Oceaneering Addresses Stuck Valves and Restores Production for OKEA

Using simple tooling to solve complex challenges in the North Sea.

1 Project Overview

In October 2020, Norwegian operator OKEA approached Oceaneering seeking a solution to address four stuck actuators located on subsea trees at the Draugen field.

The actuators, located in water depths of 300 m, were locked in an open position, prohibiting regular operations, and the cause was unknown.







2 Challenge

Failing to return the valves to normal operation could have resulted in OKEA having to pull the tree.

OKEA wanted to resume full production as soon as possible, resulting in a very tight schedule for the ROV-operated tooling development.

3 Our Solution

Oceaneering worked closely with the client and used schematics of the stuck actuators to develop potential repair solutions.

Several concepts for valve operation, using new and existing tools, were developed in parallel to ensure the operation was completed with minimum risk.

Engineers used 3D modelling software and extensive in-house 3D printing capabilities to develop and evaluate viable solutions.

After narrowing the concept pool to a bespoke project-specific tooling suite, Oceaneering used a combination of in-house machining and a network of local suppliers to ensure all necessary parts could be manufactured within the project schedule. The suite included a simple stem gripper tool and additional redundancy in the form of bespoke drill and tap tools.

Rigorous testing was also completed at Oceaneering’s facilities in Stavanger. A test stand identical to the tree at Draugen was used to vet the tooling, enabling engineers to refine designs and make improvements that ensured proper operation once deployed. Originally designed to pull a minimum of one ton, the stem gripper tool overachieved during testing operations, pulling up to 15 ton.

All testing activities were video recorded so remotely operated vehicle (ROV) pilots could later familiarize themselves with the tools. Adding additional complexity to the project was the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic which limited in-person interaction. The ability to live-stream testing activities and hold regular virtual meetings enabled collaboration and essential communications between OKEA and the Oceaneering team.

Play Video

Tooling suite under development and testing

4 Results

The tools were deployed to site in January 2021.

The stem gripper tool was successful, eliminating the need to use the back-up tools. OKEA was able to save five days’ time of the offshore operations schedule and, most importantly, the tree did not need to be pulled. Pulling the tree would have resulted in a year's lost production. Since their initial use in early 2021, the stem pulling tool has been successfully used for the same purpose, reconfirming their fitness for purpose, and maintaining production for OKEA.

Play Video

Successful remote actuation after tool gripper released stuck valve

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Company page Since our founding in the early 1960s, Oceaneering has expanded and grown globally to service several industries such as the offshore energy industry, defense, entertainment, material handling, aerospace, science, and renewable energy industries. In 1964, Mike Hughes and Johnny Johnson formed a Gulf of Mexico diving company called World Wide Divers. The company grew in response to increasing demand for their services and in 1969 merged with two other diving companies to form Oceaneering International, Inc. To solve the toughest challenges, we do things differently, creatively, and smarter. As your trusted partner, our unmatched experience and truly innovative portfolio of technologies and solutions give us the flexibility to adapt and evolve, regardless of market conditions. Our mission is to solve the unsolvable. We thrive by creating industry-changing technically creative solutions for the most complex operational challenges under water, on land, and in space. Our five core values establish a common culture and demonstrate what is most important for us as a company. Since the beginning, the company has transformed from a small regional diving company into a global provider of engineered products and services. Today, we develop products and services for use throughout the lifecycle of an offshore oilfield, from drilling to decommissioning. We operate the world's premier fleet of work class ROVs. Additionally, we are a leader in offshore oilfield maintenance services, umbilicals, subsea hardware, and tooling. We also serve the aerospace, defense, and theme park industries. Underpinning everything we do, safety is not only the foundation of our core values, but it is vital to our unmatched performance record and company culture. The industries we serve are as diverse as they are complex. Whether we are engineering deepwater umbilicals or developing robotics for aerospace applications, the safety and health of our employees, vendors, and customers is an integral part of our day-to-day business. If we are working, then our responsibility is to be working safely. Since our inception in 1964, we have placed a high value on employee safety—from diving services and subsea inspection to vessel-based installation operations. We have and will continue to evolve not only our health, safety, and environmental (HSE) processes, but those of the industries in which we work. Although we have been fatality-free since 1999, our HSE journey goes beyond statistics. As our portfolio of services has grown, we have continued to prioritize and advance our approach to HSE.