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GE Oil & Gas Expands Offshore Drilling Blowout Preventer and Remote Monitoring and Diagnostics Capabilities

02 May 2011

GE Oil & Gas has expanded its suite of blowout preventer (BOP) and remote monitoring and diagnostic (RM&D) technologies for the offshore drilling industry. The newly launched, technology-intensive products will help offshore drillers increase equipment performance, safety and reliability and optimize operational efficiency by improving life-cycle maintenance and reducing downtime. The products are the result of renewed research and development focus and acceleration of projects to improve shearing capacity, monitoring of BOPs and gas handling capability.

Claudi Santiago, president and CEO, GE Oil & Gas said: "GE's new offshore products are underpinned by reliable technologies designed to increase drilling rig safety and increase process visibility in challenging operating conditions. Exploiting advanced monitoring technologies from other GE businesses, including GE Healthcare, GE Aviation and GE Intelligent Platforms, we are able to capture and utilize data to implement predictive solutions and help operators avoid non-productive time on oil rigs. These important technology developments will help GE to deliver enhanced performance, safety and reliability benefits for customers across the global oil and gas industry.”

The latest additions to GE Oil & Gas' suite of advanced BOP and RM&D technologies being launched at OTC 2011 in Houston:

•Hydril Pressure Control Hydrostatic Pressure Assisted Shearing System (HPAS)—A key function of blowout preventers is to shear tubulars and seal the wellbore in the event of an unplanned influx (a "kick”) of fluids from the well. By harnessing hydrostatic pressure from the surrounding seawater, GE's innovative BOP ram shearing solution enables operators to significantly increase the force available for the shearing operation without requiring additional accumulator bottles, which are used to supply hydraulic pressure needed for shearing, on the stack. GE's new HPAS system can reduce the accumulator bottle count by up to 90 percent and also can be reset for repeated use without requiring intervention.

•GE Oil & Gas Drilling iBox™ System**—The Drilling iBox™ System is a hardware/software solution that allows operators to turn existing data into useful information, such as reports and status updates for event sequence, cycle counts and both condition-based and predictive maintenance. The Drilling iBox™ System connects to the existing datalogger and provides diagnostic and prognostic condition monitoring reports using GE Intelligent Platform's proven Proficy software suite. The technology can be retrofitted to all GE BOP Multiplex (MUX) control systems.

•Hydril Pressure Control RamTel™ Plus System—When closing in a well using a blowout preventer, knowing exactly where the sealing elements, or ram blocks, are positioned is critically important. Using hardware installed on the BOPs and Hydril Pressure Control software, the ram block's exact location inside the bore of the BOP and the pressure to close and/or shear can be displayed on GE deepwater drilling control systems while the stack is submerged at depths of up to 12,500 ft. The RamTel™ Plus System provides operators with a direct method of determining ram position in addition to the standard method of using indirect flow meter calculations. The system also will display when the ram has contacted the pipe, when it has sheared the pipe, and it will report the corresponding pressures. Installation is easy and simply requires replacement of the existing cylinder head with one that incorporates a sensor on the tail rod in most cases. The patented RamTel™ Plus System also is a valuable aid in troubleshooting sealing and/or closing issues during testing and operations.

•Hydril Pressure Control ROV Subsea Display Panel—Remote Operated Vehicles (ROVs) can now access critical information when the main BOP control system communication path is disrupted. Where communication is lost with the MUX control system, GE's display panel, which can be retrofitted on all GE subsea BOP systems, allows an ROV to directly read stack sensor data, such as wellbore temperature, wellbore and accumulator pressure, as well as ram position subsea indicators. The panel is battery powered—it is trickle charged from the MUX pod during normal operation or via ROV during emergencies. The ROV light activates the panel gauges and provides digital readout.

•GE Oil & Gas Black Box DDRTM System—Similar to the black box recorder system deployed on aircraft, this GE subsea drilling data recorder captures all of the information generated when operating the BOP control system. The Black Box DDRTM system duplicates the data written to the standard datalogger, but in a hardened system that can survive in ultra deepwater depths and pressures in the event of an emergency, allowing vital information to be recovered for analysis.

•Hydril Pressure Control Gas Handler™ System—During offshore drilling operations, if gas from the well gets into the riser before the BOP system can be closed, the gas must be diverted before it reaches the drill floor of the rig. GE's field-proven product increases the margin of safety for deepwater drilling rigs by diverting gas "kicks” from the riser into the choke line before they reach the drill floor. Located below the telescopic joint, the Gas Handler™ System is an integral part of the riser string. The specialized annular closing device has a 21" bore for easy passage of casing and wellbore tools. The system supplements the traditional diverter system and can be run through the rotary table and the diverter housing. Designed for easy maintenance, the system safely routes entrapped gas from the riser to the choke and kill manifold, where it can be handled as if it were a "kick” being circulated normally from below a closed BOP.

Santiago added: "Through rigorous design engineering, product testing and field-service processes across all our product lines, our constant goal at GE Oil & Gas is to deliver reliable, high-performance technology solutions that help our customers improve efficiency and optimize operations.”