By Anand Kalimuthu, Engineering Manager, WOM USA
After the massive accident with BP’s Deepwater Horizon rig at the Macondo Well, there has been a push to increase regulations, standards, and mandatory inspections. The end user, usually a major oil company, must have a complete and thorough understanding of the regulations so they can operate the appropriate equipment. The major oil companies are trying to find suppliers who can provide the pressure control equipment certified at the higher standards. In my opinion, the industry is headed in the right direction, though manufacturers must design and build new products which comply with the stringent rules and regulations. What this means for WOM is that we have to gear up our product line to be compliant with the new standards. Now, purchasing equipment with the right certifications is more important than price under the new highly-regulated environment, especially in offshore drilling. Redundancy is one other factor in choosing equipment and so our Magnum Dual-Seal technology falls right in place.
We have seen an increase in the requests for gas testing of equipment and WOM has been successful in passing these critical tests.
For certain valves that WOM manufactures, regulatory agencies are now mandating an American Petroleum Institute standard called “API 6AV1 Specification for Verification Test of Wellhead Surface Safety Valves and Underwater Safety Valves for Offshore Service.” WOM must test and seek certification for our equipment under this standard, which involves a sand-slurry test. WOM does not have the specialized testing equipment for the 6AV1 so the valve is sent to a test lab. Fortunately for WOM, some of our valves are qualified under API 6AV1 due to testing performed in the past.
Lastly, third party inspection is now much more common. In total, this means a longer lead time and more cost for the end-user, though in return they have a higher level of confidence in the performance of the equipment.
A new effort we are making is in Research & Development. We now have an R&D department with dedicated personnel and equipment. Previously, the Engineering Department created designs in response to the needs of customers, then built the equipment, tested and shipped it. We have been fortunate to supply equipment without much R&D, however we don’t wish to be passive in front of the higher standards. Equipment will be designed and tested to qualify PR2, which includes number of pressure and temperature cycles. WOM’s R & D department will have a new environmental chamber early next year to carry out all the PR2, high and low temperature tests. Qualifying and certifying a wider range of products is a big undertaking and an important investment in WOM’s future.
WOM has grown through saying “yes” to the customers’ new requests and the challenges they bring in. Looking back at the last ten years, WOM’s growth has been and is skyrocketing. This is incredible growth, especially for a manufacturing company. I admire and look up to Mr. Puranik for his leadership during all of this. With his support we will strive to meet the new and stringent higher standards the industry demands.