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Swagelok constructs South America-bound oil rigs

When Cianbro Corp. won a bid to complete construction of two oil rigs, it was challenged with installing a complex fluid handling system that comprised more than 10,000 individual components per vessel and met the requirements of a stringent third-party risk management organization.

As the second rig nears completion and sets its sights on the southwest Caribbean, Cianbro is crediting the more than 20,000 Swagelok components and fittings it needed to build the two 12,000-ton semisubmersible oil-drilling vessels in Portland, Maine, as having played a major role in the venture’s success.

Project Amethyst

Pride International awarded Pittsfield, Maine-based Cianbro, one of the largest civil and heavy industrial construction companies on the East Coast, a contract in early 2002 to complete construction of the two rigs after the original builder filed for bankruptcy. Believed to be the first oil rigs constructed in Maine, the partially outfitted vessels arrived in Casco Bay, Maine, in early 2002, after traveling, via barge and tow, from their original sites in Texas and Mississippi. Cianbro began working on the rigs in March 2002.


The semisubmersible drilling rigs - Pride Portland and Pride Rio de Janeiro - are 250 ft long, 180 ft wide, and approximately 324 ft tall, from the bottom of the pontoons to the tip of the derrick.
Click here to enlarge image

One rig, Pride Rio de Janiero, left Portland in early February, embarking on a 20-day trip to Curacao, one of three islands in the southwest Caribbean that comprise The Netherlands Antilles. The second rig, Pride Portland, is wrapping up construction and will leave Maine soon to join the Pride Rio de Janiero in the Caribbean.

Opportunity knocks

To assist with assembling the rigs’ complex fluid handling systems, Cianbro named Maine Valve & Fitting Co. as its top-tier fluid system component supplier on the project. An exclusive, independent distributor of Swagelok fluid system components, Maine V&F would help Cianbro by supplying product, managing inventory, and coordinating the installation of the components through on-site training of Cianbro’s fitters.

The sheer magnitude of the project - 10,000 fittings per rig - was challenging enough for any fluid-handling expert. But the system also had to meet the high standards of Lloyd’s Register Americas Inc., which is part of London-based International Lloyd’s Register Group. Lloyd’s is a certification agent that acts on behalf of governments and insurance companies, certifying products, processes, and systems using published criteria.

“When the rigs came through, everything that went out to bid had to meet Lloyd’s Register,” Ken Madore, Maine V&F sales and service representative, says. “That took a lot of manufacturers out of the picture, but not Swagelok.”

Cianbro also based its selection of Maine V&F on a recent work experience the construction company had with the exclusive Swagelok distributor.

“Cianbro was working on a project in northern Maine at a paper mill and was having trouble with deliveries and reject parts. Cianbro was just having a great deal of difficulty getting the product in on time,” Madore says. “That’s where we came in. Cianbro turned to us and we jumped through hoops to keep that project moving along.

Service

The personal attention and commitment to service Maine V&F showed Cianbro on the previous job continued on the Amethyst project.

Each ship’s system is comprised of more than 10,000 Swagelok fittings - in fractional and metric sizes up to 1 1/2 in. and in a variety of configurations - as well as lockable Swagelok ball valves, check valves, and tube supports. Because much of the fabrication occurred in confined areas, there were connections every 8-10 ft. Each rig had more than 46,000 linear ft of tubing.

In addition, the single largest task Cianbro fitters undertook involved the assembly of a complex remote-control system that manages all the ballast valves on board and required 8,000 mechanical connections per vessel.

“My job is to test and operate all equipment on board, including the Swagelok tubing and fittings on our remote-operated valves,” says Dave Christopher, commissioning manager for Cianbro on the Amethyst project. “There are 283 remote-operated valves on each rig that open and close your ballast valves. It is a very complicated system. It also controls the rig’s treatment systems so it requires good, dependable equipment.”

To assist with the proper installation of all fittings, Maine V&F helped establish a train-the-trainer program for Cianbro. Several Cianbro employees participated in this program, which allowed Cianbro trainers to provide on-site instruction to its fitters on how to use Swagelok tube benders, multi-head swaging units, and orbital welders.

Additionally, to help coordinate the installation of the more than 20,000 fluid system components, Madore established a consignment program and checked inventory twice a week. This program kept the project moving along and on schedule.

Flawless results

The training Maine V&F provided and the gaugeability of the Swagelok tube fitting were instrumental in getting the rigs ready for their work near South America, according to Cianbro. Wallace said, “When Lloyd’s Register came up for final approval - done. Not an issue. Not with one fitting. And we had more than 10,000 fittings on each rig.”

The performance of Swagelok’s components cannot be underscored.

“The offshore industry has very high standards and that is because of safety,” Cianbro’s Christopher says. “These rigs are going to be drilling in 3,000 ft of water, going down to drilling depths of 15,000-20,000 ft. Because you’re going to be all by yourself, your equipment has to be reliable and properly maintained.”

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