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Energy Innovations


Technology Goes Deep


You would have to go 5000–6000' (1525–1830 m) under water to see the AZ-10 fully concentric vertical mono-bore subsea tree operating in its natural working habitat. Te AZ-10 subsea tree manufactured by Argus Subsea (Houston) is off-the-shelf hardware that can operate effectively anywhere a rig can power a blowout preventer (BOP). Te AZ-10 features a standard horizontal tree design with a universal tubing hanger system that runs in any 18.75" (476 mm), 10,000 or 15,000 psi (69 or 103 MPa) wellhead. With a concentric design for all downhole and tubing hanger-to- tree interfaces, it can be quickly and cost effectively put into service. Te AZ-10 subsea tree illustrates the precision machining challenges that oil field


accessories and their components present. Te unit weighs in at about 50,000 lb (22,680 kg), is light enough to be handled safely with rig cranes and is easily transported to the moon pool for deployment. Te AZ-10 requires only five running tools versus 20–30 typically found on comparable subsea tree systems and is designed for 20 years of service life in production, injection or well test operations. Te hanger system on the AZ-10 operates on a lock-and-seal


system that uses mechanical and hydraulic sealing within the tubing hanger. A key component designed into the AZ-10 is the AMLOK hydraulic rod lock provided by Advanced Machine & Engineering (AME; Rockford, IL). To address the issues of depth and pressure, AME engineered the rod locks from 4140 steel with electroless nickel plating and a specially formulated two-part epoxy to create a com- pletely sealed unit. Marine-grade lubricant was used. With the external sealing system of the AZ-10 and the wide variety


of connections involved, the construction of the rod lock also needed to accommodate the unique challenges of force over distance in a wide window of installation conditions. Because the customer’s requirement was very cost sensitive, it was necessary for AME to create a one-size-works-for-all unit, an application engineering challenge that AME engineers were able to meet.


When Counting Rigs Add Multiple Horizontal Shafts With current oil prices hovering just under $100 a barrel for West Texas Inter-


mediate and natural gas prices at $4.25 per thousand cubic feet (vs. a not-breaking- even disincentive of $3–$3.25 per thousand cubic feet), 2014 looks to be good based on OEM activity, especially subsea. With the continuing success of fracking in North America, it’s likely that major OEMs will continue to redeploy assets from overseas plays for investment into the newly profitable US shelf plays. Te impact on machine tool builders and suppliers of everything from machining centers, CNC lathes, boring mills and ancillary equipment will continue to drive developments in their latest technology offerings. Rig counts, which are closely watched to gage oil & gas industry activity, have taken on new meaning. In the past, one rig typically meant one well. Today’s


Weighing in at 50,000 lb (22,680 kg), the AZ-10 subsea tree is light enough to be handled safely with rig cranes, easily transported to the moon pool and deployed for cost-saving completion of subsea wells in 5000 to 6000' (1525–1829 m) of water.


Horizontal drilling multiplies demand for machined components and accessories.


Jim Lorincz Senior Editor


Energy Manufacturing 2014 81


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