Stork Technical Services, the leading global provider of knowledge-based asset integrity management services for the oil and gas, chemical and power sectors, has won the Innovation accolade at the OCA (Offshore Contractors Association) Challenge Awards for its industry-first hot bolt clamp technology.

The Challenge Award for Innovation 2012 honours those who have contributed to business success through innovative practices, products or industry initiatives. Stork was presented with the award by Fergus Ewing MSP, Minister for Energy, Enterprise and Tourism, on 25 October at the 18th OCA Annual Dinner, held at The Marcliffe Hotel and Spa at Pitfodels in Aberdeen, UK.

Bill Murray, Chief Executive for OCA, said, "We received a wide range of entries for this award, proving once again that our members are constantly seeking improvements in safety, productivity and sustainability. The award was given to Stork because their clamping system eliminates a number of long standing issues involving bolt replacement, system integrity and safety of maintenance personnel while also making a major contribution to platform uptime and cost efficiency."

Stork’s onsite machining and bolting team, led by general manager Pete Sheves, developed the technology in direct response to safety concerns raised by operators relating to instances of uncontrolled pressure releases due to stud failures, and future potential releases due to severe stud corrosion. The innovative system enables the safe removal and replacement of corroded bolts on live flanged connections that have eight bolts or less, with no disruption to ongoing production. This removes the activity from planned or unplanned shutdown programmes thereby reducing downtime / shutdown, the ancillary services required (e.g. nitrogen purging) and the associated demands for additional bed space to cover the shutdown activities.

The technology allows an operator to eliminate an identified threat of pressurised release almost instantly and improves the safety for offshore operatives and the asset as a whole by reducing the likelihood of hydrocarbon releases which can have a devastating impact offshore. To date, in excess of 1,200 four-bolt flanged connections have been reworked with a 100% success rate while fitting new studs to the relevant pipeline specification.

Erik-Jan Bijvank, SVP – UK and Africa for Stork Technical Services, said, "Winning this award is a major achievement for Stork and we are delighted that the industry has recognised our commitment to innovations. It is testament to the hard work and determination of our onsite machining & bolting team to bring a product to market that not only improves the safety of operations but also delivers significant bottom-line benefits for our customers."

Fraser Coull, Operations Support director for Stork Technical Services, said, "Achieving the highest safety standards remains the key priority for operators, however, we are increasingly being asked to simultaneously develop new ways to improve the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of our operations. The HBC system is truly unique and delivers on all these fronts. We have already established an excellent track record and I am confident that we will see significant uptake of the technology across our UKCS and international operations in the 2012 and beyond."