Additive Manufactured Lightweight Gates (AM Gates)
This technology focuses on using additive manufacturing (AM) to produce valve gates. AM gates provide a number of key benefits, namely reduced component weight, reduced manufacturing lead time and creating a digital inventory of spares. This technology is particularly well suited to applications in XT valves on depleted wells, where the Tubing Head Pressure (THP) is too low to effectively seat the valve gate. This results in leaking valves on depleted wells requiring the operator to shut in wells. The AM manufactured gate is designed with internal lattice features to significantly reduce the final weight of the part, increasing the ability to seal in low pressure applications.
The UKCS and a multitude of operators have brownfield assets that while still viable producers, have reduced THP. The OGA Wells Insight Report (2018) reported of the 600 wells shut in, 42% are related to Well Integrity issues.
Successful deployment of this technology could realise a reduction of 65% (£275,000) in CAPEX costs by avoiding the requirement to replace Xmas trees and changing out component of the gate valves. With the average cost to replace defective Xmas trees estimated to be in the region of £425k, by eliminating the need to replace the Xmas tree and the associated loss of production from the well it is estimated that the value impact to an each well will be in the region of £1.54M. With an anticipated overall cost saving to the UKCS of circa £103.7M.
AM can provide an “on demand” and local supply of obsolete or long lead time valve components, which vastly reduces down time. Although AM gates could be used in subsea xmas tree gate valves in future too, it is most likely this AM application will be most applicable and useful to topside xmas trees.
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