Oct 05
Into The Deep Blue – Vashishta & S1 Development Project
Into The Deep Blue – Vashishta & S1 Development Project
India, one of the world’s largest and fastest growing economies, is on course to becoming the leading consumer of energy by 2035. Its thirst for energy will be defined by natural gas – expanding at about 1.6% per year it will grow faster than both oil and coal. In its bid to cater to this upcoming demand ONGC, country’s largest producer of crude oil and natural gas has embarked on an ambitious plan that entails exploration of deepwater opportunities in the Krishna Godavari Basin off the east coast of India. Specifically, the Maharatna Company has set its sight on the Vashishta and S1 fields in the basin which hold vast gas reserves in waters 700 meters deep.
Subsea Installation of Vashishta & S1 Development Project was conceptualised by ONGC on EPCIC (Engineering, Procurement, Construction, Installation and Commissioning) basis to tap the unexplored gas reserves off the east coast of India. On December 1, 2015, it awarded the project to a consortium of L&T Hydrocarbon Engineering Limited (LTHE), a fully owned subsidiary of L&T and McDermott International (McDermott) after a round of intense international competitive bidding.
The partnership between LTHE and McDermott offered a value proposition that no other vendor could. Having signed a long-term agreement to execute subsea projects on the east coast of India, LTHE and McDermott brought a cost-effective approach utilizing LTHE’s state-of-the-art, strategically located Modular Fabrication Facility in Kattupalli (MFF-K), Chennai. Besides a spool base to support deepwater pipelay that was setup at MFF-K, the facility also boasts of expertise in manufacturing critical subsea components deployed to collect and transport fluids from the seabed to shore. This combined with the versatile fleet of McDermott was enough for ONGC to entrust the consortium with the job.
A Colossal Scope

Deepwater development projects are every bit as challenging and complex as they sound. The deepwater Vashishta & S1fields are envisaged to produce and deliver 4.55 MMSCMD of gas through twin subsea pipelines to the onshore terminal.  The infrastructure on the seabed includes a number of subsea structures which are used to collect and transfer well fluids to the twin pipelines. With no scope of human intervention at these water depths, all the controls for production system are through electro-hydraulic umbilicals installed on the seabed and linked to the control room onshore.  These systems have to be designed to endure the harsh environment in these waters for 20 years.  

The Vashishta field comprises two wells (VA-DA and VA-DB) and is located in water depths of 500 to 700 meters. The S1 field comprises two wells (S-2AB and S-AC) and is located in water depths of approximately 250 to 420 meters. The onshore processing terminal at Odalarevu is located at about 90 km to the south-east of Rajahmundry.

The scope for the project covered Surveys (pre-engineering, pre-construction/pre-installation and post-installation), Design, Engineering, Procurement, Fabrication, Load out, Tie down/Sea fastening, Tow-out/Sail-out, Transportation, Installation, Hook-up, Testing, Pre-commissioning and commissioning of entire facilities for the following:

a) Laying of 14” dual rigid pipelines from Odalarevu Onshore Terminal to VA-DA (2 x 14” x 42.7 km   approx., of which approx. 7 km in onshore) and from VA-DA to VA-DB (2 x 14” x 4.4 km approx.)
b) Pipeline End Manifold (PLEM) near VA-DB
c) Procurement and installation of Production Umbilicals and Infield Production Umbilicals
d) Installation of subsea control units like Subsea Distribution Units (SDUs), Umbilical Termination Assemblies (UTAs), Umbilical Termination and Distribution Assemblies (UTDAs)
The infrastructure on the seabed comprised Inline Tees (ILTs), Pipeline End Terminations (PLETs), Pipeline End Manifold (PLEM), PLET / PLEM tie-in spool pieces, Wellhead tie-in spool pieces and Pipeline crossover spool pieces.
An Impossible Deadline

The consortium was to execute the project in 20 months, a nearly impossible deadline considering the nature and the scale of the development. The gruesome schedule, if it was to be met, required precise planning for all deliverables including long lead items such as corrosion and concrete coated linepipes and subsea valves. The east coast which is prone to cyclones and rough weather also offered an extremely limited window of four months for offshore installation.

