Single Point Moorings in the Use of Crude Oil Transport

[Posted on November 17, 2015 by Bill Stewart]

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A single point mooring (SPM) is a buoy or floating platform that resides offshore for the purpose of keeping tankers and other large vessels on station at all depths, for the offloading and handling of petroleum products when a storage facility is not available. An SPM serves as a link between onshore storage facilities and the tanker. The SPM is permanently attached to the sea bottom in such a way that it can move freely within certain parameters. They are designed with wind, rough seas, deep water, currents, and weather conditions in mind. Consulting firms such as Stewart Technology Associates provide mooring analysis services for the design of powerful moorings.

Advances in mooring technology and analysis have led to the unprecedented development of materials, designs, and construction that is used in the manufacture and implementation of mid-ocean floating platform stations for connecting oil tankers to pipelines. The environment is taken into account during design and analysis so that the materials themselves will pose no threat to marine life and so that failure, if it occurs in any part of the structure, will be contained. This includes anchor, mooring line, and connector materials and construction. The material used depends on the type of mooring and may be wire, chain, or fabricated fiber rope.

An SPM works in such a way as to facilitate the on-loading or off-loading of oil products via seafaring ships. They are primarily large buoys with decks where a ship can moor. Anchored to the floor of the ocean and attached to a pipeline and manifold at the center of the float, they are designed to be used in all weather conditions.

There are hundreds of SPMs operating across the globe. There are numerous benefits of using SPMs to safely and economically convey petroleum products to tankers in mid-ocean.

Negates the Need for A Ship to Make Port

There are oil discoveries in remote locations where pipelines are not financially or technologically practical. Ocean depth or the distance to the nearest onshore facility often requires alternative ways to deliver crude oil. Since a tanker can offload or take on cargo mid-ocean using an SPM, there is no need for the vessel to sail to a port. This is a tremendous savings in time and fuel costs.

Large Amounts of Cargo Can Be Handled

By nature of the SPM design, the buoy can be approached by a vessel and docked and connected in calm seas or even severe weather. It has fenders to protect its structural integrity from the movement of the ship. Connections are made via floating hoses from the submerged pipeline to the tanker, and a series of valves are controlled by an electrical substation. A swivel in the buoy enables the transfer of fluid between the geostatic section and rotating part of the float in most types of climate conditions. The amount of crude oil that is transferred depends on the size of the vessel. Since even a massive tanker is able to dock to the buoy, vast quantities of crude can be on-loaded for transport.

Extra Large Vessels

An SPM can accommodate huge ships. The design allows ships to “weathervane” around the single mooring point. If the sea is large, or there is wind, the SPM can absorb energy through stretchable ropes and anchor chains.

Very large carriers require a high draft to maneuver, which makes it difficult for them to navigate close to shore. SPMs can be constructed and set up in deep water, thereby eliminating the need for jetty construction and storage facilities. This allows deep water vessels to approach, take on cargo, and sail away much faster than having to navigate a deep-water port.

All-Weather Transfers

Due to the nature of the design, an SPM allows fluid transfer in most weather and sea conditions that are not considered severe or gale force. However, in adverse climatic conditions, a vessel can make its approach, connect to the buoy and initiate the fluid transfer. This allows tremendous flexibility in scheduling the transport.

Cost Savings

An SPM is considered an instant port and can be installed in deep water. This presents tremendous cost savings, since there is no need for jetty construction or port dredging to accommodate deep water vessels. This also offers a faster turnaround for tankers to approach, moor and take on crude. They can arrive, load or unload relatively quickly, and move on. Even in high winds and big seas, an SPM can accommodate a large number of ships in this fashion. All of these factors combine to create an economical and safe way to transport crude oil.

Environmental Impact

A single point mooring system design must be compliant with and adhere to certain standards and requirements within the offshore industry and the American Bureau of Shipping. The buoys and hoses and accompanying materials have to be durable enough to withstand combined wave, current, and wind forces generated by the severest of storms. This is essential for the protection of the environment. The tanker connects to the buoy via floating hoses. These hoses are fitted with breakaway couplings that have a predetermined break load. Should they break for any reason, an internal valve is activated to close automatically and prevent an oil spill.

Hydrodynamic analysis and dealing with the motion of fluids has evolved from using scale models in water tanks to advanced computer modeling. SPM technology and the progress that has been made in this area has made the disbursement of crude oil around the world safer, cleaner, environmentally sound, and much more economical.

As long as crude oil is the primary source of fuel and energy, we will need to make sure it gets from point A to point B as quickly and as safely as possible. Research, analysis, and planning are ongoing, with great strides being made in safety and efficiency. SPM stations are a vital part of that strategy and have changed the face of crude oil delivery.


