Babcock beefs up

July 16, 2014

Babcock's site at Rosyth. Photo from Babcock. 

Babcock has its eyes on growth in the offshore upstream sector, including FPSOs and small topsides, after cutting its teeth on its first major project. Elaine Maslin paid a visit to the firm’s busy Energy and Marine Services team at their Rosyth facilities in Fife, Scotland.

Like a number of shipyards in the UK, Rosyth site is a former naval yard. It is now part of Babock International Group, and is not only the site where the UK’s largest warships are currently being assembled, but also structures for the oil and gas industry.

After a number of years outside oil and gas, the business scooped a contract for 73 subsea structures with BP. More recently, and while still completing the project for BP, it won a contract for a 160-tonne manifold for Total’s North Sea Grant and Ellon development, due for delivery in 3Q 2014, as well as work on Bibby Offshore’s vessel, Bibby Polaris, and engineering and design work on a walk to work platform.

The facilities at Rosyth have 27 fabrication/construction bays covering 27,000sq m, four main assembly bays and four paint shops, two of which were newly-built to accommodate the BP Quad 204 project (OE: July 2013).

To accommodate the Quad 204 project, Babcock carried out significant upgrades at the site, widening and heightening bay doors and installing one-two, new, 10-50- tonne cranes in most of the workshops. The site also has 40,000sq ft storage space, two, self-propelled transporters, and mobile cranes up to 250-tonne. Rosyth also has a 1000-tonne capacity Goliath crane. Load-out areas are certified up to 1.5-tonne/sq m.

“We saw a massive opportunity for opening the business up, to be one of the major integrators,” David Goodfellow, Babcock project director, oil and gas, said. “I don’t think there is a fabrication bay that has not been upgraded. BP Quad 204 allowed us to demonstrate that capability.”

Babcock won the contract to fabricate 73 structures for the Quad 204 redevelop- ment in December 2012. The total order is comprised of 73 structures, weighing 15-150-tonne each (or 2500-tonne in total), including 30 flowline termination assemblies (FTA), 14 controls distribution assemblies (CDA), seven riser end terminations (RET), ten umbilical end terminations (UET), three subsea isolation valves (SSIVs), and two dynamic umbilical termination assemblies (DUTA), with the remaining structures comprising various size and complexity manifolds, Goodfellow said. For BP, it was an opportunity. “What we saw initially was an opportunity for Babcock to create a site capable of large scale fabrication of subsea structures with an ability to perform system site integration testing in one location and the benefit of performing all this work undercover in a controlled environment,” Sandy Meldrum, BP Subsea Structures Project Manager, said. “Civil upgrades performed on the site has provided exactly the facilities that meet our needs for a large scale and complex project such as Quad 204. Having all the structures built at one site meant they didn’t need multiple teams going out to do integrity testing,” he added.

Two SSIVs in a fabrication bay. 

“The structures consist of equipment we have purchased from a lot of suppliers—Verderg, Aker Solutions, Bel Valves, HPF Energy Services, Oliver Valves, Cameron,” John Ibbotson, BP lead project engineer, System Integration Testing, said, all of which makes working closely crucial. A lot of free-issue kit was ordered, geared around trying to get ahead of the game, Meldrum adds.Fabrication started in May 2013, as decommissioning work on the old Schiehallion FPSO and some of its existing subsea structure was underway offshore. The nature of the order meant that, after the first five structures started fabrication, Babcock was able to review its fabrication process and initiate lean manufacturing processes, creating pro- duction lines, instead of each structure being built individually, Goodfellow said. “We modified some of the build strategy based on lessons learned, particularly where we had more than one build, resulting in an assembly line environment,” he said.

This year will see the 30 FTAs, SSIVs, UETs, and a number of manifolds delivered, with remainder, including some of the more complex modules, due to be delivered before 1Q 2015. Smaller structures will be transported by road to where they will be loaded out for installation. Larger structures will be loaded out onto vessels at Rosyth, in the Firth of Forth.

In May, factory acceptance testing and system integration testing was under way in one of the yard’s 27 covered work- shops, ready for load out. The first of the structures loaded out in the first week of May. They will be installed offshore West of Shetland, between July and September, as part of a two-year installation campaign, handled by Technip, culminating in hook-up and commissioning, with first production scheduled for the end of 2016, Meldrum said.

Further projects are already lining up. Work has already started on the Grant and Ellon development manifold and Babcock is bidding for more work with a number of North Sea players, as well as eyeing the potential for work destined for Norwegian waters.

Subsea structures are just the start, Goodfellow added.

“We are keen to look at some of the smaller topsides as well, to get us off the seabed.” Likewise, FPSOs could be brought in for topside conversion—a medium-long term focus for Babcock. In fact Babcock was involved in the marine side of the recent Haewene Brim project in Nigg, near Inverness.

The M71 manifold near completion. Photos from BP, Mathieu Buckley. 

“Babcock aspires to be a player involved in more detailed scope including engineering, design and procurement,” Goodfellow said. “We integrate very complex structures and have done so for many years.”

The Quad 204 is a major subsea redevelopment project, involving the redevelopment of the Schiehallion and Loyal fields, to the west of Shetland on the UK Continental Shelf.

The Schiehallion FPSO has been moored in 400m water depth, 281km (175mi) west of Shetland, producing oil from the Schiehallion and Loyal fields since 1998. The reservoir sits 2000m below the seabed, covering about 194sq km (75sq mi).

As a result of new exploration activity and technological developments, recoverable reserves are now known to be more than double the original estimates.

The original development had expanded to 51 wells in five subsea drill centers. The Quad 204 redevelopment is adding an additional 25 wells, replacing the existing FPSO with a newbuild on the same location, re-using existing subsea infrastructure where practicable, and replacing it where required and extend- ing it as required to support additional wells.