Setting Standards - European Oil and Gas

Published in European Oil and Gas

September 2014

Profile: Plexus Group

Founded on innovation and the POS-GRIP® friction grip method of engineering, Plexus Holdings plc is known for challenging the wellhead market through the delivery of ground-breaking equipment that significantly enhances safety and minimises cost. Admitted to trade on the London Stock Exchange AIM market in the final quarter of 2005, the Aberdeen based operating subsidiary Plexus Ocean Systems Ltd has developed an impressive customer base both in the vibrant North Sea and globally with its exploration jack-up rental wellhead systems.

First patented in 1997, the POS-GRIP wellhead system was designed, developed and commercialised by founder and CEO Ben van Bilderbeek, an accomplished engineer with more than 42 years industry expertise; it has since been used on more than 350 wells worldwide and has become an industry leading solution in surface wellhead design. Safer, more reliable and cost-effective than conventional wellhead equipment, POS-GRIP proprietary technology was originally used as an adjustable rental wellhead system for standard pressure jack-up exploration drilling. Subsequent technological developments led to Plexus supplying specialised high pressure and high temperature (‘HPHT’) wellhead systems to the market; a product that has proven vital to the oil and gas industry, where HPHT drilling conditions demand the best and safest technology, which has become particularly relevant after a number of high profile incidents in the field, such as the 2010 blowout in the Gulf of Mexico.

The advantages of the POS-GRIP wellhead design include enhanced safety such as avoiding the need to lift the blow out preventer to terminate casing, virtual elimination of movement between the seal parts, larger metal-to-metal seal contact areas, fewer components and much greater corrosion resistance. In addition, the technology is easier to manufacture, has a reduced installation cost, and increased and long-term integrity. 

As the need and demand for enhanced solutions and technology continues to grow, Plexus was invited by the industry post the Gulf of Mexico incident to take its technology from the surface to subsea, and to design and develop a new subsea wellhead which could address and solve shortcomings of conventional subsea wellheads subsequently identified as contributing factors to the incident.

In response to this request, and committed to changing global drilling standards, Plexus launched a joint industry project (‘JIP’) in collaboration with a number of major oil and gas operators for the development and commercialisation of a new, safer subsea wellhead (‘HGSS’) through the utilisation of Plexus’ POS-GRIP technology. Key planned features of the HGSS wellhead include an 18 ¾-inch full-bore system, rated to 15,000 psi and 350 degrees Fahrenheit, upgradeable to 20,000 psi and 450 degrees Fahrenheit; four million pounds of instant casing hanger lockdown capacity, annulus monitoring and bleed-off capability, which enables it to address sustained casing pressure, with diagnostic and remedial capability as well as the ability to open and reseal the casing to enable remedial cement jobs. The integration of such features and capabilities will be a first in the industry; furthermore, the monitoring of casing annuli capability is currently not considered feasible due to a number of technical and cost reasons.

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