A new collaboration between the Oil & Gas Innovation Centre (OGIC) and the High Value Manufacturing (HVM) Catapult will enable the oil and gas sector to access advanced capabilities that can drive down manufacturing costs and enhance the materials in use in industry.
Under the new agreement, OGIC will host a representative from HMV Catapult in its Aberdeen office to support engagement with the oil and gas industry and drive cross-industry collaboration and innovation.
The HVM Catapult is a network of seven major UK technology and innovation centres, three of which are co-operating to fund the new post to bring their know-how to the oil and gas sector. The three facilities involved are the Advanced Forming Research Centre (AFRC) based at Strathclyde University, the National Composites Centre (NCC) based in Bristol and the Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (NAMRC) based at the University of Sheffield.
The HVM Catapult is supported by UK government through Innovate UK and gives scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs access to a pool of expertise and experience within academia, research, industry and government and bridges the gap between early innovation and industrial-scale manufacturing, where real wealth is created.
OGIC provides a single access point to the knowledge and capabilities of Scottish universities for the oil and gas industry. It part-funds and provides management support to projects with the potential to deliver technology solutions to the exploration, production and decommissioning challenges facing the industry. OGIC effectively links more than 2,500 oil and gas operators and service companies to 450 academic staff and researchers in Scotland working in oil and gas related areas. Key aims for OGIC are to stimulate knowledge exchange and research activities and to provide an environment that supports the development of the next generation of business innovators, academics and entrepreneurs in Scotland.
AFRC has the most extensive suite of forming and forging R&D capabilities in the English speaking world, as well as unique capabilities that improve component resilience. The centre’s ability to measure, model and manage residual stress supports improvements in component life. This can allow more durable, longer lasting, products to be designed and manufactured. Understanding and managing residual stress can also help reduce costs as distortion during final manufacturing stages can be mitigated.
The NCC focuses on the development of products that are light, strong and extremely corrosion and fatigue resistant. It works closely with companies in all sectors and all sizes. It has, for instance, helped the UK maintain its position as the world’s second largest aerospace economy. Twenty-five years ago, composites were barely used in civil airliners but today more than half of the structural weight of the Airbus A350 and Boeing 787 is composite materials. These are more fuel efficient, more comfortable, have lower operating costs and meet some of the most stringent safety regulations of any industry.
The NAMRC focuses on large-scale, high-precision manufacturing challenges for the most demanding industries. It offers some of the largest and most advanced machining centres and welding facilities available for collaborative R&D anywhere in the world, including very large vertical turning/milling and horizontal boring, 5-axis machining, deep-hole drilling, electron beam welding, diode laser cladding, hot isotactic pressing, and large-volume metrology. These facilities have been specified to meet the machining, fabrication and assembly requirements of the civil nuclear sector, but can also address problems in large-scale manufacturing across the energy sector.
Ian Phillips, chief executive of OGIC, said: “Accessing the latest research and design capabilities within the fields of composites, forming and advanced manufacturing will provide the oil and gas industry with unrivalled opportunities to innovate and address the complex technical challenges it faces. It is essential that we collaborate more effectively and learn from other industries. This new partnership with three of the HVMC centres will support this agenda and help to accelerate the pace of innovation in the industry.”
Dick Elsy, Chief Executive of the HVM Catapult, said: “The High Value Manufacturing Catapult offers technology capabilities across all stages of manufacturing to companies across all manufacturing sectors. We have a productive engagement with the Oil and Gas industry, which is set to grow in scale and importance with our new presence in Aberdeen. As this is a sector which represents the highest capital expenditure in the UK economy and which faces some of the most interesting technology challenges, I am extremely excited about this recent development and I am convinced we will add real value to the industry in the months and years ahead.”
Archie Macpherson of AFRC said: “With our in-depth knowledge of materials behaviour and capabilities for demonstrating full scale manufacturing, we enable customers to develop, prove, and scale-up the next generation of products, processes and technologies. This helps companies accelerate innovation and drives structural integrity and service reliability benefits which are so critical within the oil and gas industry.”
Peter Chivers, Chief Executive of the NCC, said: “Our composites experience is now being applied to industry sectors including oil and gas with work underway to evaluate, in the first instance, the performance of flexible pipes as part of a much wider opportunity to use composites in a range of associated structures. Applying this expertise to the energy sector can support the attainment of its exploration and production goals in ever more challenging environments.”
Alan Mclelland of NAMRC said: “The HVM Catapult has an unrivalled breadth and depth of expertise and facilities to provide support into this vital manufacturing area in the UK. The Nuclear AMRC have already provided significant value for a wide range of Oil and Gas sector companies who share many of the key manufacturing requirements seen in nuclear. We are delighted to be working with our partner centres to bring the full scope of the Catapult to help underpin growth in what is the UK’s biggest industrial sector.”