June 26, 2012, Accutek Engineering Team
By: Justin Riebesel, CWI
I was on a plane this weekend catching up on the latest issue of Welding Journal magazine. The article “Welding Supports Prudhoe Bay Oilfield Operations” caught my eye. I was pleasantly surprised to see it was authored by a friend and colleague, Bill LaPlante, a welding engineer at BP Exploration (Alaska), Inc.
Here’s what struck me most:
1. The tremendous cost of welding in a remote Arctic environment
Costs are compounded on every front. From recruiting and compensating skilled workers to providing them travel & lodging, everything is considerably higher than in the lower 48 states. With the extreme weather situations, shipping and maintaining welding equipment and consumables can also be quite costly.
2. The importance of planning
We take for granted the welding infrastructure, workforce, and supply chain that exists in the average city. Like Bill mentions in the article – one really needs to plan well in order to meet schedules (and more importantly, keep the oil flowing!) at Prudhoe Bay.
3. The broad scope of the welding engineer’s responsibilities at BP Exploration Alaska
Welding engineers’ responsibilities encompass many welding disciplines, including new fabrications, repair & maintenance, pressure vessels, piping, structures and heavy equipment. Especially challenging is understanding the extreme service environments and engineering considerations of the region, including low temperatures, corrosive service and difficult-to-weld materials. During a recent conversation with Bill, he stated “Because of the low temperatures, all PQR’s have CVN requirements at -50°F or lower.”
Welding in Alaska sounds like a fantastic new challenge that will add a few feathers to Bill’s cap – we wish him the best. What are some extreme conditions you’ve welded under?