Blog: Can You Just Have a Look at This For Me?

Updated: Apr 21, 2020

Duncan Brown, Subsea Manager, London

We’ve heard that very often, haven’t we? A former client or contact who trusts you, asks for a quick and honest opinion to check or challenge his/her own thinking.

That is how it started for one of the most interesting and challenging projects that Crondall Energy have recently undertaken. The outcome was much greater than that initial check. Of course, that’s Consultancy for you.

In this case, what started as a quick check evolved into a subsea system Pre-FEED, a technical leadership role across the whole project facilities scope (subsea, offshore and onshore), delivering a comprehensive Concept Select Report with all the technical, commercial, economic, risk and HSE aspects required for the operator and stakeholders to pass through the Concept Select -> Define Stage Gate.

A small operator with a partially appraised offshore prospect in West Africa called us to check some assumptions they were carrying related to the HPHT nature of a pipeline system, prior to them entering Pre-FEED. This prospect had been subject to a few attempts at passing this stage gate, but with the fast-changing subsurface appraisal results, political landscape, associated downstream projects and global economy, getting the “stars to align” and pass through the gate hadn’t been possible to date. The project was in recycle mode.

By the time the project reached the Concept Select -> Define Stage Gate, successfully passed it and prepared to award the FEED contract, Crondall Energy had delivered:

  • System Flow Assurance and Operational Philosophy from wellhead to separator for production, and from compressor to wellhead for injection,

  • Comprehensive Pre-FEED design for subsea and onshore pipeline systems, including specification for HIPPS,

  • Supervision and critical review of Pre-FEED for offshore and onshore facilities,

  • Integration of the Pre-FEED studies into well-developed full-field concepts to meet a range of targeted outcomes,

  • AACE Class 3 CAPEX estimates, Level 3 Schedule Estimates and detailed OPEX estimates for each concept,

  • Risk Identification, Review and Ranking sessions with identified mitigation plans for the High and Medium level risks,

  • The PLANC register,

  • A comprehensive concept assessment process which identified CAPEX, OPEX, ABEX, schedule, technical complexity, HSE, Risk, etc for each concept,

  • A comprehensive and robust concept selection process, using collaborative input and weighted criteria – the process was applied to all concepts and the weightings tested for robustness via sensitivity checks,

  • Optimisation design of the preferred concept to incorporate new data since Pre-FEED,

  • Cost & Schedule Risk Analysis to enable the operator to choose the correct level of contingency,

  • A comprehensive Concept Select Report which was accepted by the Operator, Partners, Investors and Concessionaire as the basis for stage gate success,

  • Scope of Work and Basis of Design for FEED, which enabled the Operator to go out to tender.

We are very proud of our role on this project, we are particularly proud of the comment made by one of the operator’s team: “Crondall Energy is the oil which keep the wheels of this machine turning”.

It is sometimes hard to pin down the value of having a high-quality consultancy involved in such a fundamental way at the early stages of a project, especially when many of the decisions look easy to make at first glance. But, like most aspects of our industry, scratch below the surface and therein lies complexity.

I think the real value of a consultancy like Crondall Energy is knowing when to dive down into the detail, to resolve the complexity, identify and mitigate risks, and knowing when the intuitive decision is the one to go for. It would be easy, but conservative and expensive, to engineer out the details of every single potential decision at concept phase. Some operators do that, and in some circumstances, it is entirely correct. But in examples such as the one above, where the landscape changes quickly, the speed of reaction has to be quicker than the speed at which the assumptions change. And that’s where we can make a difference.

Since joining Crondall Energy nearly 2 years ago I’ve been trying to describe, using my own words, what makes us really effective. What are the company and personal qualities that work for clients like ours above?

I’ve distilled my thoughts into a few areas – perhaps you have experience of Crondall Energy in these and could comment?

  • Expertise – we have highly-qualified personnel with strong expertise in their discipline, and in many cases are the thought leaders and solvers of new and “out-of-spec” problems. Pipeline expansion / buckling and low-manning FPSOs are great examples.

  • Experience – we’ve been around…..some of us longer than others! We have experience of solving a wide range of challenging problems. We have engineering leaders who have solved problems and delivered solutions at a granular or molecular level, we have project managers who have delivered large EPC projects in challenging parts of the world. And everything in between. The experience means we understand the bigger picture too.

  • Agility – we are easy to deal with, flexible in our approach and proactive in seeking ways of working together – this applies equally to working with clients, collaborative partners and subcontractors.

  • Integrity – we will get it right, we won’t always tell you the answer you want to hear, we will ensure that you know all the issues and we will resolve them with you or for you. Of course, we will inform you in the nicest possible way.

These qualities are brought to bear on everything that we do, whether it be an engineering or project management challenge, a technology development or even running the business. Going back to our client’s quote “Crondall Energy is the oil which keep the wheels of this machine turning”, we can offer a drop of oil in just the right place or a full lubrication and cooling system.

That’s probably enough similes for now. As you are now facing the challenge of progressing a development, making your operations more efficient or trying to solve a problem, in a more complex world, why not ask us “Could you just have a look at this for me?”. The answer will be yes, and we will take it from there together.