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Intervention Systems Bring Efficiency to Deepwater Intervention Vessels

( 09/24/2021 ) Written by: Anne Torgler

Deepwater drilling has expanded dramatically since the 1990s and the rapidly aging equipment is expensive to replace. Now is the time to look at intervention systems to maintain aging wellheads and optimize production efficiency. Many of the subsea wellheads throughout the world are more than 20 years old and in need of intervention. It is costly to replace the equipment, especially during these challenging economic times, when the oil and gas industry is suffering due to COVID-19 and barrel price fluctuations.

An intervention system allows an existing well to be cleaned out of the gunk, rust or scale so the well can be brought up to a higher production level. Although the well will not meet the original production levels, performing interventions will significantly increase the output. Twenty years ago, a brand new well may have cost $20 million. Today, that price tag would be about $31 million.  However, intervention may cost $4 million, making it more efficient to do the maintenance work to make the well more effective.

An important part of maintaining a well is to use an Intervention System Flexible Joint. It is a softer, more flexible part versus the traditional stiff stress joints. In deepwater operations, a flexible joint allows a bending moment at the wellhead, so it works well in rougher sea states. This flexibility and low stiffness greatly reduce stresses in older equipment compared to a traditional tapered stress joint.

To use our Intervention System Flexible Joint with an existing riser system, simply bolt the mating flange on and it will attach to the existing system. The flexible joint provides pressure containment redundancy with the seal bearing and load bearing improving reliability over a single-bearing design. The seal bearing is optimized for high pressure containment and fluid resistance. The integrated pressure transducer provides a condition monitoring system that alerts you when the first barrier is damaged so you can act accordingly. This failsafe is unavailable on a stress joint or a conventional flexible joint. 

Whether it is weather, malfunctions or errors that cause the vessel to drift off location, our flexible joint allows the vessel a wider range of motion without excessive bending of the riser. Our flexible joint allows unlatching at the wellhead even at 10 degrees. 

Helix Energy Solutions is using our intervention system flexible joints on several intervention vessels, including the Q7000 semisubmersible and the Siem II w.  The flexible joint has also been used on the Well Enhancer in the North Sea. 

Let’s start a conversation. Fill out this form and a member of our engineering team will contact you to discuss how flexible joints might be able to increase your output.


Interested in learning more about our flexible joint systems? Here are a few resources to check out:


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