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VN engineers prove they can stand alone

Update: August, 14/2012 - 17:32

 

Tower of steel: Hai Thach central processing platform, the biggest of its kind in Viet Nam, proved that Vietnamese engineers are now to international standards in many areas. — VNS File Photos

Components

The Bien Dong 1 project consists of many components: Hai Thach central processing platform, Moc Tinh platform, Hai Thach 1 platform, approach viaduct, 70-km of pipes and 21km of underground cables. PTSC M&C is the main contractor of the $890m project, which used 60,000 tonnes of steel and other materials.The project required 11,000 design drawings for the supporting platform alone.

 
by Dong Ha

The 14,000-tonne Hai Thach central processing platform – the biggest of its kind in Viet Nam – left shore on June 27 in the southern province of Ba Ria-Vung Tau. It will be erected at Moc Tinh field, one of Viet Nam's deepest oil fields, where the water is up to 133m deep. The platform is part of the Bien Dong 1 project run by the Bien Dong Petroleum Operating Com-pany with the PTSC Mechan- ical and Construc-tion (PTSC M&C) Joint Stock Company as the main contractor.

The Bien Dong 1 is the country's first large offshore oil and gas project completely designed and operated by Vietnamese technicians and workers. The project marks a turning point in the engineering and manufacture of oil drilling platforms in the country, hinting at the industry's future potential.

Beneath the success of the landmark project lies a long story filled with countless difficulties. However, with strong determination and industriousness, young Vietnamese technicians finally gained success.

More than two years ago, when we received the project from the investor, we only had a spirit of determination and a sense of responsibility. We lacked many basic things, from infrastructure and machines to human resources and experience," said engineer Bui Hoang Diep, deputy director of PTSC M&C, who was in charge of the Bien Dong 1 Project.

At that time, even the relatively up-to-date infrastructure of PTSC M&C did not satisfy the requirements of the project, which required a foundation capable of bearing up to 50 tonnes per square metre. Besides, the contractor faced many basic difficulties while conducting the project, such as a lack of machinery, technical instruments and experienced technicians.

"Some foreign units which have built drilling platforms in Viet Nam cast a doubtful look at us. Some even said that we could not finish the project on schedule," Diep said.

After receiving the project, PTSC M&C spent billions of VND to build a foundation in only seven months. To make sure they did not fall behind, the project was conducted simultaneously. At peak time, 3,300 technicians and workers were utilised, in contrast to previous projects which only relied on about 500 people.

The biggest difficulty of the project was synchronising the stages, from designing and conducting to purchasing negotiations, because if one stage lagged behind schedule it would hold up those down the line.

"It became customary for builders to work additional shifts, while technicians had to work from 10 to 12 hours per day. I myself used to deal with 200 – even 400 issues per day during peak period. If there was a problem that my colleagues could not handle, I had to make a decision myself," Diep said.

The success of the project confirms that Vietnamese technicians and builders have great mechanical skills for manufacturing big drilling platforms. According to Diep, the Bien Dong 1 project is most noteworthy for successfully applying a manufacturing method that has been used widely in the world.

 

Doubt breaker: Top Vietnamese Engineer Bui Hoang Diep
 
"With the success of the project, Viet Nam oil and gas branches can confidently seek energy in deeper and farther waters," Diep confirmed.

Many new materials were used for the first time in Viet Nam during the implementation of the Bien Dong 1 project, such as Alloy 625 steel pipes, which can endure high pressure and erosion. However, as no worker had been trained to cut, sharpen and weld those new materials, technicians and workers of PTSC M&C had to study the method themselves. "But this is just a very small problem out of the many difficulties that we have overcome," Diep said.

Purchasing materials for the project also presented countless challenges, from choosing providers to finding materials that met the technical requirements, as many materials had never previously been used in Viet Nam.

While building the 16,500-tonne support, the technicians of PTSC M&C came up with an effective skidding method to increase the safety and progress of the project.

After the success of the Bien Dong 1 project, Diep confirmed that the team of technicians and workers at PTSC M&C matured significantly. Now they can design many details themselves. The skills of the welders have also increased dramatically. The rate of welds that had to be redone was only 0,3 per cent, well below the 2 per cent limit.

Diep's biggest concern now is that the high-tech engineering branch of Viet Nam still largely depends on foreign countries, and that the country lacks auxilliary engineering skills to make specialised valves or pressure pumps, which have to be imported.

"Bien Dong 1 was a real test of will, challenging both the technical skills and spirit of young Vietnamese technicians. I think that only after gaining a sense of responsibility could young people reach success. If we had refused the project, we certainly would not have gained the infrastructure, foundation and experience for future drilling platforms, and we would not have been able to test the skills of young Vietnamese technicians and workers," Diep said. — VNS

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