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Scopus sets industry benchmark on large-scale modular build project

Scopus sets industry benchmark on large-scale modular build project

In 2015 Scopus began working on a large modular build of surface facilities for a Middle Eastern customer. The scale of the project is significant; incorporating more than 170 structures being fabricated in 8 locations worldwide, the development of man-made islands, and support facilities for more than 2,000 people. We caught up with Alan Bell, Operations Director, to find out more about the project, and Scopus’ role.

Alan, what can you tell us about the overall project?

It is one of the largest oilfields in the world, with almost 100 existing platforms. The premise of the multibillion dollar project is to increase the field’s production capacity by 50%. The project is currently in the second construction phase, and is due to be completed in 2017.

The first phase of the project focused on the creation of the offshore facilities; which included subsea pipelines, and fibre-optic cables as well as the installation of tens of thousands of tonnes of offshore structures. We are now in the second phase, with the construction of facilities on the artificial islands containing a central complex which will comprise the processing facilities, and satellite facilities.

What is Scopus’ role in this project?

Initially we provided the verification of primary civil foundations in line with project drawings for the individual islands. For the modular build, our job is to ensure that the components of the new infrastructure are fabricated in parallel across multiple locations, and are then brought to fit seamlessly together at site.

Put simply, our role is to reduce the cost and duration of a project, helping the customer to start making money sooner. Our experience, combined with our processes and proprietary software enable us to effectively cut time off the construction schedule through the maximisation of pre-fabrication and minimisation of hot work on site.

So what is dimensional control and how is it being used on the project?

Dimensional control is effectively a way to capture data via a series of surveys. With submillimetre accuracy, these surveys are used to test critical interfaces and tie-in points to ensure that newly fabricated items fit when they arrive at site.

Most people are familiar with dimensional control in a more simplified context, such as changing out pipe spools in a brownfield environment. However, on new build projects like this, Scopus uses dimensional control in a more complex way, using state-of-the-art survey equipment, and our proprietary software and methods, to advance build schedules and dramatically reduce costs.

With the best will in the world, manufactured items are rarely truly exact to the engineering drawings, and this introduces risk into a project. This can result in large cost premium for additional engineering, construction man-hours, and additional steel assemblies if required at site.  So maximising yard fabrication is cheaper for the customer, provides more build and schedule control, and reduces risk. It is also an inherently safer strategy than introducing hot work outside the fabrication yard.

We work closely with EPC contractors and fabricators to deliver optimal design solutions for fabrication and construction which allows multiple fabrication facilitates to be utilised in parallel. We centrally collate all the data, go to the fabrication sites and initiate the modifications required to make sure that everything fits when it gets to site. The key area of saving is the in-direct costs associated with longer build schedules; such as equipment hire, people and projects teams, and delayed start-up. For every hour we can cut off the schedule, the customer saves massively on construction costs; particularly within a lump-sum environment.

Generally speaking the bigger the project, the more value Scopus can add, as we carefully and significantly shave construction times and engineering man-hours along with a host of other benefits. We are currently delivering these benefits to other projects in the oil and gas industry as well as other sectors including petrochemical, nuclear and defence sectors.

How complex are the units being fitting together?

Pre-assembled units (PAUs) contain process equipment including the steel structure, pipework, instrumentation, electrical and telecommunication items and may or may not have equipment like vessels, heat exchangers, filters, and pumps.  As far as possible, they are complete with all equipment, pipework, instruments, wiring/cabling, tubing, insulation and heat tracing, including testing and pre-commissioning. 

The strategy for this project is to build and assemble a sizable amount of equipment as PAUs, as well as pre-assembled pipe racks and modules in offsite fabrication yards around the world including Oman, Abu Dhabi, Italy, Dubai, China, South Korea and Singapore, and then ship them to site. Piping in the racks are then joined together using our single-weld philosophy, developed for the specific needs of this project, to provide a clash-free first-time-fit. To date, almost 70 PARs have been successfully installed using our single-weld philosophy.

Tell us more about development of the single-weld philosophy?

We knew that there was a requirement for a single-weld philosophy on this project, and this was almost unheard of for this size of project. We set out to develop a philosophy which was specific to the parameters, requirements and conditions of the project. The development was faced with a number of challenges, some of which included; PARs being fabricated simultaneously in various parts of the world; varying ambient temperatures to be managed and accounted for across the eight yards; and the lack of weld gap specification. These issues had the potential to introduce risk into the philosophy and the project, but we mitigated these from the outset.

We used the facilities at our in-house Training Academy to system test mock–ups and prove survey methods that delivered the results needed. As part of this process we identified and actioned additional code to our proprietary mathematical survey software. It took approximately six months of development and testing before we submitted our proposal, with a fully developed survey methodology and supporting procedures.

You must be pleased with the progress on the project to date?

A single-weld philosophy is almost unheard of for a project of this scale in our industry, but Scopus is at the forefront of technology, and we knew that we could do it. We’re delighted that our input is proving so valuable to our customer, and very proud that our work on this project has set a benchmark for our industry.

For more information on this project, contact Operations Director, Alan Bell or BD Manager, Robert Hamilton.