South African engineers reel out competitive technology in global oil and gas services

As the continuing global offshore oil and gas exploration and production boom proves that the future of these scarce resources lies underwater, improvements in drilling technology are making the ocean depths more accessible. This highly competitive Oil & Gas services industry demands the ability to produce standard deck equipment quickly, cost-effectively and to the highest standards, to cope with the rigours of a harsh underwater environment.

Marine and Mineral Projects (MMP), a South African firm of hi-tech marine engineers, is at the forefront of the development of this deck (topside) technology and is making a name for itself in the international oil and gas services market, with its state of the art launch and recovery systems.

The firm recently secured a sought-after tender with Oil & Gas services contracting giant Subsea 7 to develop and manufacture a customised Steel Flying Lead (SFL) Reel Drive System and a Pennant Reel Drive System.

Rodney Norman, managing director of MMP says that their extensive knowledge of marine operating conditions and engineering gave them the edge, "We have a solid foundation, and proven capability, from years of experience, and we were able to not only identify opportunities to improve on existing technology but also to produce these reel drive systems very cost effectively and in a quick turn around time."

"MMP always seek ways to improve on standard equipment and in this light we included a Render Recover mode which is used in conjunction with an external tensioner. This mode keeps the product coming off the reel at a constant tension while the tensioner deploys the product."

"In recovery mode it maintains constant tension in the product through ‘controlled force' as the tensioner reels the product back onboard."

"During pay out operations, if the tension on the product is greater than the tension setting on the reel drive, the drive will render. During pay in operations, if the tension on the product is less than the tension setting, the reel drive will recover (pay in) to take up the slack and maintain a controlled tension in the product," explains Norman.

"Additionally the reel drive systems have a wireless remote control unit which allow the operator to stand anywhere without restrictions. The reel drives can adapt to accept the differing reel sizes manufactured whilst compensating for unbalanced loads resulting from the connection heads," says Norman.

Marine and Mineral Projects is a relative newcomer to the deep sea oil and gas industry but years of invaluable experience in the difficult offshore diamond mining environment, have provided unique skills and solutions that guarantee a job expertly done.

"A recent project we tackled was the development of an innovative Multi Reel Drive System for the Normand7, which allows the vessel to load up new reels in port in a matter of 24 hours as opposed to the currently accepted norm of three to four days. MMP also recently secured the contract to build a Dive Handling System for the Seven Atlantic, a new build Diver Support Vessel. Once again we examined the suitability of the traditional dive handling system and found ways to improve on it. This resulted in tighter integration into the vessel and reduction in operational complexity."

The company recently expanded its services to the European oil and gas industry opening their new office in Rotterdam.

"Jan Willem de Wit, who joined MMP officially from 1 May 2008 as Marketing and Sales Manager Europe and UK will be providing a resource based in Europe to better service our current and future clients. Jan Willem's appointment highlights the fact that SA skills and expertise are proven and sought after in world markets," says Norman.

"We would like to educate the international market about South Africa's outstanding capacity to offer world leading technology and innovative solutions to the oil and gas services market – Marine and Mineral Projects is competing successfully on a global scale and in many instances, leading the development of systems," concludes Norman.