The complex process of locating gas deposits has been transformed dramatically in the last 20 years with the emergence of extremely advanced and innovative technologies. In the early days of the industry, the only way of locating underground deposits was to search for surface evidence of these formations. Even on dry land this practice was difficult as geologists were forced to look for seepages of oil or gas before they had any clue that there were deposits below. Take this effort to the floor of the ocean in water depths in excess of 1,600 meters and the difficulty factor increases exponentially. As the global demand for energy has dramatically increased over the past years, so has the necessity for more accurate methods of locating and assessing these deposits. Technology has allowed for a marked increase in the success rate of locating these gas reservoirs that are often thousands of feet below ground.
One of those advanced techniques is the ability to take a core sample from the ocean floor and raise it up for analysis. These core samples provide extremely valuable information in the on-going search for gas deposits but they are often extremely fragile, can be over one meter in length, weigh over a ton, and last only a matter of days before they will no longer give up their secrets.
A recent effort to drill and lift these fragile cores from the bottom of the Indian Ocean was just the beginning of the challenge. The lab designated to analyze the core samples was far from local. In fact, the samples had to be moved from the ocean floor to a lab 7500 kilometres away in under 5 days. The management of the monumental logistics effort of moving this specialized cargo from Tanzania to the United Kingdom was left to JasProjects.
Stuart Beange, Head of Projects at the UK branch of JasProjects explains just how critical this move was to his first tier exploration drilling client, “The samples give an indication of the size of the gas find in the specific well and indeed the gas reservoir. They have a limited shelf life from exiting the well to testing in the laboratory, hence the time limitation." The results of the tests are extremely important as they can assist in confirming the size of the find and help the drilling teams decide how the drilling operation should proceed. Beange adds, “The results of the samples can even affect the share price of the exploration company itself.
With this much at stake, it’s no wonder that the client turned to JasProjects. The ability to plan ahead and think “outside-the-box” when challenges arise are crucial skills for a project involving such long distances and narrow timeframes.
Adding to the complexity was that the operation took place during the East African rainy season. Beange noted that “this led to extremely poor road conditions for the haulage of fragile and shock monitored equipment on non-blacktop roads. The airfield in Tanzania was daylight operation only, with high temperatures and a short runway also affecting aircraft payload.”
Difficult operating conditions and extremely limited handling facilities are something the JasProjects team carefully accounts for in its planning. A process that also includes dealing with the various government and customs agencies in both Africa and Europe while remaining fully complaint at all times. Beange explains, “JasProjects had to source equipment for samples that were very fragile, we had shock readers fitted for the whole transit and ensured correct handling of cargo at all 3 transit airfields on route. We also arranged for immediate customs clearance and dispatch on arrival in Europe followed by permanent importation into the UK.” He added, “the operation required accurate planning within a tight timeframe not just because of the limited life span of the samples but also the client’s requirement that JasProjects personally escort the cargo door-to-door.”
This personalised “door-to-door” level of service is what sets JasProjects apart. Its ability to function at a high level from remote, forward operating areas to busy urban centres while dealing with the many cultural and operational differences encountered on route is a fundamental skill-set of the team. As the Drilling Logistics Manager for East Africa told us, “JasProjects did an excellent job, carried out in very difficult conditions, and at very short notice. JasProjects staff even slept with the cargo in the aircraft hold during transit to ensure the job was done correctly and our cargo was safe!”
That's the very definition of a "core competency"!
The route taken by the ocean floor core samples from Tanzania to the UK
For a play-by-play description of the project, read JasProjects - Rush Shipment Tanzania to UK