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This is the third and final part of this series. Part 1 and Part 2 can be read here.
After much playing the game (collecting hints of final selection), I was in Stavanger and it was suggested we to get to London the following day as P&W seemed to be prevailing. In that meeting with Mathew-Hall and Mobil there were only two of us, myself and Len Green. The question was “Where is your legal team?” Our response was that we did not require one. This was real surprise as P&W brought a huge delegation of legal council. Needless to say, the negotiations proceeded smoothly to the delight of the Mobil team and the rest is history. A long time later, discussions with Ivan Rice (GT Consultant) revealed the extent of rivalries within the consortium.
C-W Power Systems agreed to satisfy most participating countries with equipment and construction work assigned, where possible, to USA, Norway, UK, and Holland. This was accomplished by requiring additional logistics and overall project management. The work was completed and the Platform Modules were delivered on large barges and towed to the Statfjord platform to be hoisted by a huge sea-going, self-propelled crane named ‘Sea Troll’ operating out of Stavanger, Norway.
The Sep Post Script
C-W was not successful with the next phase of the Statfjord North Sea development. We pioneered the way with innovation and creativity which others benefited from and copied. BRUSH became a major supplier of generators for the LM2500 series of gas turbines and the subsequent upgrades with increased ratings. That is a most pleasant memory and contribution of the 70’s as well as the many friends made at BRUSH.”
Now back to my part of the saga. Septimus told me that he had been to the top of the three very high legs before the top deck was in place. He was elevated there by a rack and pinion open frame cage and at the top all that was around the each leg was some wooden tomato crates to keep him from falling over board. This must have been eerie and scary for him. He also told me that he was on the finished platform to inspect the 6 LM2500 units. He flew to Statfjord A on a helicopter from Stavanger and had to wear protective suit in case of a forced down to help protect him from the icy cold waters. Sep followed the whole job from inception, to bidding, to design. to fabricating, to assembly, to testing and to the installation on the platform. He deserves a lot of credit for all the hard work he did in pioneering a game changing new way to power the large platforms. What a success Statfjord A has been.
Post Order Engineering
After the two orders for the GE LM2500 packages were placed on Curtiss-Wright there remained a large number of details that required engineering attention. I continued as Mobil's gas turbine consultant to take care of many of these item for a period of time until the first of October of 1976. At times I was not needed and could stay home in Spring, Texas with my family and carry forward other consulting work for other companies which I did. However, the main need of my services involved the selection of the gas turbines and packages. I also helped get the gas turbines on Beryl A ready to run and spent 10 days on and off the platform supervising the final installation details until October 18.
After the orders were placed there were several things that needed attention right away such as the inlet air ducting, the air filtration system, the couplings, the controls, the design of the enclosures so that the gas turbines could be easily and quickly remove to mention a few. All of the Curtiss-Wright drawings had to be carefully reviewed and closely checked. On September 16 I wrote a 3 page letter at Mobil's request outlining 27 rotating equipment items remaining to be monitored and supervised. I still have a copy of this letter in my files.
I wanted Mobil to incorporate a fourth stage of inlet air filtration to better protect the LM2500 units. This proved to be costly and it took a lot of effort to get Mobil to finally order this extra filtration. Bob Bolfing of Mobil Houston and I even visited the US Navy testing facilities in Philadelphia to get their input to use. We were able to read restricted reports through Gene Weinert but not copy them. The US Navy helped us a lot with the LM2500s. We were determined to make the LM 2500s a success.
There was one area where I spent a reasonable amount of time and that was in regard to the engineering details needed after Statoil, through Mathew Hall, ordered 3 Kongsberg 1500 KW small auxiliary gas turbine generator sets for the platform. About 4 to 5 MW of power was needed before there was any wells drilled and when the drilling took place and there was no fuel gas or crude to pump I had recommended ordering three 2500 KW 501K Allison generator sets, but was over ruled by Statoil because they wanted as much Norwegian content as possible. The 3 units ordered were too small and without any off shore experience. After the order was placed I was asked to follow up on many details by working directly the Jan Movil, President of the Norwegian Kongsberg company.
I had already placed on order 3 Allison units through Mathew Hall and Jim Struthers of Allison and this order had to be canceled. The Kongsberg units proved to be too small and unreliable when placed in service which caused trouble when Mobil had to run one of the LM 2500s continuously at 4 MW as will be explained in the post script. There were many details to attend to on the Kongsberg units such as the inlet filtration, the duct work, the duel fuel capability, the controls, etc which was my job to sort out through Jon. Together we put the units in shape the best we could.
Mobil Oil told me not to make a fuss of this wrong decision because Stat Oil was still upset that the 6 LM2500s were ordered instead of the T P & M GG 4s. I was told by Bob that I got what I wanted with the GE LM2500 orders and not to up set the apple cart and not open up a can of worms. T P & M was still trying to reverse the LM 2500 order. There was nothing I could do but drop the issue. I was asked to witness the testing of 5 of the 6 LM2500 gas turbines at GE's plant in Evendale,Ohio which I did. All of the units passed with flying colors. I also made several trips to the Curtiss Wright plant in Woodridge, New Jersey to handle details and communicate with the various Mobil and Mathew Hall engineers.
I worked hard for Mobil and Statoil and I got along very well with the ones I directly worked under. They treated me with respect and as a full time employee with all the privileges they had. They gave me a lot of authority which I exercised as needed from time to time. I became good friends with many of them and remained so for a number of years. I enjoyed working for all of them. Together, we made a great contribution for large platforms through the use of the LM2500. We opened up a new market for the BRUSH electric generator.
There are several items that are not necessarily part of the above story that might be of interest to the readers. I will mention some of them as follows:
BRUSH Generator Orders Statoil GE Aero Engine Fleet
544 LM2500 units and variants 5 LM1600 uinits
59 LM5000 units 123 LM2500, PGT25 and PGT 25+ units
698 LM 6000 units 10 LM6000 units
59 LMS 100 units ____
1360 Total 138 Total
Recently, GE announced that it has received 10 more orders for the LMS 100s, 5 at the 100 MW rating and 5 at the new plus 118 MW output, to back up the growing southwest US solar and wind power, all to be equipped with BRUSH generators. The above list for the BRUSH generator orders shows that GE aero continues to use the BRUSH generators for their generator packages. Engineer Jim Prochaska of Houston GE Power and Water recently told me that the BRUSH generator design, with the modern endframe bearing mounting, fits their packages better than the GE design, is competitively priced, and that BRUSH gives them very good engineering support, on time delivery, installation support and after market back up and that GE Power and Water- Aero is well pleased doing business with BRUSH.
5 . When the LM2500s were first placed in service one unit had to be run at about 20 % load continuously to supply power for the drilling part of the platform. The small 1500 KW Kongsberg units were too small and not reliable. Under this light load condition the first stage compressor bladed developed a problem. These blades had dampening struts about 2/3rds of the way out that locked together at about 70 % speed, but at lower speeds the surfaces would rub and excessive wear took place. GE had to replaced these blades with struts having much harder surfaces to withstand the rub. This correction was costly to both GE and Mobil. The LM2500s ran fine otherwise.