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Things to Look for When Hiring Engineer Consultants

[Posted on November 2, 2015 by Bil Stewart]

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Things to Look for When Hiring Engineer Consultants

There may come a time when your firm needs outside help from a consultant. More than likely this is good news in that you have landed an account or a project that is sizable in scope and is more than your team can handle efficiently. When that day comes, you need to be aware of what to look for in a consultant or an engineering consulting firm. At STA, we want to help you in your search, so we have put together some tips and advice to help you make an informed selection. Here are our thoughts on the matter:

It Starts With Research

There are many ways to find a suitable consultant. Usually, it is a combination of a few things. You can speak to your colleagues in the industry, you can search the internet, and you can advertise in the online trades and journals. Once you settle on some names, there are some things that you should find out that should facilitate a choice:

• How long have they been in business?

• What services do they offer?

• What are their credentials?

• Are they licensed?

• How large is their firm?

• Review client testimonials.

• Check their references.

• See where they stand with the Better Business Bureau.

These are by no means the only questions to ask or items to look for on their resume, but they provide an excellent starting point.

Unusual versatility – Example of seismic analysis of a mat-supported jack-up in the time domain using ABAQUS.  This work was performed by Sage USA for Stewart Technology Associates.

Partial Resume for Bil Stewart:

PROFESSIONAL QUALIFICATIONS AND AFFILIATIONS:
Professional Engineer, Registered in State of Texas, 1983, retired 2006.
Chartered Engineer, Registered in the UK and Europe, 1977.
Member of Royal Institution of Naval Architects.
Member of Society for Underwater Technology.
Member of Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers (SNAME).
Member of IMarEST, Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology.
Member of American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME).
Member of American Society of Civil Engineers, D. OE (Diplomate of Ocean Engineering, ASCE) 2013.
Member of Society of Petroleum Engineers.
Past Member of Marine Technology Society.
Associate Member of the United States Naval Institute.
Technical Editor for Society of Petroleum Engineers (1982-1987).
Secretary & Past Chairman, Houston Chapter, Offshore Mechanics & Arctic Engineering (ASME).
Member, SNAME Offshore Committee, Chairman 1993.
Member, SNAME Technical and Research Committee, 1993.
Member, SNAME Panel OC-1, Stability and Motions, Chairman, Liftboat Task Group, 1991.
Member, 1990 to 1993 OTC Program Committees.
Member, 2002 to date NOSAC (USCG National Safety Advisory Committee).
Member, 2007 to date API RP 2RD Geotechnical Sub-Committee.
Chairman, 2009 to date, ASCE COPRI Marine Renewable Energy Committee.
Board Member ASCE COPRI 2014.
Vice President COPRI Board, 2016, President-elect for 2017
Member IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission) US TC 114, 2012.

The Fee Should Not Be the Main Issue

You want to hire the best engineer that you can find. Trying to shop for the least expensive may be asking for trouble in the long run. Whatever you save initially, could end up costing more in time and effort. You are in the market for a professional engineer to assist your project and help deliver it on time and budget. You likely have a lot riding on the job, including your reputation. You take your car to the best mechanic. You want your kids to go to the best schools. You may be under the gun financially, and budgeting concerns could drive the hiring process, but if you can, don’t let the final decision be about the fee.

Uses the Latest Technologies and Software

The firm or individual consultant that you are considering should be well-versed in the latest technology and software that relates to your project. He or she should be able to train your staff in any new software that will be used, and get them up to speed in an efficient manner. They should be aware of the latest trends and the best way to implement the tools required for the job.
Knowledge in a Specific Discipline

Clearly, the consultant must have a background in the area of engineering that is needed for the project for which you hire them. They should be an expert with plenty of experience working within the confines of the particular discipline. They should be able to show a demonstrable knowledge of their field as well as ongoing education. You wouldn’t hire a Marine Engineer to consult on a onshore structural job. However, as we show in the next section, they should have a broad knowledge of other disciplines.

General Knowledge of Other Disciplines

A good consultant will know their field in and out. A superb consultant will be able to talk intelligently about a broad spectrum of issues. This is essential to thoroughly understanding the client’s needs. To better serve the potential client a consultant should be able to guide them towards completing the project, even if it means recommending that the client goes in another direction.  Typically a mid-sized to a large firm is better equipped for multi-discipline abilities and can offer more than a sole proprietor.

Confidence in Their Abilities

When you have narrowed your list to a few firms and are in the interview process, look for confidence in their abilities. If they are confident in their work, it will show through when you talk to them. You are looking for poise and a level of self-assurance that is obvious. You may be asking yourself ”what does this have to do with their abilities?”. The answer to that question is that pragmatic and cool-headed individuals can think on their feet during crisis situations. They will not be afraid to tell you what they think instead of what they think you want to hear. These are the type of consultants that you want on your team if you run into trouble, and every job has its share of problems.

