Production – Equipment & Technologies

Coiled Tubing technology from the first patent memorandum (1959) and feasibility determination through its development into accepted workover, drilling and flow line/pipeline technology has had a major impact on drilling, completion and production both onshore and offshore.  Coiled tubing first used offshore in the mid 1960s had pipe quality problems accentuated by repeated bending of the tube and connections; however, through perseverance these issues were solved and the concept has developed into a dependable and economic concept.

Coiled Tubing technology provides a means for well re-entry that makes difficult horizontal and deepwater wells feasible and cost effective.  Via the continuous tube it provides a safe and economical means to successfully do completions and workovers under surface well pressure.  It has increased produceable reserves and prolonged the life of thousands of wells via its versatility in fishing, sand removal, recompletion, well diagnosis, and just about every well rework required.  It is ideal for horizontal and multilateral workovers, redrills, completions, side tracking and other operations in the realm of prolonging well life and adding reserves.  Under certain circumstances it has recently proven an effective drilling tool.

Coiled Tubing technology development over the last 50 years has become one of the most versatile tools for well and reserve management, including completions, workovers, drilling and flow line/pipeline operations.

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

Joe R. Brown, Cicero C. Brown, Charles B. Corley, Jr., William B. (Bill) Hansen Harry Pistole, Jim L. Rike , Albert L. (Al) Vitter, Jr. Brown Oil Tools (now Baker Hughes), Chevron, Humble Oil & Refining Co. (now ExxonMobil)

The ancestor of flexible pipe now widely installed in offshore oil and gas operations was a flexible drillstem developed by Institut Français du Pétrole (IFP) beginning in the 1950s for use with downhole electrodrills and turbodrills, the then predominant means of drilling in Russian oil fields.  IFP is a scientific research and industrial development, training, and information services center active in the fields of oil and gas.  Funded by the French government, IFP’s mission is to develop technology that can be licensed to French companies.   

Following an intensive R&D program with Russian participation, IFP produced its own Flexodrilling process.  However, cost and mechanical stress challenges proved insurmountable and focus was redirected to offshore flexible pipe applications.   

The first patent application titled “Undersea Transport of Fluids by Flexible Pipe” was filed in 1961.  Early flexible pipe (a combination of steel reinforcements and thermoplastic sheath for tightness) was optimized for mechanical and physico-chemical stresses (temperature, pressure, crude type) in placement and producing operations.  In the early 1970s, new dimensioning tools and a sealing sheath of polyamide l1 were incorporated.  In 1972, this led IFP to found the Coflexip company to commercialize the technology, with a focus on developing flexible pipe for pipeline use in the petroleum industry.   

Coflexip’s first commercial installation was in 1973 in Elf’s Emeraude Field, offshore the Congo.  Flexible pipeline applications continued to increase and the technology was broadened for use as risers for floating production, storage and offshore loading systems (FPSOS). Flexible pipe also has facilitated development of fields in remote areas because it can be shipped and installed from spools, thus minimizing the need for large lay vessels. 

Subsequent acquisition of several companies to broaden and complement its technology base, including a merger with Stena Offshore, enabled Coflexip to become both a supplier and installer of flexible pipe.  Then, in 2002, the company was purchased by Technip.   

Flexible pipe has progressed from small, low pressure pipe to pipe with inside diameters up to 19 inches and pressure ratings of up to 15,000 psi. Today flexible pipe is routinely used in global offshore oil and gas operations in water depths up to 2500 meters (8,000+ ft). 

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

Jany Feret, André Giraud, Institut Français du Pétrole; Jean Rigaud, Coflexip (now Technip FMC)

A major reduction in deepwater field development cost can be achieved by combining production flow from subsea wellheads to the host platform through the use of multiphase flowlines. Not separating production into its component phases at the wellhead allows field processing to be conducted with fewer personnel and with greater safety and efficiency.

