Here we are again – for the first time!

Hello – I’m back – no, this is not an April Fool’s Day joke. I haven’t ever really been away, but when one’s former organ is now in someone else’s hand, it becomes a bit difficult to maintain the same profile.

A long-time reader of the missives from my previous existence told me last week that I should write a blog. I realised that it was a good idea – being restricted to the 140 characters in Twitter does put a serious limitation on how much you can say. And no one ever accused me of not having an opinion.

So it is time to spread my wings again. I’m not going to attempt to report on even a fraction of what is going on in the subsea world, but I intend to comment on key items of interest – important projects, new technology, business deals, energy policy and the general energy scene.

And let me hear from you – I don’t know everything, although some readers used to say that I knew everybody. Always like to hear first about deals, contracts and people movements. I can’t promise to use everything – this is a blog, not a newsletter.

So here we go….

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I was in Aberdeen last week to chair a one day seminar on flow assurance, which I organised on behalf of Subsea UK. The event was subtitled ‘what has the industry learned over the last 30 years?’

The general consensus was not much. The idea for the event came to me when I read a press release about the replacement of a section of the Lomond-Erskine pipeline in the UK sector as the result of a wax blockage. Hadn’t the same or similar thing happened 25 years ago at Staffa? It did and twice! The second blockage caused the field to be shut-in permanently and pretty much resulted in the demise of operator Lasmo.

Of course, flow assurance as a discipline did not even exist at the time of the Staffa event – it was simply an offshoot of processing. It was a few years later that Petrobras first used the term and Shell took it seriously when it had to find a solution for the produced water in the gas at Mensa in the Gulf of Mexico, the first long distance (~100km) deepwater (1,645m if I remember correctly) gas tieback. When the deepwater era officially took off with production start up at Girassol, no project could even be discussed for development without an initial flow assurance study to determine what the hydrate, wax, asphaltene, et al, issues might be.

So how could the events at Lomond-Erskine have occurred? Several speakers at the seminar, including Murray Anderson of Crondall Engineering. made mention of staff turnover and a dearth of folk with a bit of perspective, ie who have been around the block more than once. It is pretty hard to make reference to a previous event if you have never heard of it! So while it did finally become necessary for a few of the old-timers to finally get put out to pasture, losing all of that knowledge has become a serious issue.

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I know that this is just the first of my blogs – I hope to be putting something out at least twice a month before my brains begin dribbling out of my ears – but it would be really great if some of those companies who supported me in the past might find a way to support this blog as well. Hint, hint!

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