A Problem Solver

A consultant should be positioned to make critical decisions and be able to provide you with multiple problem-solving options. They should also be willing and able to go above and beyond the scope of the job they were hired for and make recommendations for solutions beyond what you ask them to do. They should be capable of “seeing the big picture.”

The Right Consultant for the Right Job

If you have a particularly large project, you may need to engage the services of a sizable firm. If, on the other hand, you are adequately keeping up with the job but could use the additional expertise, then a single consultant might be appropriate for your needs. A mid-size company is often the best overall option for your requirements. They typically cover a broad range of engineering disciplines and are staffed well enough to respond to your needs promptly. The point is that most consultants and consulting firms don’t provide a “one size fits all” solution so keep that in mind as you search.

It will take time to find the right engineer or firm. As we mentioned above, it starts with research. As long as you do your homework and implement the suggestions as we have outlined them above, you should find a more than satisfactory consultant. Once you do, you will have a relationship that you can turn to whenever you need extra help.

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The Latest Developments In Oil And Gas Software for Marine Solutions

[Posted on November 2, 2015 by Bill Stewart]

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The last few decades have seen an unprecedented rise in the development of software for virtually every industry. This is nowhere more apparent than in marine and offshore structures, and fluid dynamics. Advances are occurring almost faster than the industry can keep up.

This presents a positive outlook for companies in need of consulting firms that use this technology or who need to implement the software themselves. These innovative tools have changed the face of the entire oil and gas industry with improvements in safety, cost-savings, expedited designs, fast turn-arounds, and more. And it also means an increase in profitability and an improved rate of return financially.

The sheer amount of data that is generated and that is available to everyone from frontline engineers to CEOs is staggering. This, of course, is a boon to the informed decision-making process in terms of effectiveness and real-time choices. New technology always presents a challenge in implementation, but the payouts are worth the time invested in the learning curve.

Specific software applications give consulting firms an edge when it comes to being competitive and acting on opportunities. The latest trends also provide a game-changing way to impact the marine field in a significant manner.

Getting Up to Speed

Luckily, the trend in the industry is toward a less steep learning curve. Having to bring a number of people up to speed on a complicated piece of software can be time-consuming. Of course, there is always a learning curve, but the current software should be and is being streamlined to be more accommodating to individuals who are less technically savvy. You shouldn’t have to be a software engineer to be productive with an application. The objective is to minimize downtime, not only in learning the software but using it as well. It is crucial for training to be available for your employees who are going to be using the software.

Instruction and Support

Quality developers will offer support before and after the purchase, and will be accessible to answer questions and provide guidance. They should work closely with whoever will be using the product to bring them up to productivity as fast as possible.

Ease of Use

In the overall refinement process being used in developing new software technology, the goal is to simplify as much as possible. Making the application easier to use by more people makes it appealing to potential buyers. If the software can be utilized by a greater number of individuals within a company, it increases the versatility of the firm using it. Streamlining isn’t just about usability; it is also about reducing the actual size of the application as well as making it affordable.

Cost-Effective

If an application or piece of software is priced too high, then only large companies can afford licenses. This has a limiting factor on the software manufacturer in that it cuts out a vast portion of mid-size business. There are numerous smaller outfits that are involved in consulting, and if they can’t buy the software, then they are unable to compete. A resulting drop in revenue occurs for the software maker as well as the small business that needs it to survive. Mid-level companies that need to occasionally hire consulting firms may not be able to bear the expense of hiring a larger company. This has an adverse impact all around.

Streamlining

Instead of one-size-fits-all software, developers are streamlining apps to meet specific requirements. You may need to work on structural design and analysis, or assess risk, but you don’t necessarily need software that will do both. A particular application for a specific situation is the very definition of streamlined. If a product is geared toward your industry, then you are not paying for applications that you do not need. Sometimes you require software that covers a broad spectrum of services in one package. However, if you don’t and that is all that is available to you, it then becomes a pricey and complicated prospect. There are pros and cons to a software package that is versatile enough to be used for an array of applications. The same can be said of software that is geared to a specific discipline.

Standards and Best Practices

Finally, new software must adhere to previously adopted standards and best practices. Software generation is a process of evolution by its very nature, but if it doesn’t meet industry compliance and standards, it is useless to everyone. Marine engineering is strictly regulated, and requirements have to be met in a consistent way. This applies to all aspects of the business, including the development of new software.

The goal of any business is longevity and profitability. Any tool or product that helps your firm achieve this is a welcome asset. Marine O&G Software advances have added value to the companies that use it either in-house or for consulting purposes. The tendency is always to push toward the ideal combination of usability and effectiveness.

