Parker Instrumentation Products Division has been actively involved with oil and gas companies operating in the North Sea throughout the 50+ year history of exploration and production. During this time we have helped to develop many of the specialist instrumentation valves, manifolds, tubes and fittings – and the necessary materials and manufacturing methodologies – that offshore platform operators need to ensure safe, long term equipment performance in some of the most demanding environmental conditions on the planet.
All of our customers can benefit from the knowledge that we have gained in the sourcing, production processing and use of corrosion resistant alloys such as 6Mo and titanium. It forms the premise to many of the seminars, workshops and training courses that we offer, which cover everything from initial materials selection to best practice installation.
Increased safety demands
Despite the fact that oil and gas were first discovered in the North Sea as long ago as 1963, it is still the most active offshore drilling region in the world, with over 170 rigs currently operating in the area – far more than in the Gulf of Mexico, or off the coast of West Africa or Brazil. However, it is estimated that over 50% of the North Sea’s oil resources have now been extracted. Recovery is consequently becoming much more difficult, with operators facing soaring production costs and diminishing returns. High profile accidents such as the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico have exacerbated the problem, leading to even more stringent safety demands.
The offshore industry is responding with an increased focus on long-term equipment performance and reliability, both for new platforms and for refurbishment projects. Corrosion continues to be the biggest threat, with the best defense being careful selection of high-quality materials to match application requirements.
Stringent materials standards
The Norwegian oil industry helped drive the take-up of better quality standards through its NORSOK initiative, aimed at improving the safety of equipment used in offshore applications through stringent materials processing standards. For instrumentation, the key NORSOK standard is M-650. This provides additional reassurance to instrumentation OEMs – and end users – that the quality and consistency of material used in the manufacture of a component has not been compromised by any of the processes used in its production. It is highly likely that NORSOK M-650 will be adopted by many companies for offshore applications – not just those operating in the North Sea – and it will also probably be incorporated in a future ISO standard.
Parker was the first company to market NORSOK M-650 compliant 6Mo valves, tubes, and fittings, in a move that required new manufacturing processes, test methods and quality management systems. Our initial products were designed for low-pressure applications up to about 6,000 PSI. We have since widened the choice substantially with our Autoclave coned-and-threaded medium- and high-pressure components that can also be made from 6Mo. The standard Autoclave product range includes ball valves with pressure ratings as high as 20,000 PSI and ball valves rated at up to 150,000 PSI – the applicable de-rating for NORSOK M-650 compliance depends upon valve type and size.
Deborah Pollard is Specifications Manager, North Sea, Instrumentation Products Division Europe, Parker Hannifin