft. The center for underwater hammer development was the in the North Sea, with significant efforts by Menck GmbH, HBM and later IHC Hydrohammer b.v.

Interestingly, the first actual usage was in the Gulf of Mexico in 1977, on Shell’s Cognac platform. This was followed closely by several jobs in the North Sea, and by 1987 over 600 piles had been driven by underwater pile drivers. Today, massive pile drivers with over 2½ million ft-pounds of net energy output are available, and piles of varying diameter have been driven over 600 feet into the seafloor in installations worldwide.

The underwater pile driver was literally a game changer in the ability to install foundations in deepwater. Because of its efficiency in energy transfer, and the fact that “followers” were not needed thus considerably reducing the handling issues, underwater hydraulic pile drivers have also been used extensively in shallower water.

Underwater hydraulic pile drivers provide a robust and versatile method for installing driven piles for offshore developments. They have been used to install the foundations for fixed platforms in both deep and shallower water, and the foundations for a range of floating production systems including TLPs and SPARS, as well as FPSOs and FLNGs, along with a variety of subsea infrastructures in shallow to ultra-deepwaters. Recent developments have seen the pile driving equipment installing drilling conductors in water depths beyond 7,200 ft, saving significant rig time and increasing the overall level of safety and efficiency on the job.

Recognizing the pioneering efforts of the organizations that pioneered this technology:
IHC Hydrohammer b.v. (Marwede Group), Menck GmbH

Human Factors Engineering is a specialized discipline that focuses on human behavioral (i.e., social, hysiological, psychological) and physical (i.e., size, strength, endurance) capabilities and limitations to produce designs and management systems which improve human systems interactions to improve safety. HFE is an enabler of Health Safety Security and Environment (HSSE) performance. In the early 1990s Shell became convinced that designs in the Gulf of Mexico could benefit from HFE reviews by individuals schooled in the technology. Many changes were made; most notably to labelling, stairways, ladders, access platforms and control room design.

HFE reviews have resulted in an estimated reduction in life cycle costs of 3 to 6% and a significant reduction in accidents. Taking HFE into account assures the design matches the capabilities of individuals using the equipment. This increases safety by making it more likely that individuals, while under stress,
will take the appropriate action and be capable of responding quickly.

Recognizing the pioneering efforts of the following individuals and organizations that contributed to this technology:
Frank Amato, Mike Curole, Dan Godfrey, Denise McCafferty and Gerry Miller
G. E. Miller and Associates, Paragon Engineering Services (now AMEC Foster Wheeler)
and Shell

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