SOURCE: Balmoral Offshore Engineering

May 01, 2012 08:52 ET

Deepest Ever Drill Riser Buoyancy Unveiled at OTC

HOUSTON, TX--(Marketwire - May 1, 2012) - Balmoral Offshore Engineering, the Aberdeen-based deepwater buoyancy, insulation and elastomer product specialist, introduced two additions to its drill riser buoyancy portfolio at the OTC.

The new materials, Durafloat Superlite and Durafloat Superlite-X, are rated to operating depths of 15000ft; typically 3000-5000ft deeper than industry-standard drill riser buoyancy.

The syntactic foams are an extension to the company's existing Durafloat range and were developed by the technical and engineering teams in Aberdeen as part of a six-figure R&D investment program.

With the launch of the new materials Balmoral anticipates increased levels of demand for its drilling buoyancy creating a potential jobs boost in Aberdeen of up to 50 people. A conservative estimate puts the global drill riser buoyancy market in excess of £200m annually.

Drill riser buoyancy provides 'uplift' by effectively decreasing the submerged weight of the steel riser joints, which run between the drilling vessel and the blow-out preventer (BOP) on the seabed.

According to Jim Hamilton, Balmoral's international business development director, drill riser buoyancy can no longer be looked upon as a 'commodity' product.

"Drilling operations in waters of great depth and high currents -- such as the Gulf of Mexico and offshore Brazil -- demand the deployment of ultra-heavy riser strings," he said.

"Deepwater buoyancy modules are also substantial in size and weight and are susceptible to damage caused by vessel motion and strong ocean currents.

"That's why we had to look at the development of a lower density, lighter weight material that would operate successfully beyond the 12000ft previously offered. It was stressed in the design brief, however, that the new system should not incur a cost penalty and I'm delighted to say that this has been achieved."

Balmoral's technical and engineering teams were tasked with developing the lighter syntactic material for use at operational extremes of 15000ft.

Technical director, Dr. Bob Oram, said: "Having successfully developed our range of Durafloat riser buoyancy to working depths of 12000ft it became clear, as the industry moves into ever-deeper waters, that further product development was required.

"However, the essential increase in mechanical performance demanded to operate at these depths cannot be accompanied by a reduction in available buoyancy, and so foam density reduction was targeted alongside mechanical performance improvement.

"With the addition of Durafloat Superlite and Durafloat Superlite-X, Balmoral Offshore Engineering now offers market-leading densities and performance levels across the entire spectrum of drilling operations.

"In very simple terms, you get more uplift for your money."

Jim Milne, Balmoral's chairman and managing director, who is attending his 37th OTC, concluded: "We are proud to offer clients real solutions to their challenges. Our commitment to research is second to none and has helped us become the drilling industry's buoyancy manufacturer of choice."

Notes to editor
Balmoral Offshore Engineering is a division of Balmoral Group Holdings Ltd, a privately owned company based in Aberdeen, Scotland. Employing over 400 people Balmoral has been providing solutions to the energy, engineering, marine, building, polymer engineering and processing sectors since 1980.

Contact Information

  • Press contact
    Steve Gibb
    Group Public Relations Manager
    Balmoral Group
    Tel +44 (0)1224 859000
    Mobile +44(0)7702 371543
    Email s.gibb@balmoral.co.uk