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Author Topic: Life on an oil platform  (Read 767 times)

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Offline Milton Rail

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Re: Life on an oil platform
« Reply #15 on: March 25, 2020, 01:18:33 PM »
No bother Laurence  :thumbsup:

No booze offshore these days Joe, we get some 0% beer out for high days and holidays.... there is a bottle of vodka in the medics safe, but that really is for medicinal reasons!  We use a lot of methanol offshore as a production chemical, if you ingest it... vodka is the antidote

Hi George, I think a well that goes straight down is the exception rather than the norm these days - with the modern tools available, the directional drillers can drop a drill bit into a target zone with amazing accuracy .... often you get better access to a reservoir if you come in from the side, depending on the geology ... others on the forum much more able to talk to that than I am.  You can get wells that go out 4 or 5 km in a horizontal direction

Offline chrism

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Re: Life on an oil platform
« Reply #16 on: March 25, 2020, 02:52:21 PM »
Hi George, I think a well that goes straight down is the exception rather than the norm these days - with the modern tools available, the directional drillers can drop a drill bit into a target zone with amazing accuracy .... often you get better access to a reservoir if you come in from the side, depending on the geology ... others on the forum much more able to talk to that than I am.  You can get wells that go out 4 or 5 km in a horizontal direction

Presumably for directional drilling the drilling head itself is powered with electric cables going down the hole, rather than being rotated by a shaft from a motor on the rig? Otherwise, I can't work out how the drive shaft gets around the corners.

Offline GWR_modeller

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Re: Life on an oil platform
« Reply #17 on: March 25, 2020, 03:58:58 PM »
There is a nice museum on Stavanger sea front about the oil industry.  Is there one in the uk?  I was killing time for a few hours before a flight and got a bus into town.  I had to go alone, not disimilar to the reaction I get when I ask the domestic overlord about visiting a railway show.  Otherwise the closest I get to the oil industry is a plastic bag or a petrol pump.

Offline Milton Rail

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Re: Life on an oil platform
« Reply #18 on: March 25, 2020, 04:36:31 PM »
Hi Chrism - I am pushing the boundaries of my knowledge here but the drill bit is powered by a mud motor .. the rig circulates the mud (a much more specialised & expensive fluid than the name implies!) down the drill string to drive the bit, the modern bits can be controlled really accurately with this method, and often there are tools added that gives real time feedback on position etc.    The Drill string is pretty flexible

Offline StufromEGDL

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Re: Life on an oil platform
« Reply #19 on: March 25, 2020, 05:11:17 PM »
Hi Gang,

Did a 4 month stint as the HeliTasker in the Falklands last year working incredibly closely with Brintels crew, engineers and Ops staff. To each individual, they put in a mammoth amount of themselves into achieving the job and I was proud to work with them and be accepted as part of their brethren. I have my Bristows and AAR polo shirts ( which are not given lightly) as a souvenir of my time there.
I also tasked them with the welfare runs at weekends taking servicemen/women and any families out on ‘penguin bothering’ trips...which they did cheerfully, despite the mundane and repetitive nature of the job.
I salute all those involved in the Heli industry and the general public are mostly unaware of the massive infrastructure and processes needed to get the product to their (literal) front door.

I may go back in a bit to do the HeliTasker job again if they need/want me, but for now I will ply my fixed wing trade.

Later,
Stu in LCRA
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Offline njee20

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Re: Life on an oil platform
« Reply #20 on: March 25, 2020, 09:42:56 PM »
Fascinating! Thank you.

Offline Milton Rail

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Re: Life on an oil platform
« Reply #21 on: March 27, 2020, 08:04:15 AM »
When I arrived on the rig, a decision has been made to delay a full facility outage until a couple of days after I had arrived, so that I wasn't walking straight into it ... so after a couple of days to get settled in, we started to shut down the platform, this is something that happens periodicaly to allow maintenance of bits of kit that we can't do when it is running - this one was relatively long and was expected to last about 10 days - the main activities were to do repairs on our sea water system.  we have 3 large pumps that lift seawater and we filter it and then use it in lots of ways .. including our supply of Potable water .. so a ffew arrangements had to be put in place to give us a temporary supply from the firewater system.

