Is Wellhead Design Set for a Revolution - World Oil Magazine

Published in World Oil Magazine

April 2014

Ben van Bilderbeek believes the friction-grip technology developed by his UK-based company Plexus Ocean Systems is a major step forward in wellhead design which can reduce the potential for blowouts, such as that which sparked the Macondo well disaster in 2010. Mr.van Bilderbeek tells World Oil how he is progressing on in his quest to convince the rest of the oil industry that Plexus has a solution that it needs to adopt, particularly for high-pressure, high-temperature (HPHT) conditions.

World Oil; Where did the idea for your POS-GRIP technology come from?

Ben van Bilderbeek: I tripped over a very simple concept of engaging two pieces of tubing by clamping them together. It was based on a system in use for a long time called Ringfeder that is used to attach gears or aircraft and ship propellers to a shaft by putting a flange around the overlap and tightening it with bolts to create a friction grip. I turned that around and realized we could make a wellhead out of that concept.

So we used this existing principle, applied it to oil and gas field applications, and obtained a robust patent. Now we are the North Sea market leader in the surface exploration wellhead market. I believe we have the technology of necessity for HPHT wells for all applications.

WO: Where is it used at the moment in subsea environments?

van Bilderbeek: We chose to introduce the technology in a small sector of the market – jack-up exploration drilling - because the technology is only used temporarily. The wellhead leaves the location at the end of the drilling program, so it lends itself to renting. If you are a company without very deep pockets, like us, then renting is a very efficient way of doing things. Otherwise, you need to become a manufacturer and make the equipment to sell, which means you have to invest in machine tools and everything else.

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