Du Pont's Maintenance Painting Service Lowers Costs On Offshore Platforms

After building a 12-year onshore success record, Du Pont has moved its cost-reducing Maintenance Painting Service (MPS) offshore to oil drilling and production platforms and other marine structures.

In the past two years, Du Pont's Offshore MPS (OMPS) has helped Conoco Oil's New Orleans Division cut maintenance painting costs by 25 percent at its Grand Isle offshore production platforms in the Gulf of Mexico. At the invitation of Du Point, Maritime Reporter and Engineering News recently visited several Conoco platforms to view the procedure and the results (photos).

Conoco officials credit the reduction to the systematic OMPS program, which combines tight management controls with flexible scheduling to cover contingencies such as weather and platform operating emergencies.

Working with Conoco's New Orleans Division, OMPS specialists prepared a program for painting 75 platforms in a 600-square-mile area to specific coverage standards at a guaranteed price that, according to Du Pont, turned out 15 percent below Conoco's lowest cost in the past 20 years. OMPS offshore operations manager Gene Ivey reports that 25 platforms were painted on schedule at a lower cost than estimated.

Du Pont will adjust the contract accordingly.

"Offshore painting is three to five times more expensive than onshore painting," Mr. Ivey said. "Weather and water conditions and operating emergencies can affect scheduling, and rigging is more complicated and time-consuming. Because labor is the most expensive component of a painting program, we kept costs down by using highly qualified, efficient painting contractors and by planning backup work in case of emergencies or weather problems," he said.

Du Pont built its MPS success on the combination of its ability to manage maintenance painting projects for quality within prescribed deadlines and budgets, and for its technological expertise in preparation and painting of production facilities.

In the past 18 years, Du Pont has saved as much as 60 percent in maintenance painting of its production facilities, which represent a capital investment of more than $10 billion. Du Pont began offering MPS to chemical and industrial production facilities 12 years ago, and its success prompted the company to look offshore for another outlet for the service.

"We felt that our expertise in controlling corrosion and in managing painting contracts would work offshore, and the Conoco program seems to confirm that," said Jack Jones, OMPS marketing manager.

"As the managing partner of the Grand Isle Project, Conoco had to consider the interests of other owners in getting the best performance at the lowest price," said E.L. Moffatt, division production superintendent.

"The entire program is geared to efficient planning and management.

We surveyed the corrosion levels and painting needs of all of our platforms with the OMPS people to match critical areas with production priorities and locations. This gave us primary areas and backup areas, which is something previous painting contractors didn't do. As a result, we are able to have something painted even if painters have been working in an area where a production emergency occurs. That's been a key factor in keeping our program on schedule and within budget," Mr. Moflfatt said.

Predictability, accountability, and protection are the cornerstones of OMPS. Du Pont assumes the responsibility for painting platforms and other marine structures at an agreed-upon level of protection and/or appearance for an extended period at a predetermined fee, subject only to change in labor rates and material costs. The annual price for the first five years will be at or below the price quoted by Du Pont before the program begins.

OMPS consists of preparations, finishing, and inspection. It includes all vessels, structural steel, walkways, piping, and all the surfaces constantly exposed to deterioration from weather, corrosion, and wear and tear. OMPS specialists devote full-time attention to planning, scheduling, supervision, monitoring, and follow-up. This regimen is necessary to keep a job on target.

Offshore painting can run $5 to $6 per square foot, sometimes going as high as $12 in hard-to-paint spots.

This is an average of three to five times higher that the cost of landbased painting programs, and most of the cost is labor-related, especially for rigging. OMPS is investigating a rigging method that involves rigging an entire platform leg at one time, which has great promise of reducing labor significantly, and a non-painting technique for protecting platform splash zones.

Along with technological advances, only safety-conscious, highly productive contractors are selected before work begins. In addition to being productive and reliable, contractors hired by OMPS must be able to furnish work crews capable of performing under difficult marine conditions.

Once work begins, OMPS managers hold periodic reviews with facility managers and technical personnel to stay current with their changing needs and to assess the program's progress relative to objective.

Additional Services Based on its offshore success, OMPS is extending its inspection and monitoring to integrate cathodic protection services with painting for complete structure protection.

With 15 years of cathodic protection experience, Du Pont will apply the same approach used for painting.

Specialists will survey and analyze existing cathodic protection systems and develop a planned retrofitting program for optimum continuous protection. Du Pont will design, engineer, and install all anodes and continuously monitor and inspect them.

With its expanded services, OMPS is preparing to extend the geographic range of its operations into the North Sea.

For a free 12-page color brochure on Du Pont's OMPS, Circle 65 on Reader Service Card

Maritime Reporter Magazine, page 32,  Dec 15, 1984

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