The demand for offshore oil and gas resources has resulted in the need to drill to greater depths. Ever deeper wells result in the need for higher capacity compressors. The challenge has been industry’s assumption that greater capacity means greater size. Atlas Copco’s TwinAir compressor successfully captures the required capacity, together with a smaller footprint, for a bespoke offshore 12—or-25- bar workhorse.
“Rand-Air has seen an increasing demand for offshore compressors. We are thrilled that our parent company, Atlas Copco, has designed and built the TwinAir compressor from the ground up as a dedicated offshore unit. Although the TwinAir compressor is equally comfortable in onshore applications, it excels when it is required to perform duty on oil and gas rigs,” says Louwrens Erasmus, General Manager of Rand-Air.
“Space is at a premium on congested offshore rigs, so contractors constantly seek ways of reducing the footprint they need on the rigs. The TwinAir compressor comes up trumps as it provides the highest volume of compressed air per square metre,” says Byrone Thorne, Marketing Manager for Rand-Air.
Byrone points out that the closer the drilling teams come to the drilling location, the more expensive the associated costs become, with specialised equipment being the order of the day. Extensive research and development into the optimum design for a customised, high-performance offshore duty compressor resulted in the TwinAir compressor. In addition to its use for drilling, the compressors are also ideal for sandblasting operations and for operating pneumatic wrenches in offshore applications.
“A number of creative design elements merge to provide optimal safety, fuel efficiency and extended life span in a compact package. Atlas Copco has combined two CAT C13 engines, with a total output of 656 kW, into a robust CSC (Container Safety Convention) container. CSC certification means that the TwinAir unit can be transported easily and legally as a container cargo,” Byrone explains.
Due to the environment in which the TwinAir compressors will operate, safety was a primary consideration. “Stringent safety measures are required as one moves closer to the drilling area. While TwinAir compressors are required to meet specific regulations, Atlas Copco has gone a step further with the adaptation of the units to Zone 2 safety levels.
“One cannot use electronic ignitions on equipment sited on a rig. By applying an air start, spark arresters and flame suppression as standard features on the TwinAir compressors, DNV (Det Norske Veritas) certification is applicable,” says Louwrens.
DNV Maritime and Oil and Gas provides classification, verification, risk management and technical advisory services to the global maritime and oil and gas industries. DNV certification provides manufacturers with the required high levels of safety compliance for offshore applications. In addition, the TwinAir compressor is certified to ASME (American Society of Mechanical Engineers) as well as CE (Conformité Européenne) standards.
Byrone emphasises that the design of the TwinAir compressor focuses on ease of handling and maintenance, making it the ideal unit for use in the arduous conditions experienced on rigs. “All construction materials and coatings have been carefully selected to provide maximised lifespan through resistance to the environmental conditions experienced in offshore operations.”
The robust construction also allows easy access to the workings of the compressor for quick and trouble-free maintenance. An ergonomically designed built-in ladder system leading to the roof adheres to recognised safety practices. Other features include readily accessible external fuel connections and emergency stop buttons; and optimal positioning of the pressure regulators.
The incorporation of the Atlas Copco COSMOS Comprehensive Service and Maintenance System not only provides an indication of the exact location of a specific TwinAir unit, but also provides crucial information on when the unit requires servicing.
“We anticipate capturing a large portion of the rental market in the oil and gas exploration sites off the coastlines of Angola and Nigeria,” says Louwrens. “The introduction of the TwinAir compressor is in line with Atlas Copco’s vision to be an oil competent upstream application product supplier, and Rand-Air’s vision to become the market leader in compressor rental to this industry.