Marine Technology Reporter Blogs

R/V Meteor – German Research Ship off Brazil

July 3, 2013

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The R/V Meteor research ship arrived in Fortaleza, Ceara, on Brazil’s Equatorial Margin last Friday, June 28th. The Meteor which has a complement of 30 scientists of different nationalities, including one Brazilian, left port on Monday as it begins another Atlantic crossing to Namibia in West Africa, where it is due to arrive on July 29th. Along the voyage the ship will be collecting samples and data from deep waters, to be analyzed by a multidisciplinary team of researchers, composed of chemists, biologists and physicists. The only Brazilian aboard is Marcio Pereira, a 63 year old professor of Oceanographic Physics from the Geophysics department of the Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte (UFRN), whose studies will be concentrated in variations of marine currents.

Efficient Drill Bits for the Pre-salt

July 23, 2013

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The expression "pre-salt" refers to an aggregation of rocks located offshore along large portions of the Brazilian and West African coasts, it forms a carbonate rock interval that ranges under an extensive layer of salt which, in certain areas of the Brazilian coast, can be as much as 2,000 meters thick. The total depth of these rocks formations, or the distance between the surface of the sea and the oil reservoirs under the salt layer, can be as much as 7,000 meters. Drilling in the pre-salt is extremely complex and may require multiple trips being made by the drill bit in order to drill short lengths due to different rock layers with varying degrees of hardness. Another challenge is that the salt is very corrosive and is also plastic, as you drill down, it tends to close the well walls.

Structural Collapse of Corroded Deepwater Pipelines Subjected to External Pressure

June 20, 2013

Deepwater O&G pipelines, used to transport oil and gas from offshore production units to onshore refineries, are subjected to the corrosive effects of salt water and to massive internal and external pressures. The risk of structural collapse in a pipeline is largely dependent on the levels of internal and external corrosion affecting pipe sections and on the amount of internal and external pressure on the pipe. Corrosion is a time dependent phenomenon that usually requires several years to produce a corrosion defect sufficiently large to cause a significant reduction in the collapse pressure of a pipeline. Consequently during installation it is considered that the pipeline is free of any metal loss due to corrosion.

Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion – Renewable Energy from the Sea

June 19, 2013

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According to OTEC International LLC (OTI), in 1870, Jules Verne introduced the concept of ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC) in his book, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. Within a decade, American, French and Italian scientists are said to have been working on the concept but the Frenchman, physicist Jacques-Arsene d’Arsonval, is generally credited as the father of the concept for using ocean temperature differences to create power. “I owe it all to the ocean; it produces electricity, and electricity gives heat, light, motion, and, in a word, life to the Nautilus.” Jules Verne, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. D’Arsonval’s student, Georges Claude, built the first OTEC power plant in 1930 in Cuba, which produced 22 kilowatts of electricity.

The Process Behind GTL Conversion

June 19, 2013

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Liquid hydrocarbon fuels can be produced from associated natural gas via a well-known catalytic chemical reaction called Fischer-Tropsch (FT) synthesis. The FT synthesis is a collection of chemical reactions that converts a mixture of carbon monoxide and hydrogen into liquid hydrocarbons. It was first developed by Franz Fischer and Hans Tropsch at the "Kaiser-Wilhelm-Institut für Kohleforschung" in Mülhei an der Ruhr (Germany) in the 1920s. During World War II, FT synthesis provided the needed liquid hydrocarbon fuels for the German war effort. Later, facing isolation during the apartheid era, South Africa turned to FT synthesis from coal gasification to supply significant quantities of its hydrocarbon fuel needs.

Offshore GTL – Transforming Natural Associated Gas to Liquid

June 19, 2013

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As gas flaring becomes more unacceptable from political and environmental viewpoints, oilfields with no viable associated gas solution may be required to curtail production or in the extreme case, cease production entirely. There is evidence globally that this is starting to occur and proposals for new oilfield projects in remote or deepwater locations must increasingly demonstrate how the associated gas will be processed without continuous flaring. Gas re-injection sometimes offers a solution but this is expensive for deep wells and not desirable for all reservoir structures. Gas-to-liquids (GTL) processes enable monetization of remote natural gas or other gaseous hydrocarbons by converting them into sulfur-free synthetic crude oil that can be easily transported by tanker.