Shutdowns are, by design, high intensity periods, round the clock working and lots of scopes being carried out simultaneously, large & small to minimise the overall duration ... but there is always one, sometimes 2, scopes that are known as "critical path" i.e. the whole duration has been built around these main activities and we need to keep them on track to avoid any over-run.  I am pleased to say our shutdown went really well, no-one hurt and we came back up a day early ... normally we would celebrate things like that, but while the shutdown was in progress, the Covid 19 situation took a grip of the UK and it had become the number one talking point on the rig ....

Of primary concern to all onboard was how it was affecting their families and loved ones at home, we also had news coming out that the Shetlands was becoming a bit of an early UK hotspot ... this was a concern for us as we transit through there ... thankfully they seem to have contained it there and the number of confirmed cases has been stuck at 24 for over a week now.  Measures were being put in place both onshore and offshore, trying to identify vulnerable adults who were currently offshore, make plans to get them home, prevent those who were due to mobilise from travelling and also implement screening measures onshore.... from the 1st day I arrived, I was maybe spending 2% of my time on Covid 19, as I write this today, it is nearer 70% of my time each day!

As you might imagine, not easy to put physical distancing measures in place offshore, but we are trying, been actively reducing the numbers offshore so that people can be spread out a bit more around the cabins, stopping activity .... strange times indeed

While I was writing down the story of my commute ... I have been reflecting back on the other interesting ways I have had to get to work - I have been lucky and privileged to work in some amazing places, most recently Angola, where initially we used to fly from Luanda up to a small port in the north called Soyo, a small fixed wing affair - from there we would get a helicopter out to the facility, in Angola the facilities are what known as FPSO's, Floating Production & Storage Operations - the one I was on was a converted supertanker .. so we used the old storage and filled the deck above with processing equipment - there was some amazing technology on the front of the vessel, a massive swivel that allowed us to windmill in the sea and wind, but connected us to the seabed some 2,200m below... all the wells there were subsea, which had it's own challenges in such deep water ... the area the wells were spread out over was about the size of Greater London, from memory, think the farthest away well from the boat was 29km

Things changed there when the tragic helicopter crash in Norway occurred and we moved away from helicopters and started crew changing by boat ... now we had started doing that in Azerbaijan when I worked there.... but it was an entirely different prospect here... the Caspian is effectively a large lake! ... where we were in Angola was the Atlantic.... and we were right in the path of the outflow of the Congo river.....  there was also the matter of distance, in the Caspian it was about a 3 hour journey ... and while it could get rough, it wasn't too long to survive (though many Azeri's were not good seafarer's!) ... to get to our facility in Angola... it was an 8 hour boat journey...... not so bad going out as you were going with the congo outflow ..... but going back in was a different matter entirely .... and I found out the Angolan's were not great seafarer's either!  One of the big debates down there was how long you spent offshore .. for the expats, you did a 4 week trip, the Angolan's tended to do 3 weeks ... on my boat we mainly all did 4 week trips and there was push back on that from the Angolans they wanted to do 3 week trips (this was when we used helicopters for fast tansfers) .... when we moved to boats .... that chat all stopped and I think some of them would have happily done 6 week trips, just to avoid the boat transfers!!