Precise engineering from McDermott’s design office in Kuala Lumpur, quick resolution of interfaces by LTHE and McDermott Project Management Teams and swift coordination among various stakeholders spread across different geographies was of paramount importance. Concurrent engineering and ensuring that work fronts were available to Procurement and Fabrication teams was also key to beating the clock and delivering the project on time.

Procurement timelines are always crucial for project schedule. In order to complete the fabrication and subsequent installation on time, delivery of materials at fabrication yard is extremely crucial. Vashishta & S1 Development Project saw orders being placed for two critical packages within a fortnight from project award date. This included pipelines by LTHE and umbilicals by McDermott. Another critical item for meeting the project schedule was complicated subsea valves which were delivered on time after expeditious engineering interface resolution and close coordination with the vendor. Orders for all other critical and long lead items were placed expeditiously leveraging LTHE and McDermott’s vast vendor base spread across the globe.

Fabrication – Zero Punch Points

Subsea structures which are intended to have Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) interventions need to be manufactured with high precision and tight tolerances to sustain for design life of 20 years. Moreover, the timeline for fabricating all the subsea structures and rigid jumpers in less than 10 months along with rigorous testing compounded the challenge. These intricacies required engagement of high-end services such as three dimensional survey and specialized processes associated with small bore tubing.

All the fabricated structures underwent a series of tests as part of the Factory Acceptance Test (FAT) and System Integration Test (SIT) wherein subsea conditions are simulated on shore to assess the functionality of the system. ROV operability was also checked during the testing phase to make sure that the structures were installed in one go without the need for any re-work or re-intervention.

Meticulous planning, engineering, synchronized teamwork and skilful coordination meant that all the structures were ready ahead of schedule for sail out without any punch points.
Portable Spoolbase – A First for India

The Project involved setting up of a portable Spoolbase at LTHE’s MFF-K Yard, a first for Indian shores. The Spoolbase was set up on a stretch of land 1.2 km long and 35 m wide. This space was used to spool individual line pipes measuring 12.2 m each into a 977 m long pipe which was later reeled / spooled onto a carousel mounted on McDermott’s reel-lay vessel North Ocean 105. The unique pipelay methodology enabled the consortium to install pipelines and structures in deepwaters against rough weather conditions in a short span of time. Any conventional pipelay process would have found these conditions unsuitable for completion of the project in the scheduled period.
Loadout, Transportation & Installation

Marine logistics engaged for Vashishta & S1 Development Project was far-reaching with number of survey vessels, installation vessels and supply boats deployed for the project. Fabricated subsea structures were loaded out onto supply vessels from Kattupalli and transported to the field for installation. Offshore installation was carried out in a phased manner which began with installation of concrete and corrosion coated linepipe and main production umbilical in shallow water followed by deepwater linepipe along with the fabricated subsea structures and finally control systems which included the rigid jumpers and in-field umbilicals.
In addition to the offshore installation, the scope also involved the onshore installation of approximately seven kilometres of twin pipelines and 3.5 kilometres of umbilical. These onshore pipelines and umbilical were tied to the respective offshore segments at the landfall point and inside the onshore terminal on the other end. The onshore terrain for installation offered its own set of challenges which were overcome by engaging agencies which had prior experience in the field. The pipelines post installation were successfully tested and pre-commissioned to the client’s satisfaction.

The Vashishta & S1 field development project adds another dimension to the Make in India program, combining McDermott’s global expertise with LTHE’s manufacturing capabilities – ensuring that the bulk of the project execution took place in India.

Like the intended goal of the project which aims at ensuring greater energy security for the country, LTHE’s bolstering of its deepwater capabilities equips India in terms of local capabilities. Oil & Gas firms no longer need to look westward to explore the natural energy resources hidden deep in our seas. LTHE has it covered!