Brazil’s O&G Market - mid 2013 Review

June 18, 2013

Brazil is the largest country in South America and its oil and natural gas markets have expanded massively in recent years, causing the resurrection of its shipbuilding industry as a bonus. The challenging deepwater development projects have high priority in investments both is subsea technology for deepwater field development and onshore and offshore logistics infrastructure. In recent years Brazil has experienced rapid growth in the petroleum sector. O&G production went from 1.5 million barrels per day in 2001 to 2.4 million b/d in 2010. Offshore production accounted for almost 90% of this figure in 2010. Yet there have also been large onshore natural gas discoveries…

World's Largest PLV

November 8, 2013

The extraordinary growth of the world subsea market over the past decade and the raising demand for O&G plays in deep and ultra-deep waters to begin production and for the deep and ultra-deep water drilling to continue in Brazil, at the GoM and in WA, has led to the development of a range of new offshore field development and support vessels, including a large new pipelay vessel, currently laying its pipelines along the GoM. Since 2012 Saipem has been operating the MV CastorOne, it is a ship-shaped pipelay vessel with an overall length of 330 m (excluding stinger) and DP 3 capable. The CastorOne was classed by ABS (American Bureau of Standards) and is also Ice classed, capable of berthing 700.

Ship-borne Invasive Species

June 15, 2013

Scientists have developed the first global model that analyses the routes taken by marine invasive species. The researchers examined the movements of cargo ships around the world to identify the hot spots where these aquatic aliens might thrive. Marine species are taken in with ballast water on freighters and wreak havoc in new locations, potentially driving native species to extinction. The research was published in the Journal Ecology Letters. As Brazil is experiencing a great increase in shipping, mostly due to the ongoing O&G boom spearheaded by huge deepwater pre-salt reservoirs recently being uncorked, this study can be considered of particular importance for Brazilian environmental agencies such as IBAMA…

Subsea Well Response Project to be launched in Brazil

June 15, 2013

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With the continued increase in deepwater drilling off the coast of Brazil, it is good to see that Petrobras, Brazil’s national operator, will soon have a well containment device ready for immediate deployment in case of a deepwater blowout such as was experienced in the Deepwater Horizon tragedy at the GoM. According to a Petrobras drilling inspector who prefers to remain anonymous, the Brazilian super-major player believes that their well drilling and completion systems are totally reliable as long as their safety procedures are followed, however, they are taking no chances and have joined forces with other major operators to increase drilling, completion and production safety standards worldwide.

A Monster Named Libra

June 18, 2013

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Back in 2009 I asked a good friend of my late father, who happened to be a long time Petrobras geologist, if he really knew the full potential of the pre-salt, after a while he looked up and said no not really, I know there are big fields out there, probably up to 10 billion boe in some reservoirs, possibly much more... Well, Petrobras kept on drilling and when Libra was found northeast of the Lula field (5 to 8 billion barrels boe), in 2010, the expectations ran high. Maybe 3.7 billion boe, maybe 15 billion boe. Probably 7.9, those are the numbers the ANP had in 2010. By May 2011 the ANP was downgrading it to 5 billion barrels boe.

Underwater Mountable Thrusters Preferred for Deepwater Drillship

June 15, 2013

Azimuth Thrusters have been propelling deepwater drillships for a number of years now. Not only do they propel the drillships from ports to their drilling stations but also undertake the vital task of maintaining the ship’s position during drilling operations. As most people know deepwater drillships do not anchor but maintain dynamic positioning through the use of groups of thrusters. Depending on the size of the drillship, these may be grouped in threes or fours, and are always positioned fore and aft on traditional drillships. These dispositions vary in semi-submersible drillers and cylindrical drillers such as those developed and used by Sevan Drilling.

AUV-towed Magnetometer Shows Potential in Seabed Survey

June 15, 2013

Marine Magnetics Corp from Markham, Ontario has successfully tested an AUV-towed Magnetometer. According to Doug Hrvoic president and owner of Marine Magnetics Corp, a company specialized in researching, developing and manufacturing marine magnetometers, OceanServer’s Iver2 AUV model was chosen for its design. “The Iver2 was designed to enable the integration of various sensors by a third party, and without direct involvement of the Iver developers,” says Bob Anderson, president of OceanServer Technology. “From a hardware standpoint, one approach has been to tow a sensor in the water column behind the AUV, and to connect a tow cable/electrical interface cable to a rugged…

University-Industry Relations Bringing Solutions for O&G Exploration in Brazil

June 15, 2013

Recently a research project managed by the Geosciences Institute of Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS) for BG Brazil chose a solution for petrographic knowledge and data management, developed by trading partners Endeeper and Carl Zeiss. The project titled: "Stratigraphical-Sedimentogical-Petrological Integrated Study of Rift Section of Santos and Campos Basins, in the east of Brazil” used a solution that integrates Petroledge and RockViewer systems of Endeeper with the Axio Imager A2 Pol microscope, equipped with AxioCam MRc scientific camera and ZEN Lite 2011 system from Carl Zeiss. Petroledge is a knowledge system for management of reservoir petrographic information.