In 1980, a major joint industry project began which dramatically improved the ability to predict phase behavior in subsea pipelines. In 1983, SINTEF built and operated an industrial laboratory in Tiller, Norway, that processed more than 10,000 data points, vastly expanding the knowledge of multiphase flow in large scale pipelines. Also, in the early 1980’s, the Institute for Energy Technology (IFE) developed a preliminary version of its OLGA software package which could simulate two-phase flow in pipelines. The difference between OLGA and previously developed software packages was its capability of simulating transient behavior such as slugging, one of the major operating problems encountered in pipelines. This new software hailed a new era in offshore production. Multiphase transport (transportation of oil, water and gas in the same pipeline) is an important reason why today’s petroleum industry can install an entire offshore production facility on the ocean floor, leaving operating personnel ashore, where it is cheaper, safer and more environmentally friendly to work than on board platforms depending on two-way helicopter transportation. These new transportation arteries on the sea bed have saved the petroleum industry huge financial outlays. They have also made it possible to develop oil and gas fields that would otherwise not have been profitable.

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

Kjell Bendiksen, Per Fuchs, Dag Malnes, Jon Rasmussen, Ivar Brandt, Zheng-Gang Xu, Lee Norris and Richard Shea.

The Institute for Energy Technology (IFE), SINTEF and the SPT Group.

Prior to the early 1990’s, the most common units for meeting produced water discharge regulations on offshore platforms utilized large four-cell induced gas flotation (IGF). As the need evolved to be able to handle higher flowrates on floating facilities the size and weight of four-cell IGF units and their susceptibility to vessel motion led to a search for other designs which were lighter, smaller and insensitive to vessel motion.

Earlier, Southampton University led an effort to determine whether hydrocyclones, which had been used for years to separate solids and liquids, could be modified to separate oil from skimmed sea water in oil spill clean-ups. This was the start of a fifteen year research effort to develop specific geometry for such a hydrocyclone. This basic work was taken by industry entrepreneurs and initially used for offshore facilities in Australia and the North Sea. While at first the use of hydrocyclone technology met with some skepticism and less than adequate performance, after the publishing of the results of the Esso Bass Straits testing in a 1985 OTC paper, and a Conoco 1987 OTC paper on how best to control
hydrocyclones in the water treating system, the industry began to use this technology. It has now become standard equipment on many offshore facilities worldwide.

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

Jim Cappi, Noel Carroll, William Carroll, Neville Clark, Derek Coleman, Peter Gould, Peter Harvey, J. J. Hayes, John MacIntosh, Neil Meldrum, David Parkinson,
G. J. J. Prendergast, Martin Thew, Phil Tuckett and John Weston BWN Vortoil, Conoco (now ConocoPhillips), Esso Australia, Serck Baker and Southampton University

Applying a technology used by the mining industry, the oil industry developed induced gas flotation technology to remove microscopic oil droplets from produced water so it could be disposed of in an environmentally acceptable way. In 1968, the Tretolite Division of the Petrolite Corporation developed an improved flotation unit. In 1972, the Clean Water Act was passed. It recognized induced gas flotation as the best available technology for oil/water separation. Several companies joined the race to capture the rapidly growing market. One company, Monosep, owned by Al George of Lafayette, Louisiana, joined with Unicel to develop an improved hydraulic technology called an eductor. Success led Monosep to introduce a multi-stage design to challenge 4-stage mechanical designs. Similarly, WEMCO and Petrolite introduced their own hydraulic designs.

Recognizing the pioneering efforts of the following individuals and organizations that contributed to this technology: Bob Bailey, M. Glen Basset, Paul Broussard, Vern Degner, Chris Jahn and Morris Place, Jr. Gulf Oil (now Chevron), Monosep (now Siemens), Shell, THUMS, Tretolite (now Baker Hughes), Unicel, and WEMCO, division of Cameron (now Schlumberger)

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 Exxon) 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 1954. Frank Motley built the first ramp to allow the pipeline to angle more gently from the lay barge to the ocean floor. This was further developed to the “stinger” used in today’s pipeline operations. Carl Langner advanced technology with the articulated stinger for the S-Lay technique used in deepwater. Sammy Collins (Submarine Pipelines Ltd.) was responsible for the development of controlled flotation pipe laying technology–pulling the pipeline out from shore supported by pontoon barges. Gurtler Hebert developed the fixed reel pipe laying 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:

Sammy V. Collins, Yoram Goren, Gurtler Hebert, Carl G. Langner, Frank Motley Brown & Root, Creole (ExxonMobil), Santa Fe International (GlobalSantaFe), Shell

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