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BOP Monitoring Seeks To Reduce Downtime, Increase Insight

Photo courtesy of GE Oil and Gas.
The merging of monitoring technologies with easy-to-interpret interfaces for subsea blowout preventers (BOPs) offers drilling contractors a new tool to understand the condition of their system before it breaks down. For many offshore drilling contractors, BOP failures account for half of the total downtime on their rigs.

A growing trend of heavy industries in the 21st century has been to marry computers and software with large machines to track their performance, and all the hiccups along the way. Known as condition-based monitoring, the process is used to enhance the reliability and performance of railroads, wind turbines, nuclear reactors, and jet engines, but not subsea blowout preventers (BOPs). However, that is slowly starting to change.

All three major BOP makers, as well as some other companies, have introduced BOP monitoring systems that seek to provide new insight into how these massive subsea machines work—and perhaps more important, why they sometimes do not. By improving system reliability, the offshore drilling industry stands to recoup millions of dollars it writes down each year because of BOP downtime.

Today, offshore drillers have little knowledge about the fatigue life of the more than 100 hydroelectric valves and regulators inside a BOP. Makers of BOPs acknowledge that this uncertainty forces companies to replace as much as 25% of the BOP stack each time it undergoes scheduled maintenance to mitigate breakdowns. The practice of arbitrarily replacing parts is only a stopgap measure as drilling contractors report that 50% of downtime on their drilling rigs are caused by problems with BOPs. While they have their differences, the BOP monitoring systems available today seek to completely change this status quo. “The holy grail is to detect a failure early and focus your maintenance efforts on that part, and not just a random part,” said Clayton Simmons, product line manager of BOP monitoring systems at National Oilwell Varco (NOV).

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BOP Monitoring Seeks To Reduce Downtime, Increase Insight

Trent Jacobs, JPT Senior Technology Writer

01 July 2014

Volume: 66 | Issue: 7

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