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Air of confidence

Published:  15 October, 2014

ODEE spoke with Barry Craig, project manager at ScanTech Offshore, and Mark Ball, well test support engineer at the company, about what they regard as the best specifications and service & support offerings to look for when sourcing air compressors for use in well test zones.

Well testing is a common procedure within the oil and gas sector. The process involves bringing reservoir fluids to the surface within a controlled environment to establish the likely properties, pressure, temperature and any impurities within a well. The dangers of well testing are widely acknowledged; however ScanTech Offshore is a long-established equipment and services provider within the field whose sole purpose is to heighten safety and efficiency during the well flowing process.

ScanTech Offshore supplies products and services to support and protect offshore installations during well test operations worldwide. One of the most important types of equipment supplied by ScanTech Offshore is its range of high-volume air compressors. Air compressors are a critical component within the equipment armoury needed to run an offshore well test. The main functions of the compressors are to provide the accelerant and atomisation of the crude oil in the well test company’s burner. “Put simply, compressors assist to provide a clean burn,” said Barry Craig, project manager at ScanTech Offshore.

Small footprint

This is the main reason why ScanTech Offshore came up with for the design of its 1600cfm DNV 2.7-2, which offers all the output of a larger air compressor, but in a substantially smaller footprint. “This small footprint frees up a considerable amount of space that would otherwise be occupied by large compressor housings,” said Craig, who added that the compressors are also stackable, which means even more space can be saved on the platform.

ScanTech Offshore is also looking to supply to the smaller air compressor market. “These will be approximately an eighth of the size of our current range,” explained Craig. Ball added that ScanTech Offshore has received many requests for the supply of instrument air for unmanned platforms. “Many of these platforms don’t have instrument air at the moment, so in the near future we are looking to supply small Zone 2 compressors of between 50 and 100cfm,” he pointed out. “We work closely with large well test firms such as Schlumberger, Expro and Halliburton. Looking to supply smaller compressors fits within our remit as a supplier to these companies.”


The mission-critical nature of air compressors for use in the well testing environment on offshore platforms naturally demands a diligent maintenance and service regime. With this in mind, Mark Ball, well test support engineer at ScanTech Offshore, explained that ScanTech Offshore can provide personnel that are always present onsite during the compressors’ operation. “This is important to ensure maximum uptime and the best possible efficiency and reliability from the compressors,” he said, adding: “It’s all about ensuring the greatest possible level of competence on this type of machinery.”


While the presence of maintenance personnel is important, Ball added that ScanTech Offshore can also supply a standby compressor as an additional resource. “By having this additional compressor ready for operation, users can be rest assured that if one compressor goes down the standby model can take over and continue to supply the correct volume of air,” he said.

Ball also pointed out that the additional compressor unit can allow maintenance staff to rotate the use of the compressor in order that preventive on-site or online maintenance can be carried out. “After all, no matter how old the compressors are, if they are in frequent or constant use it is important that they are regularly maintained. Equipment downtime is of course a lot less attractive than taking time to check the units. As a general rule, the compressors should be fully checked and serviced after 250 hours of operation.”


The continuing growth of ScanTech Offshore’s service portfolio enables it to provide both compressor and rig cooling services as a single package. In terms of cooling the engines, the oil and the compressed air, Ball explained that ScanTech Offshore has the option of using seawater. “There are of course other methods of cooling, such as fresh water and air,” explained Ball. “However, we consider that seawater cooling is more efficient and convenient. For example, the units are a lot quieter using seawater coolant rather than having a fan. Seawater is also a renewable resource and environmentally friendly.”


In terms of compliance, Craig explained that all ScanTech Offshore’s air compressors are manufactured to the latest specifications. “Everything is designed and assembled to DNV2.7-2,” he pointed out. “Therefore, all our compressors are fully North Sea/EU compliant.”

Ancillary equipment

In terms of ancillary equipment, ScanTech Offshore supplies a range of equipment as standard to accompany the sale and supply of an air compressor for well-test support. These include users everything from steam generators, heat suppression systems, fire-fighting equipment, cooling packages and safety systems, to diverter manifolds, safety fittings and hoses. Ball explained that ScanTech Offshore also offers a hose package that connects all the air compressors to what the company refers to as a well test manifold. “This is a large accumulator with a pressure relief valve, which allows the air flow to be diverted to either burner boom” he said, adding that it can also easily facilitate safety checks and to ensure the correct required air output is being delivered.

Safety and quality

ScanTech Offshore always makes a conscious effort to reach and surpass client standards. Part of its effort to ensure it offers the highest quality service is to stay up to date with all the industry regulations, standards and accreditations. “We place heavy emphasis on health and safety, quality and environmental policy and putting those policies into practice,” said Craig. “As part of our commitment to our clients and dedication to ensuring that our products and services are fit for their intended purposes, we are continuously promoting improvement of the quality of goods and services we provide, combined with maintaining a healthy and safe work environment.”

ScanTech Offshore’s Integrated Management System (IMS) and safe working practices have earned the company DNV accreditations ISO 18001:2007 (health and safety), 9001:2008 (quality) and 14001:2004 (environmental). Det Norske Veritas (DNV) is an independent foundation with the purpose of safeguarding life, property and the environment.

Client relationship

Reflecting on the company’s relationship with its customers, Craig concluded: “We invest time in understanding our customers' requirements in order to tailor the best possible solutions to their existing and future needs. In doing so, we draw on our extensive experience, innovative skills and commercial best practice within the well test support market sector.”

ScanTech Offshore has offices in the UK, Angola, Australia, Brazil, the Middle East and Malaysia.

ScanTech Offshore air compressor benefits

ScanTech Offshore offers a large fleet of modern rigsafe and Zone II air compressors specifically designed for well testing applications, on and offshore. Engineered to operate in the most extreme temperatures, the air compressors offer a number of benefits, including:

• Improvement in safety levels for operating personnel.

• Increased reliability due to 100% containerisation.

• High performance output in small footprint.

• Increased rig deck space.

• Zone II specifications.

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