Oil & Gas: a sector in transition

Published on 25 February 2022

Faced with the challenges of the decarbonisation of the global energy system, the oil & gas sector is undergoing profound changes. In this context, SPIE Oil & Gas Services is reinventing itself to offer new services and position itself as a trusted partner in supporting its customers to move towards a more responsible industry and in transitioning to renewable energy sources.

Oil & Gas sector in transition SPIE Oil & Gas Services' vacuum truck

In a changing world, the ability to adapt is critical. SPIE Oil & Gas Services, at the heart of an industry in transition, is constantly exploring new avenues to meet evolving needs. One of these is to help its clients exploit fossil fuels in the cleanest possible way: “Fossil fuels still represent a significant share of the global energy mix, but its carbon footprint can be reduced”, explains Christophe Bernhart, SPIE Oil & Gas Services managing director. “For example, through innovations to limit the fuel gas consumption. But also to actively participate in projects aiming to reduce flaring of gas by capturing it to reuse in other sites or transforming it into electricity for local networks.” SPIE is also increasing its activity in natural gas, which significantly emits less CO2 than coal or oil to produce electricity.  

In parallel, SPIE Oil & Gas Services is extending its expertise into new areas of renewable energy generation – biogas, hydrogen, geothermal, offshore wind power – for example, it is currently participating in the installation of a major offshore windfarm off the coast of Normandy in France. “Our objective is to support our customers in preparing the energy of the future, bringing our skills from the ‘old’ world to the new world,” says Christophe Bernhart. 

SPIE Oil & Gas Services is also diversifying its activities in a multitude of other ways, finding innovative methods to reduce customers’ environmental impact. In initiatives around the world, SPIE teams are dismantling and recycling a pilot facility in Qatar, using vacuum trucks to avoid hydrocarbon pollution in Gabon, and preventing leaks in oil pipelines in Nigeria. These are projects that exemplify how SPIE is a key partner in the shared goal of the green transition.

Hose Torquing and leak testing
Hose torquing and leak testing in Nigeria.
Stéphane Borel
Stéphane Borel, head of tendering, Europe/North Africa, SPIE Oil & Gas Services

Contributing to the energy transition

Installation of an offshore windfarm off the French coast

Selected by a consortium involving Bouygues Travaux Publics, Saipem and Boskalis in a new project for the end customer Eoliennes Offshore des Hautes Falaises, a project company (shareholders EDF Renouvelables, Enbridge and Wpd Offshore), SPIE  is contributing to the installation of a major windfarm off the coast of Fécamp, Normandy in northern France. “SPIE Oil & Gas Services and SPIE Industrie & Tertiaire - Industrie division are working together to equip each of the foundations of the 71 turbines with electrical and data distribution systems, interior and exterior lighting, CCTV and fire detection systems, as well as radars and dedicated systems for detecting bird and bat activity,” explains Stéphane Borel. This electrical and instrumentation work will be carried out at the pre-assembly site in Le Havre.

The 55m-high foundations, will then be transported offshore  and installed in the sea 13 km from the coast over a surface area of 60 km2. From 2023, the windfarm will supply more than 770,000 people with green energy. “This contract shows our capacity to support our customers in their new energy activities, thanks to our expertise in dealing  with offshore marine constraints. We are proud to be contributing to the first windfarm in the region to be connected to the French  electricity network.” A total of three SPIE branches will be involved in this project, with SPIE Oil & Gas Services responsible  for project management, Industrie & Tertiaire for installation, and SPIE Thépault, which specialises in very high voltage projects, for the connection of the underground electrical lines for RTE. A convincing demonstration of how SPIE can win new markets that will be a valuable reference in positioning the Group for similar projects in the future. 

Marie-Louise Lambert
Marie-Louise Lambert, environment site manager, SPIE Oil & Gas Services

Preventing contamination

Using vacuum trucks to prevent hydrocarbon pollution

At a major oil terminal in Gabon, since 2018 SPIE Oil & Gas Services has had a contract to flush out production lines and clean tanks and basins. As part of this process, a specialised SPIE team uses a sewer cleaner truck (or vacuum truck) which can quickly suck up any pollution. For example, stagnant rainwater contaminated with oil that collects at the top of storage tanks is sucked into a recovery cellar, and then pumped out and transported to a settling basin to decant. The oil that floats to the surface is aspirated by the vacuum truck and transported to be reinjected back into the production process.

“Hydrocarbons are harmful to the environment, so removing oil from the basins prevents it from getting into the water and soil, minimising adverse effects on human health and biodiversity. It also avoids the cost of having to remediate contaminated sites. Plus it optimises value for the customer as the oil does not have to be incinerated or disposed of, but is instead recaptured and reused,” explains Marie-Louise Lambert.   

All material on site has been recycled or disposed of so that the land is not contaminated after dismantling.
All material on site has been recycled or disposed of so that the land is not contaminated after dismantling.
Mark Notoma, Process and Pipelines Services product line manager, SPIE Oil & Gas Services

Creating new product lines

Offering customers end-to-end process and pipe-line services 

In line with the diversification of SPIE Oil & Gas Services activities, a new dedicated product line was launched in 2020: Process and Pipelines Services. Pioneered in Nigeria and Ghana, this new business will be extended globally and addresses all phases of the oil & gas asset lifecycle, from pre-commissioning to hook-up, operation to maintenance and decommissioning. “SPIE can now offer its oil customers a full range of process topsides & pipeline integrity and cleaning services for new or existing assets, minimising health and safety risks, reducing downtime, saving costs and reducing the risk of spills,” says Mark Notoma.

One of its contracts is servicing the Erha terminal, 97 km off the coast of Nigeria, an offshore Floating Production, Storage and Offloading (FPSO) unit - a floating vessel used to store crude oil. To ensure the equipment is failsafe, SPIE Oil & Gas Services is currently performing torquing, leak testing and replacing 300 meters of export pipeline. “All leaks from bolted joints are avoidable. Preventing leaks in the first place is much more cost effective than repairing leaks and, of course, avoids pollution, which is a key objective for us.”

Samara Waheed
Samara Waheed, operations engineer, SPIE Oil & Gas Services

Recycling and sustainable land management

Dismantling a pilot facility  at the end of its life

In 2020, SPIE Oil & Gas Services was commissioned by Mitsubishi Corporation - QSTP Branch to dismantle a pilot site for recycling seawater discharge for Qatar Petroleum’s Common Seawater Facility. “Due to its location in a sensitive habitat next to an inland sea, the main stakeholders wanted to remove the site to restore the natural ecosystem to its original state and encourage local species.” SPIE was chosen for its experience in working alongside companies to recycle high-risk materials with respect to stringent health, safety and environmental regulations. “Working closely with recycling companies, the assets on the site were dismantled, broken into smaller pieces and segregated by material.The hazardous substances were separated  from non-hazardous and transported to disposal or recycling sites.The dual objective was to recycle the maximum quantity of material to promote circular economy and to support sustainable land management”, explains Samara Waheed.