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Fabricating new market opportunity

08 April 2012

Forgemasters’ welding capabilities are helping to create new markets by expanding its portfolio to fabricate large components for the burgeoning offshore oil and gas sector.

The company, which has an unparalleled track record in the manufacture of large structural castings for offshore oil and gas platforms, has expanded its services to weld these castings into rolled steel sections, creating fabricated components which make final assembly easier for its customers.

Forgemasters recognised that the specialist welding skills required to successfully join the different elements of cast steel and steel plate are seen as a potential hurdle by some contractors, so the Brightside Lane business is now undertaking this complex work.

Paul Mockford, design director at Forgemasters’ dedicated offshore division, Vulcan SFM, said: “Our cast components form structural elements within larger offshore constructions.  Although the steel grade we use has been specifically developed to provide good weldability properties, it is different from the steel plate grades which form the bulk of the structure.

“Many contractors do not have experience of welding to castings and do not have the weld qualifications in place for this type of work. By carrying out this work and leaving the contractor with only plate to plate welding we remove what may be seen as a further complication from their workload.

“We can see that this type of work offers real benefits to the customer and also generates a new market for our skilled welding teams.”

Vulcan SFM recently completed the fabrication of cast steel pad-eyes into large tubular sections made of rolled steel-plate for its client, Offshore Group Newcastle (OGN).The tubular sections form part of the leg of a North Sea platform which will be lifted into place using the cast pad-eyes.

The components were then dispatched to a fabrication yard in Tyneside where the platform is being assembled.

Assembly of the pieces took place in Forgemasters’ foundry.  Prior to carrying out the work a wooden model was created to determine the best method of manipulating the 27 tonne castings into 5.9m long, 2.2m diameter sections of tubular steel in order to fit and weld them together.

Paul added: “We have a track record of welding castings to structural steel, including pile pad-eyes for the Malaysian markets for example, which secured a floating platform to the sea-bed and welding lengths of pipe to cast wye-pieces for use in sub-sea pipelines.

“What we are now doing with assemblies like the OGN project is to take that fabrication process to another level of complexity.

“There is definitely a market demand for this activity as the offshore market gets increasingly busy and as we work with fabrication yards which don’t have previous experience of welding to castings.”

The platform being built by OGN will finally see service in the Forties oil field, the largest field in the North Sea, for the oil company Apache.