Launching forward

With excess of 1000 of products installed in more than 150 successful projects around the world, Balltec Engineered Solutions has established a proven track record in the provision of mechanical connectors and engineering solutions to the subsea industry. The business was incorporated in 2004 to capitalise on over 25 years of experience of pioneering and development ball and taper technology for the oil and gas industry. Since the company’s inception Balltec engineers have always placed a significant emphasis on research and development. Initially these developments focused on the deployment of the ball and taper mechanism, which has since been diversified to accommodate a range of applications, including mooring connectors, heavy lifting and pipeline and abandonment recovery tools.

Today Balltec engineers continue to develop and implement innovative subsea products both with and without the ball and taper design. Furthermore the company also undertakes technically challenging and large conceptual projects that range from initial product development through to the manufacture and installation of products, many of which represent the first of their kind. Its ability to provide turnkey and innovative solutions have made Balltec Engineered Solutions the partner of choice for operators all over the world, working with leading subsea players including Subsea7 and Technip, as well as major oil and gas operators including Shell, BP and Total to name a few. Despite the present market conditions resulting from the diminished oil price, Balltec has refrained from scaling back its operations and is instead pursuing new opportunities targeting regions such as Scandinavia, Brazil and Indonesia.

Balltec Issue 125a

Amongst the industry firsts delivered by Balltec is its recently announced design and deployment of a new and innovative subsea PIG launcher. The £450,000 project was awarded by Allseas and represents an additional asset that further compliments the existing services and equipment portfolio available within the Balltec pipeline solutions business. The new PIG launcher itself is a flangeless unit that facilitates the insertion of a PIG into a cut pipe during subsea operations and includes an ROV activated grip and sealing arrangement that negates the need for any additional fixings or flanges to be added to the pipe.

The Subsea PIG Launcher can be used in conjunction with Balltech’s leading PipeLOK pipeline recovery tools that already incorporate gas and liquid injection functionality. When used in combination the launch and recovery system can recover isolated pipe sections that previously would have not have been recoverable. As a bespoke equipment provider, Balltec is able to deliver the Subsea PIG Launcher in a number of sizes and configurations that make it suitable for deployment across a host of subsea operations.

Prior to the unveiling of the new Subsea PIG Launcher, during February 2014 Balltec announced the successful installation of the first buoy on the Guará-Lula project in Brazil. Guará-Lula represents the largest engineering, procurement, installation and commissioning (EPIC) and subsea, umbilical, riser and flowline (SURF) contract ever to be awarded in the region. In line with its continued focus in Brazil, Balltec was tasked with the development and commissioning of a pioneering subsea chain tensioning system and tether top connector for the first Buoy Supported Riser (BSR) System to be installed on the Guará-Lula Project. As such the company began its largest project to date to the design, manufacture, assembly and testing of 36 tether top connectors and six subsea chain tensioners for the BSR system.

Balltec Issue 125b

The BSR system features four large subsea buoys that once moored and tensioned, will support 27 steel catenary risers. Each buoy weighs approximately 2000 tonnes and is installed some 250 metres below sea level. Balltec was invited by Subsea7 to participate in a design competition against more established oil and gas engineering companies and was able to utilise its mooring expertise and extensive engineering abilities to develop a workable conceptual design for the connectors and tensioning system to moor and tension the subsea buoys into their final position. Commenting on the award and execution of the contact, Managing Director Russell Benson remarks: “We secured the contract in the face of stiff competition and our proposal was chosen as the best way forward, but it was still a concept product at that stage and as we continued the project a lot of challenges came to light. We had to fabricate various test rigs to test the functionality of the equipment, we developed a prototype connector which was tested extensively and then from there, once the design was frozen, we had to push on and get the units manufactured.”

As it continues to push forward in delivering innovative solutions in both emerging and established markets, Balltec Engineered Solutions will focus on the strengths of cost reduction and increased efficiency to demonstrate the great benefit of its technology to operators, EPCs and installation contractors. As such the company iskeen to make its presence known through events such as SPE Offshore Europe, where it recently made a lasting impression, as Sales & Marketing Director, Martin Bell concludes: “OE 2015 has been a very successful show for Balltec. We have spoken and presented to senior management from both large operators, EPCs and subsea suppliers. There has been enormous overseas interest, with enquiries from companies in the Far East, Middle East, the US, Europe and beyond.”

Balltec Engineered Solutions

Services: Mechanical connectors and engineering solutions

Issue 125 October 2015