LUX Assure recently worked with a large operator in the North Sea who wanted to re-start one of their assets following some time shut in with a large methanol slug sitting in the export line for hydrate prevention. The amount of methanol to be produced at start up, would incur significant penalties and would be difficult to manage during the waiver approval process.
It was therefore decided to produce the methanol slug via the test separator, allowing for separation of the water phase and when the condensate from startup arrived, the system would be switched back to direct export. The quantity of methanol produced through the test separator was determined using OMMICA™, to allow on-site testing of the water slug as it was produced, and so informed the quantity of methanol expected. Samples were taken at regular intervals and the quantity of methanol produced calculated from the values obtained.
Results from the OMMICA™ testing was correlated with onshore GC testing, conducted a week later, and the operator has avoided paying penalties as the level of methanol in the crude oil was deemed minimal. The operator has also gained sufficient confidence to rely on OMMICA™ on-site testing as the method of reporting in future.
For this job LUX Assure sent its most recently recruited Scientist, Harry Grover, who has been with the company for two years. Harry has done testing onshore many times across the globe but this was his first time offshore. He speaks below about his experiences during his time away in the North Sea.
“Two weeks on a North Sea platform seemed like it would be a long time to spend away from land but it was amazing how quickly it goes by when you’re being kept busy, towards the end it felt like no time at all. What I found most strange about it was the sheer remoteness, particularly at night – looking off the side of the platform, you can see three or four other installations in the distance, and apart from that, nothing at all. I’ve recently been to onshore pipelines in the US which I considered far away from civilisation, but this really brought new meaning to the phrase ‘middle of nowhere’.
A lot of the time you don’t actually notice you’re offshore. When I imagined what life on a rig would be like, I had an image of myself huddled in a steel box in the middle of a rainstorm, but the inside is actually quite pleasant. My highlight would definitely have to be the panoramic sea views from the helideck or perhaps watching a seal catching a fish, and having to fight off a hungry seagull in order to keep it. Having all you can eat food four times a day was also great!
It had been quite a while since I did my offshore training, so I wish I’d had a bit of a practice getting my survival suit on and off before doing it at the heliport! There’s also a lot that you miss when away from land – friends, your own space, and having a pint after work – though it does make you appreciate everything all the more when you get home!
I remember when I was at school, our chemistry lab had a series of posters displayed titled ‘not all chemists wear white coats’, showing some dressed in business suits, diving in oceans and trekking to the north pole, highlighting the range of options available to chemistry graduates. When I decided to study chemistry at university, I never thought I would end up in coveralls and a hard hat, halfway between Scotland and Norway! It was a really exciting experience and I’m looking forward to going offshore again.”