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Plexus launches new Subsea wellhead

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Oilfield Technology,

Plexus Holdings PLC launches POS-GRIP® Python® Subsea wellhead

Plexus Holdings PLC, the AIM quoted oil and gas engineering services business and owner of the proprietary POS-GRIP friction-grip method of wellhead engineering, announces that it has launched the POS-GRIP Python Subsea Wellhead (Python) at a launch ceremony attended by Fergus Ewing, the Scottish Minister for business, energy and tourism at Europe’s biggest oil and gas trade show, ‘SPE Offshore Europe 2015’ in Aberdeen. The new Python Subsea Wellhead, which has been under development since 2011 within a joint industry project supported by companies including BG, Royal Dutch Shell, Wintershall, Maersk, TOTAL, Tullow Oil, eni, Senergy, and Oil States Industries Inc., has been launched to achieve a new best in class and safest standard for subsea wellheads, following the Gulf of Mexico incident in April 2010.

Innovative design

The Python Subsea wellhead has been engineered to be simple, and yet offering a range of unique and superior technologically advanced features with increased safety, reduced cost and operational efficiency capabilities. The patented POS-GRIP friction grip method of engineering offers ‘instant casing hanger lockdown’ and is used to secure hangers with 'HG' Seals which provide direct, metal to metal, weld quality, high integrity sealing. Many conventional components used in competing conventional subsea wellhead designs such as lock rings and wear bushings are eliminated, resulting in enhanced reliability and fewer installation trips.

The Python launch also coincides with the successful completion of the key performance verification tests for the system. Plexus have previously announced the completion of industry standard API 6A Annex F testing on Python, but can now announce that full system testing was also conducted to replicate real world field conditions and testing all of the components within the system working together which allowed the mapping of a safe 'performance envelope' rather than just single performance points for some of the components. Plexus tested the system at 'worst case tolerance stack-up' between the components, proving that the system works with any selection of individual components, which is something not yet considered in best industry standards or for conventional equipment.

The launch marks the first commercial availability of our POS-GRIP enabled subsea wellhead system, and Plexus is confident that Python will be ready for offshore deployment in a trial well during 2016.

The Scottish Minister for Business, Energy and Tourism Mr. Fergus Ewing said, “This new technology will allow oil and gas companies around the world to increase the safety and reliability of their operations and it is a great testament to the skills and knowledge of Ben Van Bilderbeek and his team that the partners in the Joint Industry Project have developed this new system under the leadership of Plexus.

“At a time when the industry is facing greater challenges, innovations that can improve reliability and safety while helping to reduce costs are very much to be welcomed. As one of the major players in the Scottish oil and gas sector, it is very encouraging to see Plexus continue to innovate and create revolutionary new products that will have an effect on the sector around the world. I wish Plexus every success with the new Python Wellhead System for the future.”

Plexus’ CEO Ben Van Bilderbeek said, “I want to thank the honourable Fergus Ewing, our Scottish Minister for Industry, for taking the time to help us introduce the first proprietary ‘Subsea Wellhead System’ designed and developed in Scotland. Today for me is the culmination of a career that started in Ventura California in 1971, 45 years ago, and now I stand at the cusp of my ambitions, which grew into a passion to deliver the ‘best and safest’ wellhead technology money can buy.

“Our ultimate goal, which now adds subsea wellheads to the ‘best in class’ jack-up drilling system we supply around the world, is really quite simple to articulate. For as long as oil and gas wells have been drilled, wellheads were allowed to be qualified to standard much below the quality expected from the well casing reaching deep into the ground. The weak ‘wellhead’ link, over time became the unavoidable norm, which we at Plexus were never comfortable with. The idea that the last connection in a well, in terms of qualification would be of a lesser standard than other connections in the system, seemed to defy logic!

“Following the Gulf of Mexico offshore incident in April 2010, Plexus was asked by a leading group of operators to focus on the challenges presented by deep-water subsea drilling, high pressure and high temperature environments and most importantly Arctic drilling operations, where delicate environmental conditions demand the best and safest solutions.

“I am therefore pleased to unveil the Python Subsea Wellhead system, which has been the results of almost four years of research, development and engineering.

“I am very proud to be part of the Plexus team, who put their trust in me as much as I have in them, because I can assure you that many have spoken of the folly of challenging convention, against the might of internationally renowned competitors.

“There is much more to come from Plexus in terms of product development, which we can now bring to a very much wider market, and importantly with the help of our new trading partner in Jereh of Yantai, from China.”

Adapted from a press release by Louise Mulhall

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