Bentec drawing on Deutag connections for Norwegian drilling modules

Bentec is a relative newcomer in Norway, but with activity in the offshore sector riding high, it has quickly made its mark as a supplier of drilling packages and systems. The company set itself up in Oslo in late 1996 as Bentec Norge AS, and landed its first two contracts during the first quarter of 1997. The first, an EPC contract worth some NKr 300 million, is for Norsk Hydro's Oseberg South platform, to which it will supply a drilling equipment set installed in a skiddable drilling

Nick Terdre
Contributing Editor
Bentec is a relative newcomer in Norway, but with activity in the offshore sector riding high, it has quickly made its mark as a supplier of drilling packages and systems.

The company set itself up in Oslo in late 1996 as Bentec Norge AS, and landed its first two contracts during the first quarter of 1997. The first, an EPC contract worth some NKr 300 million, is for Norsk Hydro's Oseberg South platform, to which it will supply a drilling equipment set installed in a skiddable drilling module weighing a total of some 1,500 tons.

Construction is underway at the Nymo yard in south Norway, with which Bentec has signed an alliance agreement, with delivery scheduled for August 1999. A short time later Esso placed a NKr 500 million order, again on an EPC basis, for a drilling equipment set and drilling support module weighing a total of 3,000 tons for its Jotun wellhead platform. Although awarded directly to Bentec, the contract was subsequently brought under the umbrella of Heerema's main EPIC contract for the development. Due to capacity shortages in Norway, fabrication was let to Kv?rner's Teesside yard in the UK, from which it is due to be delivered this August.

The period of only 16 months from the start of conceptual engineering to delivery of the complete module must be a world record for the supply of such complex modules, managing director Paal Norheim believes.

Thus, in the space of a few months, the company found itself employing some 140 staff, including both permanent employees and contract personnel, which was about the level it was aiming for in the early stages, Norheim says.

As in so many other parts of the Norwegian offshore industry at present, Bentec has found difficulty in recruiting skilled staff due to the high level of demand. However, as a subsidiary of the German drilling contractor Deutag, it can call on its company connections. "Our strength these days is that we have the ability to take experienced people from the Bentec head office in Germany and the branch office in the UK," says Norheim.

The company connections work to advantage in several other ways. From Deutag Bentec is able to get feedback from drilling operations, an important link for a supplier with no direct involvement in operations.

And although the company itself is relatively small, it can draw on the financial muscle of the mighty Preussag group, the owner of Deutag, when it comes to providing financial guarantees for large contracts.

Bentec's core skill lies in providing drilling packages carefully adjusted to what the customer needs, Norheim says. It does not manufacture its own equipment, but buys in and assembles the different parts and systems. Hence it has an independence which can be lacking in the drilling equipment manufacturers and systems suppliers which belong to large, integrated contracting groups.

"We buy from all suppliers and put the various parts together in an optimal way, providing a product which is tailor-made to the customer's requirements," says Norheim. Bentec's flexibility extends to supplying a rig to the desired footprint, which is not always the case with standard equipment from a manufacturer.

The company can also supply a small product range from its headquarters at Bad Bentheim in Germany, including drillers' cabins and BOP handling systems. It has also developed its own drilling control and optimization system, known as Soft Torque, and the Soft Pump pumping system.

Where circumstances are appropriate, however, the company will join forces with other suppliers to bid for selected jobs.

In addition to supplying new packages, Bentec is also active in the refurbishment of old equipment. It is currently refurbishing Rig 50, a heavy workover rig previously installed on Phillips' Ekofisk Field but which Bentec is now marketing on behalf of the operator. "There's a big market, especially in the UK but also in Norway, for workover rigs," Norheim says.

Here again the company can call on the refurbishment expertise which resides in its own head office in Germany, which provides refurbishment services for Deutag's worldwide operations.

In Norway too Bentec has a mutually beneficial relationship with Deutag. It shares its project office at Skoeyen outside central Oslo with Deutag Offshore Norge, to which Bentec provides drilling engineering support.

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