In the years ahead, we will see brand new applications spring up as well as serious improvements to existing software. We can expect improvements in productivity, effectiveness, and cost management. Additionally, we will also see a marked increase in efficient logistics; scheduling; health and safety planning, and environment monitoring. It is an interesting and exciting time to be part of this software revolution.


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Oil And Gas Software is an Integral Part of a Firm’s Success

[Posted on November 2, 2015 by Bill Stewart]

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From simulation to billing to workflow solutions, software has a significant impact on the day-to-day activities of huge corporations and small consulting firms alike. In many instances, software is the driving force behind the way a company accomplishes its goals. Without it, most businesses could not compete at any level. That is especially true when it comes to the oil and gas industry.

Software has become integrated into virtually every aspect of a company’s functions from data entry to mooring analysis. Software aids in the critical task of helping to create revenue and profitable relationships, as well as saving money and time in everyday operations and specific applications such as marine engineering software or risk assessment.

Solutions for the oil and gas industry are used in a variety of ways, including the design and construction of marine vessels and production platforms, oil spill cleanup, hydrodynamic analysis, mooring design, risk assessment, and much more.

Software Solutions

At Stewart Technology Associates, we are a consulting engineering firm specializing in marine and offshore structures. We offer a broad range of software for the analysis and design of marine systems. We also upgrade and provide aftermarket support for the software applications that we market. We have a thorough understanding of a variety of software applications and can make recommendations for what you need for a specific job, as well as offer training for a particular application. We stay up to date with the current versions and can determine upgrade compatibility on your behalf.

How Does a Small Firm Benefit?

Rapid execution of complex problems is the goal. For a small firm, software applications can perform tasks at a much quicker pace than an individual employee. You can accomplish much more in a limited time frame and a within a smaller budget. It helps keep your employees focused on what is important, by providing results that aid in organization. It can also help with project design and execution in a timely fashion.

The time savings alone are worth the price of admission. The faster you deliver a successful project, the more likely you are to be rehired. Software can help you achieve maximum productivity in a minimal time frame. And it is yours to reuse wherever and whenever it benefits you and your clients. The software will pay for itself with just a few successful projects. If you are relatively busy, you can achieve a rapid return on your initial investment.

Software can help you streamline maintenance, planning, optimization, compliance monitoring, contingency planning, response and recovery, and the sharing of assets and data. It can help supply the accurate and reliable information that is crucial to reducing the amount of time on a project.

What if Affordability is an Issue?

If the cost of an application is an issue, you may want to consider hiring a consulting firm on an as-needed basis for projects that require specific software. What is the bottom line? If the software is something that you will frequently be using for the bulk of your jobs, then it may benefit you to make the investment.

Getting the Necessary Training

If you need training for your employees in the various software applications that you purchased, an excellent way to get them up to speed is using a consulting firm to expedite instruction. This can be cost-effective in the long run because the sooner your engineers and technicians are up to speed, the faster they can apply what they have learned to profitable ventures.

A successful consulting firm will do two things very well: One, understand your needs and make recommendations based on your requirements, and two, train your staff in the use of the software. An engineering consulting firm can provide one on one training or group training in a seminar type atmosphere. They can typically perform training on-site, or they can host your employees at their location.

This is an excellent shortcut to learning the software and gaining hands-on experience. Some consulting firms are resellers of specific software. They can often provide the software at a discount, and include onsite training. A consulting firm can also make recommendations for the type of software that is best suited for a particular project.

Increase Overall Productivity

Time is your most valued asset, and if too much of it is wasted in performing daily tasks, you can implement software to simplify frequent routines. Software can help with time management and allow your staff to focus on the important tasks, such as the projects at hand. Data can be gathered in an organized fashion and accessed by any employee. Productivity can be boosted with the aid of user-friendly, intuitive applications. Workflow is improved all-around.

Ease of Collaboration

Advanced O&G software can improve the collaborative effort among your employees. They will all have access to the same current and accurate data. This means that your various departments can function together easily in a fluid manner on all your projects.

Technology advances at such a rapid rate that it is seemingly impossible to keep up with the latest developments. It is no longer a matter of whether software should be used; it is a now a matter of which software should be used.

Most firms, regardless of size, recognize the need to acquire software to help meet goals and increase profitability. It is necessary to leverage the best technologies available. The demand for streamlined and efficient solutions is growing. A firm may purchase its discipline-specific software or contract with consulting companies that specialize in the disciplines required.

Which solution is more cost effective depends on a lot of factors, and it is something only you can determine. However, with the rate that the industry changes, and the rate that software is upgraded to meet those needs, it may make more sense financially to use consulting firms rather than invest in the software.

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