June 27, 2017

All all-Italian team is hoping to offer the offshore industry smarter and more efficient solutions, by bringing their heads together. Elaine Maslin reports.

Fincantieri's Overdrill. Photo from Fincantieri. Click to view larger.

Led by Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri, Polo Offshore has 11 member companies, each bringing their ideas to create integrated solutions – or as Fincantieri sees it, building a ship around equipment, instead of the other way around. Giuseppi Coronella, executive vice president for Fincantieri’s offshore business, says this approach doesn’t pave the way for proper integration of systems. “Six years ago, when we decided to start developing the [Proxima and Overdrill] drillship(s), most of the solutions we were providing were motivated by small oil tanker vessels, ballast systems, physical integration that was not that advanced, so the center of gravity was high. To support that load at a high level you needed a huge hull. This led us to develop a vessel around the system.

“We needed competence and to think differently from standard conservative thinking in oil and gas,” Coronella says. “Very often, the excellence of companies is around single people who create an environment. They create capability for thinking ahead. But maybe don’t have the power or tools. We have an approach of a system integrator using specialist companies with special capabilities, creating the environment to develop new solutions. We have gone through several projects, Overdrill, Proxima and other projects in midstream, also a CNG (compressed natural gas) carrier, what we lacked was a way to cooperate.”

With Polo Offshore, a way to work together as an integrated service was created. Members include drilling equipment firm Drillmec, fabricator Rosetti Marino, cable firm Prymsian, and pipework, electrical, engineering, process and naval architecture firms.

“Our members cover the entire world, which gives us a capability to be close by the major fields and activities,” Coronella says. “This means we can act quickly. It’s not just matter of making integrated equipment, making it connect to the system, connected to other systems inside the vessel.”

Some of this ethos has already been put to work in a project for Petrobel, which has involved creating a condition based maintenance program for a navy. The system has been installed and tested and will help improve reliability and enable future predictive maintenance, Coronella says. “This also allows us to be closer to the client, to help understand their needs propose improved tools for future efficiencies.”

As well as bringing varied expertise to bear on drillship designs, the firm is also proposing to market floating production vessel concepts, initially starting with the building of process modules and or installing pressure vessel. “This requires process design competence, it’s a matter of integrating with other companies,” Coronella says, who adds that he has already spoken with some of the floating production vessel leaders. “The difference in the past was that companies were involved, but off the process line. This behavior [i.e. Polo Offshore] is a more democratic way to work. It’s more profitable in terms of ideas and efficiency of solutions.”

Fincantieri is working in Brazil, with Petrobras, and has shipyards there, i.e. Promar, which is now producing its first vessels, specifically, LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) carriers for Transpetro, plus and offshore support vessel. Fincantieri also owns Vard in Norway.