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Balmoral constructs world-leading facilities in Aberdeen

Tuesday, 26 April 2016 12:30

Balmoral Offshore Engineering, the Aberdeen-based provider of deepwater buoyancy, insulation and elastomer products, is constructing a new manufacturing facility, research and development laboratories and an industry-leading hydrostatic test centre at its Group HQ in Aberdeen.

Since January 2016 a new building has been taking shape that covers the area of more than six tennis courts and rises to an impressive 18m in height. Not only that but Balmoral has been blasting through Aberdeen’s famed granite sub-strata to accommodate new underground pressure test vessels.

The new facility trebles Balmoral's previous capacity for bespoke hyperbaric testing enhancing the services available to external customers from a range of sectors. Fraser Milne, engineering and projects director at Balmoral, is in charge of the project and has been telling us about the new subsea test centre:


Editor: What will the new test facility bring to the industry?

Fraser Milne: The Balmoral Subsea Test Centre offers a comprehensive range of procedures including hydrostatic, mechanical and laboratory trials. The facility provides the industry with a fully

comprehensive resource for buoyancy, insulation and polyurethane product testing – from concept through development and deployment.

New and upgraded vessels and procedures are in place offering independent testing for all types of subsea equipment to depths of 10,000msw, 32,808ftsw, equivalent. All our vessels are underground meaning that access is at ground level making handling much easier and safer.

Bespoke software has been written to allow full test traceability and real time observing from anywhere in the world. This level of monitoring is a first for the industry and informs clients whether or not current testing is successful. This capability also means that the vessels are put to optimal use by reducing downtime.

Our standard hydrostatic tests include:

  • Uplift determination
  • Water ingress
  • Instrumented buoyancy loss
  • Hydrostatic compression and creep
  • Hydrostatic collapse
  • Bulk modulus
  • Buckle arrestment performance

The pressure test vessels use air driven liquid pumps and can accommodate electric, hydraulic and instrumentation connections. Each vessel can be fitted with chart recorders, pressure and temperature data loggers that provide highly detailed results for analysis.

In terms of mechanical testing the multi-purpose load rig performs the following test-types:

  • Axial and lateral slip loads to 60 tonne
  • Static loading and 3-point bend to 100 tonne
  • Bend restrictor/stiffener load to 10 tonne
  • Bend restrictor locking radius measurement under load
  • Compression and shear testing on companion cylinders to 200 tonne and tensile testing to 150 tonne
  • Dropped weight and swing arm impact testing
  • Lifting point/insert load testing


Ed: In your opinion, what makes it the most comprehensive test centre in the world?

FM: The new test centre is impressive by any standards. It is housed adjacent to our R&D laboratories and covers some 800m2 with a working height of 12m. An overhead crane is capable of lifting 40 tonnes while the centre has been fitted out with state of the art remote vessel monitoring and control equipment.

The new facility will house 14 vessels when fully operational and offer a lifting capacity of 40 tonnes with vessels operating to various pressures with a maximum of 10,000psi, 700bar.

We also installed a 9m diameter x 4.5m deep, 286,000 litre, 63,000 gallon, test tank to undertake large scale displacement testing.


Ed: What is the largest pressure vessel you have and what is the greatest water depth you can test to?

FM: The largest vessel we have is encased deep in the ground and measures some 10m long by 2.5m diameter – we had to blast through 13m of solid granite to install this colossal structure. The vessel is designed to accommodate drill riser buoyancy modules and other large pieces of equipment and can test to pressures of 6,890psi, 475bar, the equivalent of 4,750msw, 15,584ftsw. Our smaller vessels can test up to 10,000psi, 700bar.


Ed: What types of equipment can the new centre accommodate?

FM: We test everything from massive drill riser buoyancy modules and ROVs to tiny pieces of subsea equipment such as valves, controls, etc. Equipment can be trialled continuously to suit project requirements.

So, it could be in-house testing of buoyancy or elastomer products or it could be unusual materials from half way around the world. The equipment we have is unique in its application and we carry out work across many sectors for a range of clients.

Notes to editor

Balmoral Offshore Engineering is part of Balmoral Group Holdings Ltd, a privately owned company based in Aberdeen, Scotland. Employing over 600 people Balmoral has been providing solutions to the energy, engineering, marine, building, polymer engineering and processing sectors since 1980.

Press contact

Steve Gibb
Public Relations Manager
Balmoral Park, Loirston, Aberdeen AB12 3GY
+44 (0)1224 859000

Balmoral Group

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