Both departments are further broken down into technical disciplines for mechanical, electrical and automation work. While most of the resources are concentrated in PM, this is primarily a matter of responsibility for resources or personnel, and does not say much about what work these two entities do and where.
The two departments borrow personnel from each other, depending on the work to be done. PM is responsible for maintenance on the platforms down to and including the Xmas trees. Responsibility for the wells themselves rests with the petroleum technology entity on land.
Preventive maintenance is done during normal production and if nothing urgent comes up. Each item of equipment on a platform is covered by its own maintenance plan, organised in a work order programme.
Analyses may show, for example, that a specific pump needs to be overhauled at three-month intervals to run optimally. So PM will automatically receive a work order for this unit every third month.
Most of the resources are devoted to PM. Should anything happen suddenly, such as a key pump breaking down, the response has a high priority and is O&M’s job. It can then draw on resources from PM. The latter remains responsible as long as everything proceeds normally.
The O&M leader’s job is to ensure optimum operation of the relevant platform and to keep things flowing. However, achieving that depends on PM carrying out equipment maintenance.
Each of O&M’s technicians is responsible for a designated area of the platform – the shafts, the cellar deck or the module deck (which contains so much equipment that it is broken down into several areas).
Working with the process facilities, the technicians conduct inspections and report any faults they find in the database. All these reports are discussed in the “24-hour” meeting attended by the maintenance and technical discipline leaders and the platform manager.
They discuss the criticality of the fault, how quickly it must be repaired and who is to do the work. High-priority jobs must be executed within five days, medium-priority within a month, low-priority within six months and non-essential work within a year.
Statoil employees are not the only people working on Statfjord. Contractors also play a key role in maintenance activities.
These include Kaefer Energy, responsible for the insulation, scaffolding and surface treatment (ISO) trades. In addition come Aker Inspeksjon, which mainly inspects platform piping, and Aibel for maintenance and modification work.
All three of these companies secured four-year contracts on Statfjord in the summer of 2010, with Kaefer taking over the frame agreement from Beerenberg Corp and Aibel from Aker.
Aker Inspeksjon takes X-rays of platform piping, opens it to check for corrosion and reports if rusting has gone too far. Pipe sections are replaced by Aibel, which gives an estimate for the job. If Statoil accepts that price, the job is placed. Engineering work is handled by Aibel’s own organisation on land.
Kaefer erects scaffolding, which is much used on the platforms. It also handles insulation. Firewater piping must be insulated, for example, to prevent its contents from freezing when temperatures fall below freezing. Its surface treatment duties include cleaning, sandblasting and coating.
The company follows a dedicated maintenance programme for all its assignments, and uses its own subcontractors for work which requires specialist expertise not available in-house. That applies to rope access technicians, for example, who are used particularly in areas where scaffolding is difficult to erect.
Kaefer does not have such personnel of its own, but hires teams as and when required. Rope access specialists are also used by Aker Inspeksjon and by the drilling and well department.
Contractors report to the PM head. Kaefer’s organisation includes an ISO leader in charge of three foremen – one for each speciality. Aibel has a field engineer and Aker Inspeksjon a senior inspector, who both report to the PM leader.
Other companies also come out to the field on special assignments, and have fixed cycles for maintaining equipment. These include Rapp Bomek, responsible for fire doors on all the platforms, and Heistek for lift maintenance.
Dynamics between sea and land
The PM department is supported by a large “mirror” organisation on land. This includes the PM and O&M leaders, heads of the mechanical, electrical and automation disciplines, operation managers, planners, and production and maintenance engineers. The latter have system responsibility for such facilities as compressors, pipelines and structures, and were moreover the first group of technical personnel moved to land.
Duties of the mirror team include planning and organising the next two-week offshore tour, as well as viewing maintenance in a long-term perspective.
Preventive maintenance jobs are entered in a computer system, but all work must be planned – what is specifically to be done, how much time this will take, the resources required and how the jobs can be executed best and most safely. This is done by the land team for each platform.
A dedicated skilled worker pool is also located on land. At times with a high level of activity, involving much maintenance and additional projects calling for a lot of assistance, the offshore maintenance departments can report their requirements to the pool. This comprises maintenance personnel employed by Statoil who do not work permanently on any installation, but go out to whichever one needs assistance.
A plan for the next 14-day tour is drawn up by the land organisation, and the performance of all offshore disciplines is assessed in relation to this schedule for each period.
The preferential breakdown for a planning period is 80 per cent planned and 20 per cent corrective maintenance – nicknamed “ring and run”. Should the amount of unplanned corrective maintenance exceed 20 per cent, however, it takes up more of the resources.
Bad weather can also curb progress – if the cellar deck, for example, has to be closed off because of wind and high waves. The goal is for the department as a whole to fulfil the two-week plan. Should one technical discipline lag behind by more than 50 per cent during a period, the others in the department usually lend a had to get the job done.
