Pipe dreams

25 March 2008

The Atlantis oil field is being developed in the Green Canyon sector of the Gulf of Mexico. Th e development of Atlantis involves several sub-sea wells and the pipelines to tie them back to the drilling and production platforms. At more than 7,000 feet deep, both the wells and the pipelines will be the deepest ever installed. Th e Atlantis field is set to produce 200,000 barrels of oil and 180 million cubic feet of gas per day.

Late last year, Macarthur “Mac” Carvin operated the 463,000 pound, 275 ton capacity Liebherr LR 1200 SX lattice crawler crane, carefully loading onto a barge the specialized pipe that will be used to form the pipeline for the Atlantis field. Rigged with 154 feet of main boom, 178,600 pounds of counterweight and 1,650 feet of five-part, 11/8 inch main lifting line, the crane carefully, gently and deliberately lifted its unique 52,000 pound load of 165 foot long “Pipe In Pipe” (PIP) and slowly made a 90º turn to the left. At the same time, while continuing the swing, Carvin raised the load about 75 feet in the air, enough to clear the bright orange stanchions on the barge. Once clear of these obstructions and at about 65 feet out from the crane's center-pin, the load was slowly lowered to the pipe cradle on the 100 foot by 400 foot ocean-going pipe barge.

First the Liebherr LR 1200 SX outloaded 212 80-foot double sections of similar pipe on the barge, two at a time. The nine 16 inch diameter, 165 foot quad (four-piece) sections were the last to be loaded onto the barge to safely balance the load. Each of the quad sections had an estimated value of $60,000. The total value of all the double and quad sections that would rest securely in cradles on the barge was estimated at $6.9 million. Deepwater pipelines are expensive and complex.

This was the first of five loads of the special PIP destined for the Atlantis oilfield. BP America Production Co. is developing the Atlantis field in Blocks 743 and 787. The sub-sea wells will be tied back to a semi-submersible Production Quarters (PQ) platform through several pipelines and umbilicals. Water depths range from 6,800 feet at the drill center in Block 743 to 7,050 feet at the PQ located in Block 787.

According to legend, Atlantis is a fabled island in the Atlantic that sank beneath the sea. In reality, however, Atlantis is one of the most exciting oil and gas properties in the Gulf of Mexico.

Discovered in 1998, the Atlantis field is about 185 miles south of New Orleans. The Atlantis production platform sits in a record water depth of 7,074 feet (2,156 meters). The field is the third largest discovered in the Gulf of Mexico, and will be developed using two facilities, a production and quarters (PQ) facility and a separate drilling facility.

Heerema Marine Contractors Nederland has been contracted by BP America Production Co. for the installation of four production pipelines, one test pipeline, and one water injection pipeline. Each pipeline consists of a fiowline section and a Steel Catenary Risers (SCR) section. The production and test pipelines are fabricated as PIP lines. These consist of a 10 inch inner pipe, a 16 inch outer pipe, plus special insulations. Each pipe thickness is more than 1 inch. The Water Injection (WI) pipeline is a single wall 10 inch line. The Atlantis fiowline and riser J-lay installation was scheduled to start in early 2007.

“The Bayou Companies operate under the philosophy that if we stress safety and quality in everything that we do then productivity is certain to follow,” says Mitch Carte, yard superintendent. “And that's the way we pursue every project that we undertake. Every man here is well aware that safety is our primary goal. We want everyone to go home in the a long-term rental with Essex Crane Rental for the crane. The crane's working radius ranged from 30 to 107 feet. The loads consisted of double and quadruple sections of pipe being lifted from storage racks on land and placed in cradles on a Crowley ocean going barge. The pipe sections are thoroughly secured to the barge to prevent any movement should they encounter bad weather in transit.

The Bayou Companies was formed in 1942 by E.S. (Ed) Shea, Sr. as one man with one truck welding shop. Since then the Shea family has been offering quality products and services to the oil and gas industry worldwide, growing into among the premier deepwater coating, insulation and prefabrication facilities on the Gulf Coast. The firm's services and products range from the industry standard fusion bonded epoxy (FBE) coatings to complex deepwater insulations, SCR welding capabilities, quad-joint fabrication, and everything in between.

The main facility in New Iberia, LA covers more than 200 acres and includes multiple barge, rail and truck loading/unloading capabilities and has all the facilities necessary to complement onshore, offshore, and even the most challenging of deepwater projects.

The Bayou Companies has two FBE coating plants on the site in New Iberia and one in Baton Rouge that can handle 2 inch to 48 inch pipe in up to 82 foot lengths. There are also multiple locations of custom coating plants which can apply FBE and other types of coatings to pipe fittings.

FBE coating is an industry standard, environmentally-safe thermosetting coating which is used as part of the cathodic protection of pipe. During the FBE process, the pipe surface is cleaned and heated before epoxy powder is sprayed onto the pipe surface. The powder melts onto the pipe and quickly dries into a uniform and controlled thickness.

A third Bayou Companies pipe coating plant is now under construction. This 50,000 square foot facility will specialize in FBE coatings. It is also designed to accommodate the advanced application of protective coatings and insulations now under development or yet to come.

In almost parallel high technology efforts, BP America Production Co., the Bayou Companies, and the Liebherr crane, are all pushing the envelope of expertise.

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D.Ann Shiffler Editor, American Cranes & Transport Tel: +1 512 869 8838 E-mail: d.ann.shiffler@khl.com
Matt Burk VP Sales Tel: +1 312 496 3314 E-mail: matt.burk@khl.com