Case Study: Fiberglass Structures Stand the Test of Time Offshore

0524-SouthpassMainIn 1986, Strongwell constructed an all-fiberglass well bay deck for 18 wellheads on Shell’s Southpass 62A production platform located southeast of the Mississippi Delta in the Gulf of Mexico. The entire 20' x 40' fiberglass structure, which included grating, handrail, stairs, stair treads and superstructure, was fabricated of EXTREN® fiberglass structural shapes and special fiberglass grating.

Shortly after the first installation, a second, larger, fiberglass well bay platform fabricated of EXTREN® and DURADEK® fiberglass grating for 32 wellheads was installed on Southpass platform 62D.

0524-SouthpassDetailAlthough skeptical at first, the local work force now looks on the fiberglass as “user friendly.” “(Fiberglass grating) feels better to walk on,” said maintenance worker Donald Sandifer. “It is definitely easier to kneel on while doing work around the wellheads and you don’t get torn up if you fall on this stuff (compared to the serrated edge surface of steel grating).” The wider bearing bar of the fiberglass grating is less fatiguing on the legs, yet the non-skid surface provides better traction than steel.

“It has taken some licks,” said Sandifer, recalling the time a 30-foot stand of wireline lubricator pipe dropped on end from 10 feet without damaging the DURADEK® grating. Initially, fiberglass was selected to replace failed steel structures because of its lightweight and easy installation. It took two men five days to install a steel platform versus two days for fiberglass. Also, fiberglass is less expensive to transport and easier to handle. Fiberglass installation eliminated use of cutting torches and welding, saving downtime and the costs of shutting down well production.

Product: Fiberglass Well Bay Platform
Process: Pultrusion

  • EXTREN® Series 525 fiberglass reinforced polyester, fire retardant
  • DURADEK® I-6000 1-1/2" grating (currently DURAGRID®)
Sizes: EXTREN® structural shapes used:

  • 6-1/2" x 2" Rectangular tube
  • 6" x 6" x 1/4" Wide flange beam
  • 6" x 1-5/8" x 1/4" Channel
  • 2" x 1/4" Square tube (handrail)
User: Southpass 62A - Shell Oil Company

Fiberglass, unlike steel, will not sag and deform due to wear and abuse. After years of service, the DURADEK®/EXTREN® structures are still level and do not have dangerous dips or bumps (common to steel platforms) that cause trip hazards.

Corrosion resistant fiberglass structures are virtually maintenance free, thereby reducing the problems of offshore painting where blasted paint must be carefully recovered in an effort to not pollute the Gulf.

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