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Stainless Braves the Elements


Posted 1 December 2002

Advanced engineering solutions are required to handle conditions found on offshore drilling and processing platforms. The saltwater environment is highly corrosive, the flare presents extremes of temperature and the force of winds and currents is constant. The most durable and reliable materials need to be employed, which is why stainless steel plays and important part.

An impressive project making use of stainless' strength and corrosion-resistance is the Bayu Undan Gas Project in the Timor Sea, 5OOkm north of Darwin (pictured). Here, stainless steel is used to line the 18" pipelines between the processing platform and the wellhead platform 8km distant and in thousands of metres of pipes throughout the installation.

SPECIALIST BRIDGE BEARINGS
Stainless steel and high nickel alloy bearings support various bridges, including a 225m long bridge from the drilling platform to the flare. The bearings have been designed by specialist engineering and manufacturing firm Ludowici Ltd of Sydney, working closely with the project consultants TIGA JV of Perth. The bearing shown above is mirror polished to slide ±600mm while supporting a 900 tonne load, with operating temperatures up to 220°C due to the flare. In addition to continuous wave action, the bearing is designed to withstand 160 tonnes of transverse load due to gale force winds during tropical cyclones, as well as "bumps" during installation.

Bayu Undan is a project of Phillips Petroleum Company Australia Pty Ltd. Gas and liquid hydrocarbon reserves were discovered in 1995. It is estimated that the 25km by 15km field has a 25 year life and reserves of 350-400 million barrels of hydrocarbon liquids and 3.4 trillion cubic feet of gas. Work on the site is proceeding with full commercial production due by 2004. The first phase of the development, representing a US$1.4 billion investment, involves production and processing of wet gas. A second phase is planned to harvest the field's gas reserves.

Ludowici became involved in Bayu Undan in mid 2001, when it was chosen to design, manufacture, test and supply eight highly complex stainless steel pot-type bearings.

The design team drew on technical expertise of the Australian Stainless Steel Development Association and the Nickel Development Institute to produce a suitable design.

BUILT TO WITHSTAND WIND, WAVES AND WATER
The brief presented some unique challenges including massive steel superstructures requiring high-strength low-friction supports, to be left maintenance-free in a remote, aggressive tropical marine environment. Some were required to have uplift capacity, all were to be resistant to salt build-up, and all were required to be virtually maintenance free for a 25 year life. Whilst the majority of the bearing components ('pot' cylinders and pistons) were made from 316 and 316L stainless steel, the large-movement slide plates were made from grade 2205 duplex stainless steel, with a facing of polished Inconel 625, fully TIG welded around its perimeter. Thermal coefficients of expansion of mating parts were matched. Assembled bearings were tested in overload and friction, both at ambient temperature at 140°C.

The bearings were fabricated at the firm's Castle Hill, Sydney factory and transported to Batam, Indonesia where they were incorporated into the structure for the final trip to site.

The bearings measure up to 2m long and weigh up to 3 tonne each with attachments plates. They were also designed to withstand severe impact during installation.

The various bridges, platforms and piping are currently bring assembled.

For more information on Bayu Undan, visit www.offshore-technology.com/projects/bayu-undan

This article featured in Australian Stainless magazine - Issue 23, December 2002.

Lissel Pilcher