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The growing challenge of conductor integrity in the Middle East

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE COMMON ISSUES YOU COME ACROSS IN YOUR CONVERSATIONS WITH OPERATORS?

Firstly I’d like to say that most operators are extremely diligent in understanding their inventory and potential issues, but nevertheless, it is relatively common to come across situations where conductors are more degraded than initially appeared. Claxton has worked on a number of projects – both in the UK and the Middle East – where conductors have failed or have communication between the annuli.

Often what we come across is a mixture of different issues – are we repairing or removing the conductor and what challenges does the platform itself pose in either situation? When you factor in that we’ve often been mobilised at relatively short notice, it gets interesting quickly! It’s fair to say the experience we have in-house is essential in approaching these issues and resolving them quickly.

WHAT ADVICE CAN YOU OFFER WITH REGARD TO THIS CHALLENGE? ARE THERE ANY EASY WINS?

The biggest thing I’d say is: Don’t wait. That’s obvious but we often see issues getting more costly or more difficult to deal with because of deferment.

A second big benefit of acting early is that you gain an ability to be more strategic in your approach to maximising your assets.

CAN YOU EXPLAIN WHAT OPERATORS GAIN FROM ACTING EARLY?

Sure – in simple terms, if you wait for a conductor to fail you are left usually with the option of cutting and recovering it. However, if you act early you could repair the conductor and/or inner casings and significantly extend its life, or you could take a look across your inventory and recover any number of platform slots with either low producing wells or older conductors and significantly extend your production.  We’re currently helping an operator in the Middle East with multiple slot recoveries like this.

Another example – we recently designed an entire replacement conductor guide array on a platform in the North Sea, in the process extending the operating life of the associated platform by two decades. Had the operator not been proactive in tackling the issue, then they might have lost the opportunity to extend the platform’s life.

CONDUCTOR INTEGRITY ISN’T A NEW ISSUE – CAN ANYTHING BE LEARNED FROM MARKETS OUTSIDE OF THE MIDDLE EAST?

Broadly speaking the offshore environment in the Middle East is more benign than in other regions such as the North Sea, which has given operators a bit more breathing space in terms of integrity.

I would say there’s plenty to learn from the North Sea; processes like conductor repair, slot recovery and removing conductors are well-proven and operators can benefit greatly from applying those.  I’d strongly advise reading more about those sorts of operations and their applications.

We’re really proud of our track record at Claxton – we’ve worked on over 280 cutting and recovery projects for instance – and we can apply all of that experience to assist operators in the Middle East from our Dubai base.

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