When hurricanes moved across the Gulf of Mexico offshore oil production facilities as hurricanes Ivan, Rita and Katrina did, taking down 30 plus platforms involving over 534 active wells. The personnel that are the foundation of the Bayside Team were the original architects on how to safely access, re-head, kill and then plug and abandon the wells in a safe and secure manor. To do this many new techniques and tools had to be created to deal with well conductors in an unknown condition of integrity, lying in twisted bundles in various orientations other than the original vertical position, on or below mud line and quite often under tons of platform steel debris. Out team already had years of salvage and well control expertise and with the passing of these hurricanes , our team members would unify to tackle the largest Offshore and Subsea Well Control and P&A project in history to date, and complete it successfully and safely without fanfare or publicity (“just getting the job done”).
Hurricane Ivan – Although small platform structures had been lost before in shallower water, hurricane Ivan presented new obstacles to overcome such as greater water depth and more complicated structures. The Bayside Team members gained extensive experience in water depths of 150 feet to 500 feet. New procedures, tooling and excavation techniques were required to essentially remove debris and material to gain access to the wells and complete a full plug and abandonment of all wells under approval by federal authorities and the responsible parties.
Hurricane Katrina and Rita – While working on the downed Hurricane Ivan platforms, the personnel from the Bayside team were called upon to deal with the major devastation in the Gulf of Mexico Oil Fields after hurricanes Katrina and then Rita passed thru. All totaled the members participated in the cleanup of more than 534 wells on over 30 platforms over a number of years.
Development of “Novel Concepts and Tooling” lead by the members of the Bayside team members:
- 3D modeling of the platforms showing the pre and post hurricane condition of the platforms allowed the Models to be continuously used throughout the projects as an Engineering Tool, and major Safety Tool, to define work to be done, weight and centers analysis for lifting, pre-work visualization tools to prepare divers and ROV personnel on details of required steps of procedures, post work visualization tool for reporting and other services as well.
- Use of 3D models in a real time 3D scene to provide a safer operation to divers and ROVs operating in close proximity in the debris and excavation fields of the downed platform and increase diver efficiency of navigating around the site.
- Subsea Tooling Development
- ROV “Super Saw” – Heavy duty hydraulically operated saw to cut through steel structural members.
- Diver operated linear pipe cutter/slitter (to make longitudinal cuts along pipe after radial cuts to split apart casings.
- “Sea Sun” system to provide near daylight working conditions at depth to further increase diver safety and more efficient work conditions throughout the projects.
- Subsea scissor style shears to provide a safe way to efficiently cut away structure and other debris including large diameter pipe and jacket structure without the endangerment of stored energy.
- Improved application of Diamond Wire Cutting operations.
- Procedures and operational relationships to enable close working coordination between divers and ROVs to work together versus previous apprehensions and fears on both sides.
The Arctic Challenger project started when a client told a couple of our team members that their bosses had stated to some higher officials, that they had the ability to stop oil pollution from a well control situation before the oil reached the surface and wanted to see if we could fulfill their declaration since they had nothing in reality. As our team members had extensive Pollution Abatement experience and unique Source Control expertise, although no direct experience in their specific problem (no one else did either) our team combined our total knowledge that was gained in ship salvage operations and the hurricane downed platform projects combined with response equipment developed for the Caspian Sea Field development to finally become the Arctic Challenger project. Basically the design of a system that included collection, processing and disposal of escaped well fluids in a single package including all support equipment and Arctic living accommodations to go into the arctic and deploy a subsea collection dome for collecting the hydrocarbons at the site of an uncontrolled subsea well from becoming a major pollution incident in the Arctic.
Novel Concepts and Tooling:
- Novel Concept of a “smart” dome capable of collection 35,000bbls a day of fluids in an uncontrolled well event in the Arctic. This dome was equipped with sensors and capabilities that allowed it to be monitored and controlled and maneuvered through a control umbilical to a process control room via an active mooring system capable of moving the dome in an X, Y and Z axis and control the “in dome” first cut separation process system above the uncontrolled well for best efficiency.
- A Second separation is accomplished by a vessel mounted processing system to separate oil, water and gas to return all water in a clean and acceptable condition to the ocean while flaring all the oil and gas in a clean burn flare type system.
