Plans for a joint industry project (jip) to develop standard specifications for large-scale forgings as part of an initiative to expand the supply chain has inadvertently revealed a new standardisation drive, apparently being encouraged, if not led, by ExxonMobil.

Two years ago, DNV attempted to whip up interest in a materials jip and drew a blank. Just six months ago, there apparently were rumblings of interest and DNV is attempting to kick start it again. This has partly grown out some interest in attempting to source forgings for, amongst others things, subsea xmas tree blocks from outside the traditional sources, notably from India. This has partly been thwarted by operator-specific specifications.

Need or nice?

As with all standardisation movements, it always comes down to differentiating between what are the really necessary requirements and what are the ‘nice to haves’. The aim of the jip is improve not only the quality of forgings, but also delivery times. Cost has also been mentioned, but that will always be a confidential issue between seller and buyer.

Another issue of significance is quantity. It may be that the main hardware manufacturers will have to look at bigger orders by looking forward to projected contracts to secure forging supplies at a more reasonable cost.

One rather interesting concern in relation to achieving standard forgings is to reduce the risk of failure. It is not often one hears about forging failures.

Why ExxonMobil has become particularly keen is one for surmise. Back in January, Lee Tillman, veep for engineering, told the GE Oil & Gas technology (SEN, 29/22) gathering that subsea, in particular seabed processing, was of growing importance to ExMob with so many of the new opportunities in deeper waters or in the Arctic. He revealed a five-year long programme of technology development.

Then there was a story, possibly apochryphal, about a senior ExMob executive who asked someone in the subsea engineering department about subsea xmas trees and the delivery time. When told it could be up to two years, what came back was the query, ‘why?’

While most standardisation drives are about hardware specifications, there is now interest in expanding the scope. SEN has been told that the Norwegian Oil & Gas Association which includes many of the new much smaller operators on the NCS is interested in including project execution and documentation.

As SEN went to press today (Thursday), it was learned that all of the major hardware vendors - Aker Solutions Cameron, DrilQuip, FMC and GE Oil & Gas - have signed up to the jip. ExMob and Chevron have expressed serious intent, along with Shell, Statoil and Total.