The O-lay offshore pipe lay method is a concept for offshore pipeline and girth welded riser installation which has many advantages compared with traditional installation methods.
The method uses an onshore construction yard in which the pipeline is produced, then wound in a flat monolayer spiral floating on the water and finally towed to location to be installed with the help of a simplified lay barge.
Critics find that the spiralisation process is one of the limitations of the technology due to the high forces that are needed to build such a floating spiral and to keep it in shape.
Furthermore criticism has been put forward that consumption of fatigue resistance for the orbital welds during storage and transport of the spiral influence the actual fatigue resistance during installation and finally the fatigue life of the pipeline in a way that is unacceptable for the pipeline quality.
In this paper I will refute the above points of criticism.
The O-lay technology has not been accepted by most of the offshore related companies. That this non-acceptance has not a technical or economic motivation but rather a strategic one has to do with the enormous change the methodology would have on the offshore pipeline and riser installation industry as a whole and especially the impact it will have on the revenue model for these capital intensive companies.
The method challenges the status quo in the pipeline industry by having a better product, having a lower cost structure, having a faster installation rate and having a safer working environment.
It has been said too often that innovation is necessary for the offshore pipeline industry and so far the steps taken are small. There is a big challenge for the offshore industry to develop technologies so that we can all benefit from these “out of the box” ideas. Disruptive innovations might look like a big hurdle for the short term, in the long term the oil and gas industry will benefit from it. Especially when you take in account, that the financial savings on several projects, of residual stress this annual 30 billion dollar industry of pipeline installation, will be 50% and more.
In the end we can all learn from each other by knowledge exchange and the discussion that would evolve to increase the speed of innovation in offshore pipeline and riser installation. I trust sincerely that the transfer of knowledge about the O-lay methodology will help companies benefit in decision making processes.