Environmental Risks of Drilling the Brazilian Equatorial Margin

June 18, 2013

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With the 11th round of tendering for O&G block in Brazil set to start next week, it is important to look at some of the serious risks involved in drilling for O&G in Brazil’s Equatorial Margin. Most of the offshore blocks being tendered in this 11th round of bidding are located along Brazil’s northeast and north coasts. This, according to the Brazilian government, is being done in order to de-centralize O&G production in Brazil, where most of the oil and gas E&P is done along the southeast coast, basically centered off the states of São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Espirito Santo. This is all well and good, when considering the need to redistribute O&G wealth to other parts of the country…

Iatá-Piuna Expedition to the Rio Grande Rise

June 15, 2013

Iatá-Piuna means “Navigating in Deep and Dark Waters” in the Tupi-Guarani native indian language. That is the name of the expedition that recently explored the Rio Grande Rise and adjacent areas almost 1,500km from the coast of Rio de Janeiro in the Mid-Atlantic Ocean. The Iatá-Piuna expedition is a partnership between Brazil and Japan to explore what researchers believe is a continental mass that sank around 100 million years ago, during the break-up of Gondwana. Since 1985 there is a Technical and Scientific agreement between the Brazilian and Japanese governments and this latest expedition happened through an agreement between the Oceanographic Institute of the University of São Paulo (IOUSP)…

NODE Project in Brazil

June 18, 2013

The amount of new O&G related companies coming to Brazil continues growing and Norwegian companies are some of the most active in this respect. Innovation Norway, which is run by Norway’s Commercial Affairs Office at the Norwegian Consulate in Rio, has been highly supportive to Norwegian companies seeking to set-up in Brazil. NCE NODE, has a joint network project and is a Norwegian center of excellence, which has helped 25 companies to prepare for entry into the Brazilian offshore market. The network has now split into two. One network with four companies has already decided to establish a jointly-owned business in Brazil. The other network of eight companies are establishing a type of marketing network that is currently negotiating with companies in Brazil that can represent them.

New Subsea Center in Rio – Facing Challenges and Meeting Industry Demands

June 15, 2013

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With the continuous increase of subsea equipment and services companies setting up in Rio de Janeiro, including local companies, The State Government, through its State Office for Local Development (Secretaria Estadual de Desenvolvimento Econômico), has decided to create a subsea center in order to stimulate the sector and bring investments to subsea technology suppliers eyeing the Petrobras orders. Today there are around 35 subsea companies located in Rio (8 offering equipment and 27 offering services). These companies have a workforce of almost 1,200 employees, and the idea behind the subsea center is to attract suppliers and investors for these companies.

JIP Collapse Assessment of Offshore Pipelines with D/t < 15

June 15, 2013

Based on project experience, research, and joint industry development work, DNV issues a number of pipeline codes. These comprise service specifications, standards and recommended practices, and are highly regarded within the international pipeline community. The DNV OS-F101 ‘Offshore Standard for Submarine Pipeline Systems’ provides acceptance criteria and design procedures for pipelines. The standard applies modern limit-state-design principles with ‘safety classes’ linked to consequences of failure. The DNV standard is complemented by several recommended practices (RPs), which give detailed advice on how to analyze specific technical aspects according to stated criteria.

LNG Power for OSVs

June 15, 2013

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Rolls Royce and DNV engaged in a joint study of different fuel and engine configurations. The vessel selected for this study was the Rolls Royce designed UT 776 PSV. In the study, four alternative power system arrangements were considered, with two gas tank versions. The gen-sets were powered by various sizes of Bergen C-series diesel and gas engines and the dual fuel engine was a commercially available unit. For diesel and hybrids the assumption was that the exausts would have a SCR system giving a constant value of NOx reduction of 75%. In terms of cost, the diesel was the winner in the study as there is the added expense for other solutions of insulated LNG tanks.