Oct 05
HE Innovates! Implements Unique Nozzle Welding System
HE Innovates! Implements Unique Nozzle Welding System
The idea of automating a tedious manual welding process may not sound terribly exciting to most ears, but to the folks over at L&T Heavy Engineering the possibility of it must sound like music. Passionate about automation, a crack team of highly skilled engineers assembled from different pockets of the division recently managed to pull off something quite remarkable. It successfully perfected an automated high sagita nozzle welding system that is not only revolutionising the way expensive and resource intensive welding jobs are carried out in HE shops but also making the entire process look cool and futuristic along the way.
For L&T Heavy Engineering which manufactures a variety of custom designed equipment for process industries, Heat Exchangers are something that it makes plenty of. These heat exchangers have nozzles welded to cylindrical shells. Since these equipment work under extremely high-pressures, weld quality is critical and defines the safety of operation as well as determining the service life of the equipment.
Typically, nozzles with low sagita (sagita is the distance between the top most point in an arc and the centre of its base) offers almost flat position for welding and can be mechanized with high deposition Submerged Arc Welding (SAW) process. However, high sagita nozzles, where the angle of sagita is greater than 7.5 degrees, the welding position changes significantly along the profile of nozzle which makes automation a challenge.
Close to 80% of the heat exchangers manufactured at HE shops, the nozzles fall under the high sagita angle category and were welded manually until recently. Lack of automation would mean everything from a greater cycle time to lower productivity, lack of desired welding quality and re-work. Another challenge which plagued the work on the shopfloor was the shortage of experienced and highly skilled welders to complete such jobs. Moreover, safety and comfort were a concern, since the operation was performed by welders seated in a confined space inside the shells which were preheated for welding. In light of all these issues, the need to automate the high sagita nozzle welding jobs had become increasingly urgent.
For the team, the trick was how it can make the position flat and keep it so throughout the profile of nozzle in order to mechanise this process? The team came up with a creative solution; oscillate the shell such that welding location is always in the flat position. Voila!
Solving the problem on paper however was one thing, doing it on the shopfloor quite another. The team designed a manipulator with a rotary positioner which oscillated the shell and a linear slide that moved the welding torch front and back to track the profile of nozzle. A rotary torch axis ensured that the torch is always parallel to the groove.
The beauty of this concept is that the constant surface speed of welding is achieved through the combination of two movements, one is the rotation of the shell and the other is the linear movement of torch. A Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) ensured the constant synchronisation. As for the operator, he can simply sit outside and control the operation using a vision system offering him a look into the welding process.
The team also had to change the Weld Edge Preparation (WEP) from the axial WEP which is parallel to the axis of the nozzle to a radial WEP to keep the weld opening constantly accessible to the SAW torch despite shell oscillation. Further a mechanised gas cutting station for shell cut-out with new WEP was put in place as part of the new process.
When compared with the old, manual way of high sagita nozzle welding process, the quality achieved through the new automated process is considerably better and has resulted in a number of advantages for Heavy Engineering.
What makes the entire process truly unique and praiseworthy is the fact that there is no readymade or off-the-shelf system available in the market and HE’s competitors continues to perform the task manually. All the development for what is highly robust and customised system was done completely in-house, right from concept-to-finish.
The system does not require expert welders and can be performed by anyone after a day’s training. Deskilled operation means resource flexibility and not having to worry about production getting affected on account of unavailability of trained or expert welders.
Since going live, the system has helped HE team weld over 25 nozzles, none of which had to go for any re-work or repair.  Typically, in the manual process there was 6-8% repair. There has also been a significant improvement reported in the delivery cycle time which has been cut down by 30% for nozzle welding which in turn has cut down the product/equipment cycle time by 2.5%. In terms of hours saved cost per nozzle, man-hours has come down to 75 hours from the earlier 150 hours during manual process. Besides from a welder deployment standpoint, the same has been halved from two to one welder.
All these benefits post automation have meant that HE saves an estimated Rs. 97 thousand per nozzle and more importantly gets better quality of weld post mechanisation. Ergonomics of the operation has improved with vision system.
For overcoming a challenge that had long hindered shopfloor productivity TD Vaidyalingam and his team members Pravin Koli, Manohar Salvi, Deepak Poojary, Sachin Kadam, Ankit Sharma, Amit Mokashi, Abhijit Nevase, Vishal Chinta, Sumukh Save, Vishvajeet Joshi, and Rahul George have received plenty of praise and recognition from their colleagues at HE not just in Powai but from other locations as well. The team now hopes to spread the word and is helping teams at other HE locations replicate the success.
Oct 03
Hyderabad Metro Goes Green! Implements Solar Power Plant on Station Rooftops
Hyderabad Metro Goes Green!
Implements Solar Power Plant on Station Rooftops
Businesses  talk about going “green” all the time but very few ever get around to doing much about it. Reason? It takes a lot of legwork and ingenuity to acquire a more organic way of life. For L&T and its constituent businesses acquiring a greener posture has always meant finding more sustainable ways of conducting business. And yes, without compromising on profitability.