Arctic Project Simulation and Response Center
On the Arctic Challenger Project, it became clear that the stand-by crews of a response vessel not regularly exercised presented a challenging training potential in that they needed a way to stay trained on a one of a kind specialty system and be response ready throughout the year. The answer was a state of the art system of multiple, specially designed, highly realistic, physics based multi-simulators system all interlinked and working together on a common scenario in a physical and virtual world. Couple with this was a staff experienced and capable and tasked with keeping the response crews unique skill set viable for emergency response as required and when required.
Novel Concepts and Tooling:
- Response and training center built with the following capabilities:
- 9 integrated simulators that physically mimicked the real equipment and vessel situations as much as possible that could create a realistic environment to train personnel without putting the personnel in danger while not having real world capability to train on the realistic equipment and issues encountered offshore.
- All simulators were designed and constructed to the most realistic physical condition possible (each simulator environment physically confined the trainees in their respective simulator to interact with each other simulator realistically).
- All simulators were physics based to work in individual simulations or combined in any multi simulator scenario.
Temsah Northwest No. 4
In 2004, off of Port Said, Egypt, experts were working to correct a well issue on the Temsah Northwest 4 platform which produced roughly 60+% of the natural gas for Egypt when the well suffered a down-hole failure and blew out. Fortunately no personnel were hurt but the platform itself was almost totally destroyed and the jack up rig that was jacked up at the platform was burned and toppled over in place. Bayside team members were part of the well control solution which involved 3 simultaneous relief wells and 5 wells capped under-fire while working on very tender jacket structure that required full time platform movement and stress loading monitoring. Critical issues dealt with during this project were platform and wells access, firefighting and fire protection, platform stability and safe access and well control.
Novel Concepts and Tooling:
- Quick turn-a-round design and development of a compact, portable electronic remote monitoring system for structural monitoring of stability and movement of the damaged platform to enhance safety of personnel while working on the platform.
- Computer generated and field installed patch elements for temporary leg repair on completely separated platform legs.
- Installation of a small knuckle boom crane on the structure to assist with well re-heading operations.
Eugene Island 322
Eugene 322 was originally a double platform setup where one platform contained the wells and the other platform the process equipment with the only connection between the two was the personnel bridge and process lines. It is suspected a convergence of waves creating a much higher wave peak height impacted the platforms leaving the production platform intact but the wells platform bent to an angle with only 2 of the original 4 legs supporting the platform and the 18 wells (many still active). Personnel currently with Bayside were the first to evaluate the platform and the wells first hand and were then instrumentally worked to create a safe working area on the platform as well as monitoring the platform structurally during the safe and efficient plugging and abandonment of all wells.
Novel Concepts and Tooling:
- Unique hybrid structural monitoring system using laser sighting systems and other manual systems.
- Onsite development of motion detection and prediction for damaged platform movement from the environment with short term predictive capability.
NMS 1477 Acid Barge Incident (Texas City, Texas)
In 2003, members of the Bayside Team were called in by USCG to assist in the emergency response of the NMS 1477 barge loaded with sulfuric acid, docked at a pier right across from the pier where the infamous SS Grandcamp blew up in 1947 devastating Texas City. The cargo had become contaminated with seawater and the resulting reaction was creating hydrogen gas which had quickly created a pressurized container out of the barge hull itself. Members of the Bayside team used their knowledge of naval architecture and a specialty drilling tool (modified in the field) to safely drill the barge hull in each compartment to safely vent the hydrogen gas to defuse the potential hydrogen blast zone that NOAA calculated at a 3 mile impact radius. Once the barge was depressurized the barge was handed over for continued salvage operations and dealing with the acid by the local salvor via more conventional means.
Design of the First Ever Ice Classed Liftboat (for High Temp, High Pressure & H2S Well Service)
In 2008, during the startup of the offshore exploration off the coast of Kazakhstan in the Caspian Sea, members of the Bayside team took on a project to define and design a vessel that could be used as a wells service vessel. These were high temperature, high pressure fields with H2S gas potential and arctic ice conditions. The determination was a Liftboat had the most potential but would need to be designed to meet the requirements and standards of that specific operating environment and provide the safest possible work conditions and still get the job done.