Established in 1874, Hunting PLC is an international provider of equipment and services to the world’s leading national and international oil and gas companies in the “upstream sector”. Part of Hunting PLC’s operations in Scotland are undertaken in Aberdeen by Hunting Energy Services (UK) Ltd, providing innovative technology, engineering and support services to the Oil and Gas industry. Its proprietary products and services are well-suited to even the most challenging environments in the areas of well construction, well completion and exploration and production.
Hunting Energy Services (UK) Ltd first encountered Interface at a seminar in 2007, where Dr Siobhán Jordan spoke on expanding business through university links. Part of Hunting’s business strategy is to form closer links with universities and Interface’s offering presented the company with the perfect opportunity to do this.
As part of its continual emphasis to deliver innovative, customer driven solutions, Hunting was keen to employ academic expertise to carry out more detailed research and gain a deeper insight into its existing technology, in a range of key areas.
Following further consultation with Interface, Hunting focussed on three main projects:
Business Challenge: Threaded Connections on Oil and Gas Well Pipes
The first project involved exploring frictional properties of threaded connections on oil and gas well pipes. The objective of the project was to build experimental test apparatus to measure coefficients of friction under a range of manufacturing process variables and to feed the resulting data into test models. This will result in cost savings on otherwise numerous full-scale tests.
Hunting had already made improvements to traditional thread surface treatments but was keen to further exploit advanced surface lubrication as a substitute for grease-based thread compound lubricants which often contain heavy metals. The main benefit of this system is the elimination of rig-site tubular preparation before the product is deployed into the well, enhancing both the environmental and safety profile of the workplace and increasing customer installation efficiency.
Interface set up a meeting between Hunting and the University of Dundee’s Dr Alan Slade and Dr Huirong Le, both from the Division of Mechanical Engineering and Mechatronics.
Following further discussions, it was agreed that for this first project there was scope to carry out two parallel Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs). The first, an 18 month long KTP, and the second a two year KTP both carried out by Dundee University.
Business Challenge: Pressure Limits of Pipe-End Test Fixtures
The second project involved the design verification of high pressure threaded pipe-end test fixtures to confirm the pressure limits based on their current design. The pipe-end fixtures are machined out of solid bar steel and screw onto each end of the pipe assembly to enable pipe components to be pressure tested.
Interface introduced Hunting to Dr Bostjan Bezensek, from the Department of Mechanical Engineering, at The University of Glasgow who expedited an engineering study on the pressure test fixtures. This study led to a second, separate study being carried out to evaluate some make-up mechanisms of pipe connections which also required a visit to JFE Steel Corporation in Japan - one of Hunting ’s joint venture industry partners.
Business Challenge: Improved Thread Protection System
The third project involved a design study to provide an improved thread protection system. Hunting was keen to work with an academic group to see what novel devices could be designed to provide in-storage and transit protection for pipe threaded ends, allowing for their quick fitting and removal.
Interface helped set up a collaboration with the Department of Mechanical Engineering at The University of Glasgow. Under the direction of Dr Graham Green, his class of MSc. Engineering & Design students undertook the design exercise and presented their ideas to Alun Roberts, Engineering Manager at Hunting Energy Services (UK) Ltd. Some of the more promising ideas were put forward for a larger individual project directed towards an MSc student over the summer months. An MSc student was identified, who undertook a trip to Aberdeen to familiarise themselves with the pipe production and storage lifecycle and define the project objectives, which he worked on over the summer months.
Alun Roberts, Engineering Manager at Hunting, said: “Interface has put us in contact with a number of academics and helped us to access the relevant expertise to progress key projects to enhance our products. We work in a competitive market and staying one step ahead of the game is vital in our business. These new partnerships will help us to deliver even better results for our customers and we’ve been very pleased with the progress that’s been made to date.”