HOUSTON – The 2014 Offshore Technology Conference has heard from Oceaneering about commercial use of NASA’s Neutral Buoyancy Lab (NBL) for testing and risk reduction in the upstream oil and gas industry.
Michael Bloomfield, vice president of Oceaneering Space Systems, used his experience as an NASA space shuttle pilot to draw parallels between testing done in preparation for work done at the NBL to prepare for construction of the International Space Station.
“Risk reduction though testing of ‘tightly coupled operations,’ where small events can cascade into big problems, is similar for deepwater operations as for space operations,” Bloomfield said. “Failure during testing can be a good thing if the cause can be recognized, handled, and retested to the point of validation.”
Some testing of offshore designs already has been done at the NBL. One example given by Bloomfield was an integrated systems test forThunder Horse. That testing ran 12 hr/day for three weeks. Another was a functional acceptance testing of wellhead cutting tools that resulted in the development of a procedure that could be done with a single ROV rather than using two ROVs, which was the initial expectation.