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A client-focused company, Balmoral Offshore Engineering is dedicated to technologically-driven composite and polymer solutions for today's demanding subsea and deepwater oil and gas industry.

Proprietary laboratory, hydrostatic and mechanical testing facilities enable Balmoral to research, identify and develop cost effective materials across a spectrum of applications.

Products include ROV/AUV and subsurface buoyancy, drilling and distributed riser buoyancy, thermal insulation, elastomer cable protection, bend restrictors, stiffeners, clamps and riser protection guards.

Many of Balmoral's SURF-related products are accredited by Bureau Veritas to API 17L standards as follows:

  • Bureau Veritas API 17L1:2013 Specification for flexible pipe ancillary equipment: Distributed buoyancy module and internal clamp
  • Bureau Veritas API 17L1:2013 Specification for flexible pipe ancillary equipment: Dynamic bend stiffener
  • Bureau Veritas API 17L1:2013 Specification for flexible pipe ancillary equipment: Bend restrictor

World-leading subsea test centre under construction

The company is constructing a new manufacturing facility, R&D laboratories and an industry-leading hydrostatic test centre at Group HQ in Aberdeen.

The new centre trebles Balmoral's previous capacity for bespoke hyperbaric testing enhancing the services available to external customers from a range of sectors. Fraser Milne, engineering and projects director at Balmoral, is in charge of the project and has been telling us about the new subsea test centre:

Editor: What will the new test facility bring to the industry?

Fraser Milne: The Balmoral Subsea Test Centre offers a comprehensive range of procedures including hydrostatic, mechanical and laboratory trials.

New and upgraded vessels and procedures are in place offering independent testing for all types of subsea equipment to depths of 10,000msw, 32,808ftsw, equivalent. All our vessels will be underground meaning that access is at ground level making handling much easier and safer.

Bespoke software has been written to allow full test traceability and will provide real time observation from anywhere in the world.

Standard hydrostatic tests include:

  • Uplift determination
  • Water ingress
  • Instrumented buoyancy loss
  • Hydrostatic compression and creep
  • Hydrostatic collapse
  • Bulk modulus
  • Buckle arrestment performance

The test vessels use air driven liquid pumps and can accommodate electric, hydraulic and instrumentation connections. Each vessel can be fitted with chart recorders, pressure and temperature data loggers that provide highly detailed results for analysis.

In terms of mechanical testing the multi-purpose load rig performs the following test-types:

  • Axial and lateral slip loads to 60 tonne
  • Static loading and 3-point bend to 100 tonne
  • Bend restrictor/stiffener load to 10 tonne
  • Bend restrictor locking radius measurement under load
  • Compression and shear testing on companion cylinders to 200 tonne and tensile testing to 150 tonne
  • Dropped weight and swing arm impact testing
  • Lifting point/insert load testing

Editor: What makes it the most comprehensive hyperbaric test centre in the world?

Fraser Milne: Our new centre is impressive by any standards. It is housed adjacent to our R&D laboratories and covers some 800m2 with a working height of 12m. An overhead crane is capable of lifting 40 tonnes while the centre is being fitted out with state of the art remote vessel monitoring and control equipment.

The new facility will house 14 vessels when fully operational and offer a lifting capacity of 40 tonnes with vessels operating to various pressures with a maximum of 10,000psi, 700bar.

We also installed a 9m diameter x 4.5m deep, 286,000 litre, 63,000 gallon, test tank to undertake large scale displacement testing.

Editor: What types of equipment can the new centre accommodate?

Fraser Milne: We test everything from massive drill riser buoyancy modules and ROVs to tiny pieces of subsea equipment such as valves, controls, etc. Equipment can be trialled continuously to suit project requirements.

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