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Vol. 14, No. 38 Week of September 20, 2009
Providing coverage of Alaska and northern Canada's oil and gas industry

Arctic Directory: With innovative technology, Canadian Mat excels in reducing environmental impact and reduces footprint

Canadian Mat forms a close working relationship to bring new products to its customers

Q. Tell us about your company, its primary business sector and services?

A. I founded Canadian Mat Systems Inc. with Kelly Sparrow to help diversify the existing structural steel manufacturing company and expand support to Alberta’s large oil and gas market. After looking into the market, we felt the developing mat industry was a good fit with our manufacturing infrastructure and allowed room for innovation. The C-Lock Interlock Mat System was developed and patented and achieved quick success in the field. Always looking to be innovative, CMSI contracted the Alberta Research Council to assist in vetting synthetic materials to address the shortcomings of conventional matting products. Today CMSI is a leading manufacturer of temporary structural foundation panels, commonly called “Mats.” These panels are used to support operational activity in areas of low-weight-bearing soil conditions. Initially designed to facilitate access and operations, the use of mats has lead to the reduction of environmental footprints from activity which has become a key driver for CMSI’s new product development. The result of a strong R&D program, Canadian Mat has a range of patented products, from conventional steel and wood Rig Mats to a variety of composite iterations, the C-Lock Interlocking Mat System, and its newest product, the first fully suspended Fiber Reinforced Polymer Composite Raised Drill Platform.

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Q. What is your company’s primary strength?

A. Our goal at CMSI is to provide superior temporary foundation solutions that meet demanding structural and environmental challenges.

Q What field challenges has Canadian Mat observed that led it to begin looking for new solutions and how did it overcome these challenges?

A. We found conventional mat products had limited capacities, were not standardized and carried high transportation costs due to heavy weight. Conventional mat products with wood components were also prone to absorb water, rot and experience a shorter lifespan. Composite material offered a solution to overcome these challenges. We met Composite Advantage in Dayton, Ohio and quickly developed a working relationship that resulted in the introduction of our composite Rigg Mats line. A bigger idea was born when we visited their manufacturing facility and saw their new integrated, prefabricated composite bridge superstructure system, called Drop-N-Place. In the oil and gas industry there has long been a need for an elevated platform that could reduce the environmental footprint in fragile ecosystems. We collaborated with CA to modify their bridge technology and develop the industry’s first Fiber Reinforced Polymer Raised Drill Platform. RDP offers oil and gas companies the capability to suspend an entire drilling operation above ground and eliminate impact to fragile ecosystems. The fiber composite RDP product is stronger than conventional materials yet so light-weight the panels can be lifted by helicopter. Easy to transport to remote areas, the RDP’s composite construction allows the platform to be supported by a surprisingly small number of pilings. As a result, trucks and other equipment never touch the ground, and the environmental surface is left in its original condition. RDP is re-usable, corrosion resistant and offers high capacity. The RDP also reduces reclamation costs and is not limited to seasons.

 

Q. What were the first steps in the process to jointly develop this raised drilling platform?

A. We collaborated with CA to create a working surface that had a minimal environmental impact to the drilling area and yet was practical in the sense of being able to transport and assemble the platform on-sight in remote locations around the world. The concept for RDP originated from the concept of the FRP superstructure bridges that CA was fabricating. We felt if it worked in bridge applications, why couldn’t it work as a raised drilling surface. During a visit to Alaska to meet with customers, we identified the challenges being faced by remote drilling operations where from an environmental and logistics perspective the use of matting or conventional pad designs would be difficult or impossible. Other challenges included the ability to maintain integrity through the changing seasons and broad temperature changes in Alaska, while remaining committed to maintaining the highest environmental management practices. We felt that using CA composite bridge panels to form a foundation for creating an elevated drill rig pad could deliver advantages, from minimal impact to the environment, high capacities, long life and re-usability, to light-weight and economical installation and removal.

Q. What technology or knowledge and expertise did Canadian Mat provide?

A. As an established supplier to this industry, our knowledge of the equipment and processes that are used on the surface of the platform was an integral part of the design of the platform. We have special expertise in the design and manufacture of solutions for the challenges that face drilling operations in areas with environmental sensitivity, low-weight-bearing soils, seasonal restraints and remote operations. We also provide the installation and field service for RDP.

Q. Who are the end users for this composite raised drilling platform?

A. Typical end users will be individuals who need to create a working surface with minimal environmental impact — companies that conduct oil exploration in remote areas around the world and are concerned with the environmental footprint they leave. Current inquiries are from oil and gas companies. The industry has had to go further afield in recent times to find hydrocarbons. The low-hung fruit has been picked (anything close to significant infrastructure, roadways and pipelines to get the product to market), and now access to new product is much more remote and appropriately subject to more stringent environmental impact guidelines.

Q. What will the benefits be to end users for this composite raised drilling platform?

A. We’ve mentioned some of the key benefits such as RDP’s ability to reduce the environmental footprint and eliminate seasonal constraints and costs associated with environmental reclamation. We’ve talked about RDP’s light weight, reusability and high capacity. In addition, the RDP has been built to HS20 vehicle specifications, a US bridge design code governing bridge capacity, and can accommodate rigs up to 1.5 million pounds. Corrosion and chemical resistant, RDP is built with modular FRP panels on a steel substructure providing a durable work surface for oil and gas exploration. As operators determine the specific drilling location on the platform, the appropriate panel can be quickly removed to create an opening for the drill operation. The RDP offers containment from oil spillage in the event of an accident. The product’s light weight, 20 pounds per square foot, allows the platform to be shipped to locations at a minimal cost. The modular FRP panels are also easily moved from site to site. A cross slope provides water runoff in heavy rain. A railing system around the platform’s perimeter ensures personnel safety, yet permits sections to be moved for easy snow removal. RDP panels are static-dissipative to eliminate the buildup of electrical charges. Different levels of flame retardant are available. RDP panels are unaffected by freeze-thaw cycles or high moisture areas like swamps, bogs or muskegs where water absorption could cause rot in conventional material. The need for maintenance or repair is minimal. The composite RDP also delivers a life span of up to 40 years.

Q Does your company maintain a Web site?

A. http://www.matsystems.ca/

 



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