After a major offshore inspection job in Brazil, Welaptega Project Manager Luke Williams is well-positioned to explain the details of planning, executing, and processing the complex work that goes into a offshore inspection of multiple assets.
We asked Luke to detail Welaptega’s recent work in Brazil, learning what goes into the 24-hour work cycle of offshore inspection, and how oil and gas producers gain crucial benefits from establishing a data-rich baseline for the degradation of their mooring systems.
Can you tell us about your work at Welaptega, and your most recent project in the field?
I’m a project manager here, and I’m responsible for planning and coordinating the offshore and special campaigns. That’s everything from organizing the mobilization in the Halifax office to securing the crew and dealing with logistics.
My last job was in Brazil. I did two five-week stays offshore with a two-week break in the middle. We inspected five different offshore assets for a company called Modec, a floating production systems company that’s based in Japan, but has quite a large operation in Brazil. Brazil’s offshore oil sector is booming and they have a lot of floating assets that require inspections.
How old are these Brazilian assets?
They have a mixture in Brazil. Most are new, or have been installed within the last 5 to 10 years, and there are more assets that are being installed all the time. So they’re quite busy there. I was lucky enough to do a major offshore campaign taking on five assets.
What’s the benefit to inspecting subsea equipment that’s been installed fairly recently?
Well, the earlier you do inspection work, the earlier you can set a baseline. Chain coming out of a manufacturing facility is checked for quality control. What the baseline we set does is let you track your degradation of the mooring system in future inspections.
So, for instance, if we’re doing an inspection within the first two and a half years, the client might assume that that is baseline, then we’ll come back every two to five years to do further inspections and basically monitor the chain degradation over time. That allows them to plan future chain replacement, or future mooring component replacement, so they can stay ahead of the maintenance.
Who gets on the boat when you’re doing an offshore job?
On our company side, it’s typically one or two techs and an engineer, depending on the coverage that we want. Things have grown this year, and we’re seeing that clients really want to do multi-asset campaigns, and with multi-asset campaigns it’s better to have more support for the guys offshore because of the length of the project. The demands of our clients are increasing, so we’re sending more technicians.
When we’re offshore we work 24 hours a day, every day. We typically have a one-to-one ratio with engineers to technicians: the engineer leads the project and the technician is there to support the 24-hour ops. The engineer works through the daytime, and coordinates with the client or client representatives offshore. The technician usually does the night shift.
There are other jobs where it’s two technicians for one engineer: the engineer coordinates the job with the clients and the other operations managers offshore. The two technicians ensure that data is rolling in 24 hours a day. In Brazil, we were collecting high-definition 3D video data for the client.
When your team gets back from the offshore job, what’s the next step in delivering essential data to the client?
After project execution happens, we come back to the office and we do quite a bit of processing work. While we’re offshore working with the remotely operated vehicle, we get data from a client’s mooring system. Whether that’s physical chain measurement data, or whether that’s visual data or pictures or 3D modeling images, we do quite a bit of processing work in the office to create the reports to deliver to the client.
If effective offshore inspection relies on technologies that are quite new, how does Welaptega’s two decades of experience manifest as a strength in the field?
With project engineering or project planning or project management, you need the foresight to think of the problems you’re going to face offshore. You have to plan for those things to happen, and communicate them ahead of time if you foresee them. I think that’s where experience is really an advantage.
We’re able to foresee challenges and we’re able to communicate those challenges better than some of the other players. Some other companies offer the equipment, but they don’t offer the level of expertise behind the inspection, and we really bring that. All of our technicians and engineers have knowledge of the classification codes and standards, and they understand how you apply those standards during the inspection.