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Alcoa and Cameron team up to develop lightweight drilling risers

Alcoa and Cameron team up  to develop lightweight drilling risers
GLOBAL giant Alcoa has signed a development agreement with Cameron to commercialise aluminium drilling riser systems for offshore oil&gas exploration and development.

GLOBAL giant Alcoa has signed a development agreement with Cameron to commercialise aluminium drilling riser systems for offshore oil&gas exploration and development.

Alcoa said at the end of last month that the two companies were marrying their expertise to collaborate on research and development projects with the intent of broadening the market for aluminium drilling riser systems.

It claimed that the lightweight risers would extend the capability of existing drilling vessels, allowing exploration in depths of 20% or more versus conventional steel risers.

Welded aluminium risers weigh nearly 40% less than steel risers and apparently therefore require up to 40% less buoyancy material for similar depths.

This weight saving equates to cost savings because aluminium risers are easier and less expensive to transport, store and deploy.

“The aluminium drilling riser system is an innovation that could significantly change deepwater oil&gas drilling,” said Mary Zappone, president of Alcoa Oil & Gas. This partnership with Cameron, one of the most accomplished leaders in drilling and production systems, validates the lightweight aluminium riser system as a viable product.”

Responding, Harold Conway, president of Cameron Drilling Systems said that, by developing aluminium riser systems, it would be able to provide the lightest drilling equipment in the industry.

Just days earlier, Alcoa said it had agreed to purchase Noble Corporation’s intellectual property pertaining to welded aluminium risers, so opening the door for Alcoa to form this co-operative partnership with Cameron.

Drilling contractor Noble already designs and deploys welded aluminium riser systems using Alcoa’s advanced extrusions and forgings, including the same highly engineered alloys used by the aerospace industry. Advances in metallurgy and joining technology have made aluminium risers more durable and corrosion-resistant, and it is this quality that Alcoa and Cameron believe they can capitalise on.

Aluminium risers offer several advantages for deepwater drilling.

In addition to the welded aluminium risers, Alcoa is also developing aluminium solutions capable of reducing the weight of a conventional drillship, platform or other structure, allowing the oil&gas industry to reach reserves previously thought economically unviable.

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