In both cases, when you arrived at the facility, you had to prepare to be "frogged" up and down ... A frog is basically a personnel transfer device, varying from 3 seats up to 10 ... it is self righting, it floats and has a steel frame around you for protection ... but you climb in, buckle up, then get lifted up by the facility crane ... hoping that the crane op is in a good mood and gives you a gentle landing! this is by far the most civilised method of "frogging" ... others include a "Billy Pugh" ... a large net you climb into and hang on for dear life.... or in some cases ... just a swing rope that you use to swing across the gap between boat and rig.... an internet search of Billy Pugh will give you an idea of what I am talking about

when I was working on the 1000 mile pipeline between Azerbaijan & Ceyhan in Turkey, I had some wonderful journeys thorugh rural NE Turkey, one memomorable 8 hour drive from one pump station to another through beautifil snow capped mountain ranges, deep blue skies and frugal roadside diners with humble but amazingly tasty fare.  I have also been called out to the Hound Point Terminal in the River Forth, just east of the Rail Bridge in a force 9 gale, on the small passenger ferry we used, to respond to a fire alarm that had activated and needed investigating ....

I am drifting off topic here, but while I worked in Grangemouth, I got a couple of trips in the surveillance chopper that we used to monitor the pipelines that criss-cross Scotland, travelling from Cruden Bay in the north down to Grangemouth, then over to Finnart on Loch Long in the west ... a couple of memorable moments occur to me - One flight was nearing the Erskine Bridge and over the radio I could hear a request from an Royal Navy Sea King pilot, asking for permission from Glasgow Airport tower to underfly the bridge.... the tower refused and my pilot shook his head and said over the headset ... they will still do it... they work on the basis it is easier to ask for forgiveness than permission

Another pilot on a second flight lived quite near my house and he said he had left something at home and actually landed in his back garden! Much to the disgust of his next door neighbour who was out in her back garden on a sun lounger!.... needless to say the downdraft made short work of her neatly arranged picnic and bedding ... after we lifted off again, I asked about the Glider center that was in that area and how did they cope with them in the skies.... he said they use the same philosophy as the RAF ..... "if we see you, we will try to avoid you"   funny the things that stick with you!

Anyway, enough of my ramblings, I better get some work done   :beers:

Online Bealman

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Re: Life on an oil platform
« Reply #22 on: March 27, 2020, 08:38:48 AM »
Absolutely riveting stuff.  :thumbsup:

Keep it coming!  :beers:
Vision over visibility. Bono, U2.

Offline emjaybee

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Re: Life on an oil platform
« Reply #23 on: March 27, 2020, 09:05:15 AM »
Thanks for the latest episode.

What is your job title and what does your job entail on the platform?
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Offline Milton Rail

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Re: Life on an oil platform
« Reply #24 on: March 27, 2020, 10:13:15 AM »
Hi Emjaybee - official title is Offshore Installation Manager, usually known as OIM, or the office where the buck stops!  I have responsibility for all the souls onboad, controlling the work they do, how they do it, I run the emergency response should there be an incident, but we also have to do regular drills as well.  When I was working in the Labs back in Grangemouth refinery in the early 90's, I remember reading a story in the Sunday Times Magazine (my folks got it religiously every week .... it was as close to religion as they came) about OIM's in the north sea and how at that time they were being head-hunted into the city of London (definitely not the case these days!) ... but what caught my eye was how the situations they had to deal with ranged from emergency landings by helicopters to a shortage of tomato ketchup in the galley and everything in between!!

I had no plan how I would ever get there, as at the time, it was unheard of for someone in the downstream part of the company to get jobs in upstream.... but times have changed and I have been lucky along the way, been in the right place at the right time and in the eye of people who trusted me ...  its a challenging job, especially at the moment, but I do enjoy it in the main and it affords me a good balance of time at home, the rota I work is 3 on, 4 off, 3 on & 5 off .... I don't think I could survive a desk job these days!

Offline JonHarbour

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Re: Life on an oil platform
« Reply #25 on: March 27, 2020, 10:25:55 AM »
Many years ago I worked for ADMA-OPCO, the offshore oil company in Abu Dhabi. Whilst I wasn't actually based on the rigs, I have been out to them a couple of times on the choppers. I worked in IT supporting the maintenance management system that was used to manage shutdowns and routing maintenance as described by Milton Rail. The critical path is everything and being remote locations they have to be planned to the nth degree as all the necessary parts down to the last nut and bolt have to be ready to go when needed.

