When a complex project’s deadline is tight, effective collaboration within an organization and with customers is key. But to deliver ahead of schedule requires a deeper partnership built on trust and seamless communication. That’s how Vallourec ensured product delivery – four months early – for OneSubsea®’s Bacalhau offshore drilling project.
Located 185 km off the Brazilian coast, the Bacalhau field is at a water depth of 2,050 m in the presalt Santos basin. The development includes 19 subsea wells tied back to one of the largest floating production, storage and offloading units (FPSO) in the country. Vallourec contracted with OneSubsea®, an SLB subsidiary, to deliver 3,000 m of upset riser joints equipped with VAM® Top Tension Riser (TTR) “Heavy Wall (HW-NA)” connections. It also worked closely with field operator Equinor to ensure smooth installation and product performance.
“Bacalhau is a challenging project,” says Malic Abdeddaïm, Global Project Manager International and Strategic Projects, who has managed the project since 2021. “First off, we had a tight time frame we had to work with: we needed to deliver a large quantity of pipes, while guaranteeing high quality and performance, in under a year. And these pipes have to withstand serious fatigue conditions and a corrosive sea environment. So, when you consider pipe safety and performance, thickness means strength.”
This type of pipe consists of ends that are actually thicker and stronger than the rest of the pipe, which is necessary for the threading process. Utilizing Vallourec’s unique production capabilities combined with its world-leading R&D facilities, the project team could deliver reliable pipes with upset ends – ahead of schedule. “We love a good challenge,” says Corentin Couvreur, R&D Design Project Manager. “It’s a testament to our skilled colleagues that we were able to rise to the occasion.”
Frederic Bernard, Director of Marketing and Development at Vallourec, agrees: "It’s gratifying to see how our team came together on this technically challenging project. R&D was able to qualify the connection in a record time. We’re really the only manufacturer in the world who could have accomplished this.”
Pipes after coating process
“As sturdy as our products are, we also had to demonstrate a strong approach to project management,” Malic says. “That was evident when we made our batch 1 delivery three weeks early in June 2022… and our batch 2 delivery at the exact same time, four months ahead of an October deadline! That pleased the customer, for sure... Employees from around the world really came together on this, and I’d cite the great camaraderie between us, OneSubsea® and Equinor too.”
Throughout the project, Vallourec was by OneSubsea®’s side, while also working directly with Equinor. Malic notes Vallourec’s culture of professional collaboration that makes it easier for its global teams to foster real partnerships.
“When your customer encourages you to meet directly with their customers it is all about trust,” Malic says. “Seamless project management means you are on the phone all the time and in the plane heading to be with the customer onsite. You’re working together to find the right resource to get the job done. Within Vallourec, this includes R&D, manufacturing and operations teams, but also our partners at OneSubsea® and Equinor. We were one team – the Bacalhau delivery team.”
Pipes out of the mill
When your customer encourages you to meet directly with their customers it is all about trustMalic Abdeddaïm Global Project Manager International and Strategic Projects
Pipes, connections and accessories installed onsite needed to undergo tough testing processes before they could be validated for use in the project. This included corrosive analysis testing by Vallourec’s Material Investigation department to ensure products would meet the environmental challenges addressed in NACE MR0175 for ISO 15156 certification. Specific fatigue and failure validation in the context of the Bacalhau field included the API RP 17G portion of the ISO 13628 standard and testing at 22,500 psi.
“Entering this testing environment as partners to our customers meant we were side-by-side problem solvers, seeking interdependent solutions,” Malic says. Through discussions with the customer, Malic offered other Vallourec services such as Tubular Management System (TMS) and VAM® Field Service (VFS) inspectors. OneSubsea® ultimately saw the value in these add-ons, and they were brought into the Bacalhau project scope.
The services proved instrumental, as OneSubsea® saw how Vallourec was able to help with things like storage, pipe management and traceability. In this way, Vallourec is sharing how it can open new frontiers with solutions for business. Pedro Filgueiras, Technical Sales, adds: “We’re looking forward to supporting OneSubsea® and Equinor in the successful use of our products over their lifetime."
Adds Laurent Dubedout, Vallourec Senior Vice President - Business Line OCTG, Accessories, Services Group & Eastern Hemisphere and Member of the Executive Committee: “We’re excited to have had the opportunity to showcase Vallourec’s truly unique riser capabilities and associated services, which we perform in close collaboration with our customers. We are definitely looking forward to developing this further with them and our partners."
The Bacalhau project proved such a success that the team was lauded with a Vallourec R&D Award. “R&D definitely played a crucial role, not only during the design stage, but also throughout the project, making adjustments based on shifting needs,” Malic says. “However, I’d say this should be seen more as a ‘Collaboration’ award. It was all about flexibility and how every Vallourec entity worked together, across geographies, functions and technologies to deliver what the customer needed.”
Pipes out of the mill
From the left to the right: Umberto Caruso, Julien Patou, Philippe Guillemot, Corentin Couvreur and Pierre-Louis Leblond