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Torque tool makes a splash in offshore gas project

27 February 2007

As the first offshore gas field where all the production stations lie on the sea bed, the newly opened Langeled pipeline, bringing gas to the UK from the Norwegian Ormen Lange gas field in the North Sea, was a massive engineering challenge. The fasteners that secure the sections of pipe together had to be tightened to a precise torque setting using a calibrated instrument.

Remotely operated vehicles provide the only practical means of carrying out the required torquing operations. The challenge was to find a tool capable of generating a large torque to the required degree of accuracy, but which was also capable of being carried by an ROV. The solution, developed by Norbar Torque Tools and its Norwegian distributor Verktøy AS Industri, was a specially built version of the Norbar HT14 torque multiplier, manufactured from aluminium rather than steel.

The bespoke design weighed-in comfortably below the required payload limit, but nobody was really sure whether the aluminium construction would prove sufficiently resilient for arduous duties in such a hostile environment. However, factory acceptance tests showed that the HT14 was actually far more durable than anticipated. The aluminium-bodied HT14 entered service in 2005 and played a key role in the construction of the 1,200km pipeline.

The success of Verktøy’s customised Norbar torque multiplier has generated significant interest from the oil and gas industry. The companies are currently collaborating to develop a version with built-in torque transducers in the gearbox to give a real time readout of applied torque.

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