Explosion Proof Connectors Connectors for Offshore: Why Modular + Mobile + Flexible =Economic

Author / Editor: Steffen Hammon* / Anke Geipel-Kern

Explosion-proof electrical connectors are key to the operation of a unique modular drilling rig—The advantage of modular construction is that the entire rig can be assembled and disassembled quickly and cost-effectively under offshore conditions, using only the cranes available on the platform to which it is attached.

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Installation work on the VDD 400.2 offshore deep drilling rig.
Installation work on the VDD 400.2 offshore deep drilling rig.
(Picture: Jacob)

The VDD 400.2 offshore deep drilling rig from Max Streicher is rather special: it is made up of individual modules, none of which weighs more than 12 tonnes. The advantage of this modular construction is that the entire rig can be assembled and disassembled quickly and cost-effectively under offshore conditions, using only the cranes available on the platform to which it is attached. Floating cranes, which are standard in the offshore industry, are not required, and any module in need of repair can be quickly replaced.

Among the many individual pieces of technology Max Streicher needed to make the modular rig possible, electrical connectors from British company Hawke International have played a key role. Hawke is an industry leader in explosion-proof (Ex) connectors, and products from its Instrum Ex and Control Ex series feature on the cables linking the constituent modules of the VDD 400.2 deep drilling rig.

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North Sea Oil Exhausted, Platforms Aging

Based in Deggendorf in Lower Bavaria, Germany, Max Streicher employs around 3,000 people. The company decided to develop the new rig because many North Sea resources are approaching the end of their lives, says Tobias Löprich, who is responsible for technical documentation and risk assessment.

“The North Sea oil and gas industry is increasingly confronted with aging platforms and exhausted reservoirs,” Löprich says. “A relatively large number of platforms and drilling locations will soon reach the end of their service lives or are already at this stage.” Many drill holes that are no longer economic need to be decommissioned and sealed, a policy referred to as “plug and abandon”.

Modular Rigs: The Future of Offshore Production?

Plugging requires the holes to be re-worked, but the jack-up rigs used in the North Sea rarely feature the equipment that would enable this to be done in an economic or technically correct manner. “This may be down to installations being positioned incorrectly on the sea bed, meaning that it is impossible to make any progress using the standard jack-up platforms,” Löprich explains. There are two potential solutions.

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