A case in point is L&T Metro Rail (Hyderabad) Limited or LTMRHL’s  solar initiative under which it has been implementing captive solar power plant on station rooftops and depots. The project currently underway in full steam is not only expected to increase the sustainability quotient of the metro project by reducing its dependence on grid power and lower its overall carbon footprint but also result in substantial monetary savings for LTMRHL.

A special purpose vehicle of L&T, LTMRHL is one of the country’s most anticipated metro rail projects. A study in project management excellence and execution at L&T, the project is now in its final stretch before completion.

Typically metro systems are power intensive enterprises and estimates suggest that roughly 40% of the total cost of running a metro is spent on power expenses. In case of Hyderabad Metro this power is to be delivered by Telangana State DISCOM, an entity which depends largely on Thermal Power generators. Besides the possibility of incurring considerably higher charges – power tariffs are fairly steep in the state – the arrangement stood to increase the carbon footprint of the metro system significantly after it would become fully operational.

Another thing which concerned project  officials is their high dependency on the grid and the fact that there was no backup power source which they could rely on. High costs, complete dependency on a single source and grid’s potential negative impact on its sustainability quotient, were enough to encourage LTMRHL to examine alternative power sources that would not only be cheaper but greener as well. After much deliberation it was felt that solar power was a suitable alternative worth looking into.

An internal team conducted further research to identify spaces in the station premises for implementing solar plants and recommended that station rooftops and depots be used since they were ideally suited for the exercise.

Not wanting to add to its CAPEX, LTMRHL assigned the solar project to a third party on a BOOT (Build-Own-Operate-Transfer) model after a tender followed by a reverse e-auction. Under the terms of the contract agreement it worked out capacities of 8 MW and 7 MW on depots and station rooftops respectively amounting to 15 MW of power. A minimum power generation guarantee was also worked into the contract – something that is unheard of in the industry – from the vendor for 25 years.

The solar power plant initiative of LTMRHL isn’t the first one in the country. The Delhi Metro Rail project has already implemented a similar project. What makes the Hyderabad Metro project unique is the fact that the implementation works of solar plant precedes the revenue operations of metro rail, which reduces the complexity of work and implementation time considerably. Once the metro system goes live, deploying such a project would have been incredibly difficult given the very small window for implementation work. Another thing which makes the project unique is that the entire work was awarded as a single package with staggered roll out resulting in competitive tariff from the vendor. LTMRHL is set to get power at Rs.4.9/kWh flat for the next 25 years resulting in NPV savings of Rs. 98 crores over the duration of the contract.

The project has also lowered Hyderabad Metro’s high dependence on state grid for power requirement by 21% by supplying 15 MW out of the total requirement of 70 MW. Not only that but by installing the power source within the premises, the project stands to save on any kind of transmission losses and wheeling charges and offer greater control over the generation source.

But perhaps the most important of all the benefits to accrue is the reduction in carbon emission by 16,000 tons annually making the metro rail project stand out as an example of sustainability and green business initiatives.

A four member team from LTMRHL comprising Kumar Vibhash, Uday Kiran Batlanki, K Kalyan Kumar Reddy and M Santosh Raviraj continues to work tirelessly to ensure that the project reaches its intended objectives.  The team believes that the project has a great potential for horizontal deployment in future metro projects due to come up soon in other parts of the country.

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