My first experience flying out  to a rig was really novel. I was supposed to have done the requisite survival training in order to fly out to the rigs, which involves being strapped into an old helicopter frame and dunked upside down into a massive swimming pool and then making my way back to the surface of the water, but I must have been sick or something when that training was done, as I never attended it! So, I found myself marching out to what looked like a Vietnam-era Huey with 12 other pax at Abu Dhabi airport in the early hours of a Saturday morning. We got into the cabin and strapped on a pouch which was our life vest and fastened our seat belts. The choppers there fly with only a pilot, so they put one of the passengers in comms contact with the pilot via a headset. So there I was, minding my own business when suddenly I found some headphones and a mike being put on me. The pilot was South African I think, and it was fairly obvious I was the only native English speaker on the flight so I was comms! The pilot was there shouting "speak to me! Speak to me! Can you hear me?" I was still futzing around with my life vest and he was shouting "Press the black button to speak to me!" I had no idea what I was doing but eventually figured it out. The pilot must have thought I was a complete idiot.

Anyway, the main job I had was to tell the pilot when the doors were shut, so he knew when he could lift off - time was money. It ended up being like this crazy bus ride. We flew for a couple of hundred kms over the Persan gulf and then a rig would come into sight. Nobody knew which one it was and because of the design you had no idea where the helipad was until you touched down! When it did touch down, the ground crew would open the door and hold up an A3 piece of paper with the rig name on it in huge letters. We'd all look blankly and eventually somebody would twig this was their stop (inevitably it was the guy in the most inconvenient seat who had to clamber over everyone to get out) and they would get out. We ended up at a super complex called Umm Shaif which was my stop. I was there to do a demonstration of SAP to some of the maintenance planners (we were evaluating SAP at the time) and once my day was up, I was back on a chopper home. I did get an insight into life on the rig and it was a real eye-opener. Until that moment, I had kind of regarded the guys offshore as a bit of a pain who disrupted my daily routine when they had a problem, but after seeing the conditions under which they lived and worked, I realised that they really needed as much help as I  could possibly give them.

I had another equally interesting adventure going to an offshore island called Das Island used as an oil and gas storage facility, but that is another story...
Still planning a layout...

Online Bealman

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Re: Life on an oil platform
« Reply #26 on: March 27, 2020, 10:34:45 AM »
Geez, another dark horse!  ;)

I'm really enjoying these stories. About the closest I can claim is that I have a degree in geophysics (seriously!), but know nothing about this sort of life.


Thanks for sharing, guys!  :beers:
Vision over visibility. Bono, U2.

Offline Milton Rail

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Re: Life on an oil platform
« Reply #27 on: March 27, 2020, 10:36:05 AM »
That is quite a story...... in Azerbaijan, the condition of our choppers was significantly better than those of the state oil company .... and that was relatively recently

Offline JonHarbour

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Re: Life on an oil platform
« Reply #28 on: March 27, 2020, 11:53:11 AM »
Don't get me wrong here... the chopper was in brilliant condition. It just looked to me that if you took the side doors off, painted it in camouflage paint and put a big machine gun either side it wouldn't have looked out of place in Apocalypse Now or Full Metal Jacket or any other of the Vietnam War movies! The side gunner seats I quickly learnt were the best places to sit. They got two people each side in those but they had better leg room. There were nine passengers in the main cab, four facing forwards and five facing backwards, and you were so close together that your knees were right next to the guy opposite's meat and two veg! We all had to wear ear protectors because of the engine noise. The main rotor was directly behind the two middle forward facing guys.
Still planning a layout...

Offline RailGooner

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Re: Life on an oil platform
« Reply #29 on: March 27, 2020, 02:42:29 PM »
..
I am drifting off topic here
...

You carry on fella, it's all fascinating reading. :beers:
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