MELTON MOWBRAY, UK – Nine companies across Europe are working jointly to develop a buoyancy unit to aid oil and gas exploration in deeper waters.
According to one participant, the UK Materials Technology Institute (MATRI), the CeraSphere consortium, which has funding from the EU of $1.52 million, aims to create a perfectly spherical, low-cost, ceramic-coated macrosphere for integration into buoyancy units forultra-deepwater exploration. The resultant spheres would be designed and manufactured in more than one size for improved packing density, providing the higher compressive strength needed at greater water depths.
The CeraSphere solution would be an alternative to current buoyancy modules fordrilling risers used in exploration. Those risers are made using syntactic foams containing micro and macro-spheres. Despite having buoyancy advantages, MATRI says, manufacturing inconsistencies make them increasingly unreliable at greater depths. Failures can necessitate costly repairs and lead to environmental damage.
If the program succeeds, the team will address sphere contact issues within current syntactic foams that can contribute to failure from stress concentrations. They would look to coat the higher strength ceramic spheres with an elastomeric resin, reducing stress and thereby the risk of failure.
Other members of the consortium are:
- Moulded Foams
- De Cavis
- Almath Crucibles
- Trelleborg Offshore UK
- Eidgenoessische Materialpruefungs - Und Forschungsanstalt