New operations model and working environment
Following the merger with Hydro’s oil and energy division, a new operational model was adopted for all Statoil installations. That included the creation of the present O&M and PM structure.
The maintenance department had earlier been regarded as a second-rank team which did the boring routine work, while operations had the action-filled jobs. The two departments now work together as a team, and feedback from employees indicates that the gap between them has narrowed.
During and after the Statoil-Hydro integration, people were encouraged to apply for jobs on other platforms in order to increase workforce flexibility. A number of them left, but many returned.
Old platforms present more challenges. Although much has been replaced, a good deal of elderly equipment remains on Statfjord. People who work there sometimes say that the maintenance personnel may be too capable.
They keep old hardware going which could otherwise have been replaced with more modern and ergonomic units. Part of the work is physically demanding, and sites can be cramped and hard to get at.
Projects are constantly under way on the Statfjord platforms. A good deal of work has been done in connection with the late life programme, for example, involving major modifications on all three installations. These have largely been implemented while the field is in full operation, with all the challenges that presents for maintenance personnel.
The late life job was completed on 1 January 2012 after six years of construction. During that period, a good deal of other maintenance was put on hold and is now due to resume. The first job is a complete renovation of the quarters on Statfjord B.
Conversion and maintenance work is largely carried out while the platforms are in full production, but some jobs call for output to be suspended. These are done during a turnaround. Implemented during the summer, a shutdown of this kind allows maintenance, modifications or new installations to be carried out with all or part of the production process out of action.
Turnarounds used to take place annually, but their frequency has been reduced to biennial on Statfjord over the past five-six years. However, the amount of work conducted in each shutdown has not increased thanks to long experience with inspection programmes, improvements and equipment replacement.
Contractors play a key role during a turnaround. Aker can inspect tanks and piping which are difficult to access while production is under way, for example. Replacing large items of equipment and piping also calls for a shutdown. A dedicated audit team is appointed well before a turnaround to work on the scope of the work and to plan everything down to the smallest detail. The aim is to keep the shutdown as short as possible, because a production stoppage means lost revenue.
Daily life of a PM leader
A PM leader is not necessarily a skilled worker. Maintenance of a Statfjord platform involves a wide range of trades, and knowing everything would be impossible.
The most important aspects of a PM leader’s role are to coordinate the work, see things in a slightly longer perspective and rely on the skilled personnel being able to do – and doing – their work in the best possible way.
A working day is characterised many coordination activities and meetings.
- The 24-hour meeting. The first session begins at 06.45. It is attended by the PM leader and the O&M leaders for administration and operation respectively, as well as the platform manager. Everyone is updated on what has happened in the operation and maintenance area over the past day – whether jobs need additional resources and how the work is coordinated.
- The platform manager provides a briefing on oil, gas and water production, the weather, and drilling and well operations.
- At 07.00, the PM leader goes to the light repair workshop, where the mechanical, electrical and automation technicians are assembled. The same data are provided there, along with information from the afternoon meeting the day before – particularly concerning health, safety and the environment (HSE) and observations.
- The mechanics then go to their own location, and the leader goes through the day’s work with the electricians and automation technicians.
- This includes clarifying the need for coordination, scaffolding, collaboration with the mechanics and other aspects which will have consequence for their own work or that of others.
- The leader then goes through the same details with the mechanics.
- Work is under way by about 07.20.
- The 09.00 coffee break is an institution on all Norwegian offshore platforms.
- Separate coffee rooms are provided for the mechanics and the electricians/automation technicians. The PM leader usually goes to one of these to hear how things are getting on.
- Work from 09.15 until lunch. Most people take an hour for lunch between 11.00 and 13.00 – not all at once, or the queues for food get too long.
- The 15.00 coffee break is another institution, with the disciplines once again meeting in their separate rooms. The PM leader pops into both to learn what has happened during the day, whether anything needs to be raised at the afternoon meeting, whether any planned jobs involve others, and whether anything must be coordinated.
- The afternoon meeting takes place at 17.00. This is a relatively large gathering of the PM and two O&M leaders, the platform manager, contractor representatives, the construction manager if any projects are under way, the safety manager, the HSE coordinator, the catering manager and the logistics manager. Several people from the drilling and well department attend, depending on what it is doing. The chief safety delegate usually attends as well. Work permits graded WP1 are reviewed collectively.
Automation/instrumentation involves using electronic signals to monitor equipment. Fiscal metering is a specific job, and one person has primary responsibility for the metering instruments used to allocate petroleum between the partners, for sales and for calculating tax. Even minor errors with such metering amounts to substantial sums. The automation discipline is also responsible for all fire and gas systems – detection, sprinklers and so forth.
The electricians maintain all electrical equipment on the platform, while the mechanics deal with machinery and other installations.
Interview with Elin Marie Halvorsen, planned maintenance leader, Statfjord B, by Trude Meland, Norwegian Petroleum Museum, 30 January 2012.