||Technology in Australia 1788-1988
Table of Contents
I The Present Energy Economy
II Australian Energy Consumption
III Research And Development
V Oil And Natural Gas
i Background to discovery
ii Discovery in Bass Strait
iii North West Shelf
v Innovation and incidents
VI Solar Energy
VII Nuclear Energy
VIII Bagasse Firewood And Other Biomass
IX Electric Power Generation And Distribution electric Power Generation And Distribution
X Manufactured Gas
XI Industrial Process Heat
Innovation and incidentsIt will not be possible to describe the many challenges which had to be faced and overcome to bring the Bass Strait and North West Shelf projects to their present stage, in fact it is difficult sometimes to distinguish between innovative technology and changes which are made to designs and procedures when the unexpected occurs -but which are regarded as routine.
Two incidents which were well publicised at the time were the gas blow-out at the very first well drilled and the much more serious blow-out on 2 December 1968 while drilling the production wells in the Marlin field. In the latter incident, an unexpected surge of drilling mud occurred and despite all the measures taken by the drillers to control it, after about an hour mud began to break out from the sea bottom and within minutes the sea was boiling angrily. The most immediate fear was that the gas would ignite and cause a fire which would engulf the platform and then be extremely difficult to extinguish. Urgent radio consultations with Esso in Sale, Melbourne and Sydney followed and it was decided that it was a job for 'Red' Adair. He arrived from Houston within 48 hours.
After consultations with Esso executives it was decided that the blow-out could probably be staunched from the platform, using a huge amount of mud and associated equipment. This took until just before Christmas to assemble, when the weather deteriorated and 80 km per hour winds whipped up 3 metre seas. The weather finally cleared on New Year's Eve. At 8 pm the pumps were started and around midnight the Marlin 7 blowout was sealed.
Adair, about to return to Houston told reporters, 'To me, this was one of the biggest technical jobs we've ever had, in assembling so much equipment and getting it rigged in the short order of time that we did. We have so many people who deserve a lot of credit ... not just me.' It had cost Esso and BHP $5 million, but it saved the best gas field in the Strait. The following account of innovative technology may seem something of an anti-climax after these dramatic events but collectively they are really more significant in the long run.
The welders used, for the first time in Australia, a tungsten inert-gas process. The welds were then X-rayed and coated with epoxy resin for corrosion protection. Although Ocean Systems Inc. USA designed and commissioned the habitat, Eglo Engineering built it at Williamstown, Victoria and most of the equipment was manufactured or obtained in Australia.
Organisations in Australian Science at Work - Eglo Engineering; Esso
© 1988 Print Edition pages 800 - 801, Online Edition 2000
Published by Australian Science and Technology Heritage Centre, using the Web Academic Resource Publisher