Vulcan the Offshore Experience: Installation of Conventional Platforms

Offshore oil was first explored and produced at Baku in the then Russian Empire at the beginning of the twentieth century. About the same time the discovery of onshore oil in Texas and Louisiana induced enormous changes in the economy of that region, making it not only a centre of oil production but also a centre for oil field services and equipment. The oilfield was and is a demanding environment for people and equipment, requiring extraordinary organisation of people and use of technology. We normally think of efforts such as the space programme spinning off technology, but the oilfield has done so as well, in ways that may not be as obvious to ordinary consumers but which are equally beneficial.

The move offshore in the Gulf of Mexico for the oil industry started after World War II. It started in the coastal areas of Louisiana, where land and sea tend to run together. The further out things went, the larger the platforms and the equipment needed to install them.

In this presentation we will concentrate on the Gulf of Mexico mainly because it is here where Vulcan’s foray into offshore oil construction first came, although both the industry and Vulcan were worldwide in scope.

Conventional Platforms

When we speak of “conventional platforms” we mean those which have a continuous rigid structure from the sea bed to the ocean surface. These were developed for water depths generally not exceeding 300 m, although a few exceed that in depth. These are generally tubular structures using large diameter pipe, much of which was rolled from plate at the yard and butt welded before being welded into the platform. The coping and sheer size of these structures–some of which were as tall as the original World Trade Centre in New York–required very specialised and competent fabrication capabilities.

Below: coming into a platform on a helicopter, in this case the Cognac platform in the Gulf of Mexico.

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