When completed, Shell’s Appomattox project, located about 80 miles from Louisiana in 7,200 feet of water will be the largest and deepest platform in the Gulf of Mexico. The project’s peak production rate is projected to be 175,000 barrels/day, and 650 million barrels/day when combined with adjacent deposits.
Drilling and transporting oil from significantly deeper depths requires much higher volumes of pipe with heavier wall thickness to withstand the forces of the deeper water. Cutting-edge fabrication expertise would be essential to ensure that each pipe weld provide the highest possible integrity. Each and every contractor needed to perform with total coordination.
For the Appomattox project, Shell needed a prime contractor and sub-contractors with a proven track record of success with onshore pipeline fabrication. Pipeline Technique LLC (PTL) was placed in charge of all onshore pipe fabrication.
With the increased forces deep-water pipelines are subjected to, optimal weld results are mandatory. To achieve this in a rapid, repeatable way, laser accurate pipe end counterboring and dimensioning was required to guarantee that the seemingly countless pipe sections stacked on-site were all made ready for the subsequent high-volume weld beveling, welding and pipe (anti
corrosion) coating operations to follow.
Tri Tool has had a long, successful relationship with PTL and their parent company Heerema Marine Contractors (HMC) as an OEM supplier of both standard and custom built specialized pipeline equipment and portable machine tools.
Tri Tool’s new counterbore system had just completed performance trials and final computer software development so it was an excellent opportunity to demonstrate the new system to PTL project supervisors. As a result of successful preliminary testing, the Deep Counterbore System was selected for the project’s onshore counterboring stage of fabrication.
The innovative system places the pipe end in a fixed position relative to the 7-Axis cutting head. A laser alignment system and computer console controls the entire operation. The computer then calculates the optimal cutting parameters and the cutting head can be positioned in 7 distinct axes, resulting in an incredibly precise and rapid machining operation, one of the keys to the short cycle time.
The system features the first fully mechanized rack system with “Hands Free” operation, the safest and fastest in the industry.
Sometimes it takes a world-class challenge to establish the true dependability and efficiency of world-class equipment solutions.
To summarize the performance of Tri Tool’s 7-Axis Deep Counterbore System on this phase of the Appomattox project, after approximately 20,000 pipe ends were successfully completed, the resulting production rates were up to 60% over competing systems and the work was completed 2 months ahead of schedule.
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