Louisiana’s LQT Delivers Oil Rig Housing To Sakhalin Russia

Posted: February 7, 2015 in Econ 101, Sanctions on Russia Meaningless, Technology and Energy

SOURCE: http://www.theadvertiser.com/story/money/business/2015/02/07/lqt-delivers-accommodations-project-russia-deepwater/23002899/

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LQT delivers accommodations project to Russia deepwater

The journey to comfortable living quarters for oil rig workers off Russia’s sub-Arctic deepwater fields started near the balmy coast of Louisiana.

LQT Industries constructed a 5,000-square-foot accommodation facility for 96 workers on a platform in deepwater east of Sakhalin Island, Russia, where weather conditions can be so cruel the island was once used as a prison colony. The facility was in place on a platform and leased by last summer, but LQT announced last week that the customer had already decided to purchase the facility.

“It was a pretty amazing project,” said Peter Reeves, LQT’s new construction manager at the company’s Abbeville facility. It was an effort so intricate that it involved importing international materials, designing for 44 degrees below zero, meeting GOST Russia standards and delivering and assembling the finished product almost 6,000 miles away. The facility includes living accommodations, changing rooms, laundry facilities and more. A company spokesman said the project cost “in the millions.”

LQT outbid four other companies for the contract, touting its aluminum construction, which makes the facility lighter, as well as its fitness for harsh weather.

Daniel Gaspard of Advanced Consultants in Abbeville, which did the project engineering, said the facility was different than others he’d designed before because of the harsh winters that visit Sakhalin. That meant securing materials suited for frigid weather and building transition areas in the facility to accommodate shifts in temperature, both outside and in.

“Every pipe, all duct work, had to be heat traced to keep it from freezing,” said Gaspard, who said aluminum provided the facility with many advantages, including the fact that it forms its own protective layer and doesn’t have to be painted.

“The client we built it for” — it was a “major consortium” that Reeves declined to name — said the facility was the first to gain Russian Federation certification. (Exxon has long drilled in the area, and has an office in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk.) Both the Russians and the U.S. company traveled to LQT’s Abbeville facility to meet with company officials. Contracts took about six to eight months to complete, and work began in 2013.

Using international products was expensive, Reeves said, but made sense because it made it easier to secure Russian Federation approval. In completing the facility in 2014, LQT assembled it, “powered it up,” ran water to the facility and tested it for two weeks. With all challenges met in Abbeville, LQT disassembled the facility — that took five weeks — transported it to Houston, and did preparation for transport both in Abbeville and in Houston.

It took six weeks to move the pieces to Russia. There was lots of work left to do. That’s where Thadd Meche and his colleagues stepped in.

Meche, of Loreauville, was LQT’s superintendent for the project and spent 87 days on Sakhalin Island or off its coast. This was his first overseas trip, and travel was arduous: from Lafayette to Houston, Houston to Los Angeles, Los Angeles to Seoul and Seoul to Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, the last city founded by convicts in 1882 and at 180,000 population the largest city on the island. Yuzhno has its amenities and strengths, including Sakhalin State University. But it rests a full 6,400 miles from Moscow, a greater distance than Meche and crew had traveled from Abbeville.

Meche’s LQT crew worked with local crews — some Russians, some Koreans — as well as with contract workers from the Philippines during the course of the project, which started in Yuzhno, continued to Kholmsk, a hillside town of about 30,000 in southwestern Sakhalin, back to Yuzhno, and eventually moved north to Nogliki, a rustic oil town of some 10,000 people.

Other LQT employees on the mission were Brian Goutierrez, Clinton Bertrand, Dustin Laviolette, John Guillory, Kenneth Ransonet and Stephen Robichaux.

Meche said Korean workers were helpful on the platform and that the Filipino workers were most impressive: friendly, competent and hard workers. “They were some of the nicest guys and hardest workers I’ve ever met,” he said.

The group had a single interpreter for their international crew, and Meche said much of the direction or management of local workers came in the form of hand signals and pointed fingers. When prep work was completed, the project moved by water to the platform, a few miles offshore.

Meche said seasons shifted while he was in Russia. On his arrival in July, temperatures were in the 80s. But as the trip wore on, they fell as low as the 20s. He said he brought plenty of warm clothing.

Reeves said the crew brought plenty of tools, as well, because it was difficult, maybe impossible, to replace tools and spare parts where the crew was working.

“We took everything but the kitchen sink there,” he said.

Meche said while the Sakhalin coastal towns were somewhat primitive and the platform remote, his worksites afforded him views of ocean creatures such as sea lions and killer whales. He said he would return to work there, if asked.

Reeves said the project lends great visibility for LQT in that part of the drilling world. He said there is potential for additional customers.

For now, though, he said, LQT is focusing on other international clients, including projects for Africa and plans to send crews to Venezuela.

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