The moonpool is a congested area of the rig including heavy equipment and hazardous operations. As such, it is crucial to have optimal handling systems in order to ensure safe and efficient operations.
The oil and gas industry continues to evolve and expectations to efficiency, safety and environmental awareness continues to increase. On top of this, limits are being pushed as rigs are operating in harsher weather conditions. The time spent on drilling and delivering a well is challenged and expected to be reduced.
The challenge is to meet these growing demands and expectations, and at the same time reducing the risk to personnel, the environment and equipment
As such, it is a crucial factor to incorporate better systems that remove the need for manual work, move personnel out of harm’s way and ensure the safety of the crew and the environment, as well as the equipment.
Moonpool handling systems
The moonpool is known as a hazardous area. The equipment today is heavier, more complex and must be handled in harsh weather conditions. Also, what used to be considered acceptable, no longer is when it comes to environmental risk and personal safety.
Unwanted and serious incidents are very costly; it means downtime, investigations, bad reputation and potential injury to personnel and contract termination.
Typically, the drilling industry has well defined boundaries to operate within. Such boundaries are defined i.e. by weather and rig operating criteria, company- and authority safety regulations, crew competence, equipment capacities and rig functionality and more.
In order to control your risk level during operations you need a well-trained crew with high safety awareness, combined with robust and well-functioning equipment that your crews are trained to operate.
The above will always be the foundation for a well-functioning rig. However, building on this basis, incorporating better systems that remove the need for manual work, move personnel out of harm’s way and ensure the safety of the crew and the environment, should always be a target.
Optimizing your moonpool handling systems can enable your crew to maintain drilling activities and operate the equipment safely and efficiently, and at the same time increase the rig’s operational weather window keeping the client satisfied.
A typical example is when connecting Kill, Choke, Boost and Conduit hoses to the telescopic joint in moonpool on floating drilling rigs.
These hoses typically weigh 3 to 5 tonnes each and are 20 to 30 m long. In some cases 8 to 10 persons are involved in this operation with winches, cherry pickers, snatch blocks, etc in order to hoist each hose into position and connect it to the moving slipjoint over open sea.
The complete operation may take up to one shift (10 – 12 hours) to complete, or even more as the operation is weather dependent.
This is a very hazardous operation and involves significant risk.
Field proven equipment is available to mitigate the risk an at the same time improve rig efficiency. The operation above can be completed in 10 minutes, handsfree and with only one operator, see figures below.
Manual work over open sea: A lot of personnel involved 10– 12 hours with use of winches, cherry pickers, snatch blocks, wires in tension.
A very similar operation performed with one operator. Complete handsfree connection time in10 minutes.
Unfortunately, and in spite of considerable dialogue between drilling contractors and equipment providers regarding this particular operation over the last few years, far too few operators/rig owners have invested in this technology.
So why do not rig owners/operators/oil companies invest in such an obvious HSE (and efficiency) improving technology?
The reason of course is extremely tight budgets the last few years. Drilling contractors have been (and still are) experiencing a very challenging rig market with very low day rates.
However, it is frustrating to see that oil companies with record high cash flows and EBITDA margins, seem to be reluctant to contribute with funding/rig rate mechanisms, thereby allowing such hazardous operations to continue.
The quality of the moonpool handling systems is vital in order to ensure safety.
Various equipment and solutions can be tailored to each rig’s individual needs to improve safety and efficiency.
Record high oil prices and stellar cash flows enables oil companies to support initiatives and help drilling contractors to implement such solutions.
This is an opportunity the oil companies should take advantage of.