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Plexus to Develop a New & Safer Subsea Wellhead

Source: 11/21/2011, Location: Europe

Plexus Holdings PLC, the AIM quoted oil and gas engineering services business and owner of the proprietary POS-GRIP method of wellhead engineering, announces world leading oil and gas companies Maersk Oil North Sea UK Ltd; Shell International Exploration and Production B.V.; Wintershall Noordzee B.V.; and the UK entity of the world's largest offshore drilling company, and oil and gas technology solution consultancy SafeKick Ltd have signed up as consulting partners to Plexus' Joint Industry Project ('JIP') to develop and commercialise a new and safer subsea wellhead utilising Plexus' patented POS-GRIP technology. In addition Plexus is in advanced discussions with three further international oil and gas operators regarding joining the JIP project, and expects to provide an update on this in due course.

- JIP initiated in October 2010 in response to oil and gas industry encouragement for Plexus to develop the application of its POS-GRIP surface and platform friction-grip wellhead technology subsea
- New 'HGSS' subsea wellhead will be designed to address key technical issues and requirements highlightedfollowing the Gulf of Mexico incident in April 2010
- Key industry members of the JIP will contribute to the design and engineering process for the new subsea wellhead - Plexus' intention is for relevant JIP partners to become end users of HGSS wellhead once fully built, tested and commercialised
- 18 – 24 month development programme - total project cost over a two year period estimated at £1.5m to £2m of which a substantial part will classify as R&D
- Recruiting a subsea development and engineering team for the JIP, located in a dedicated building in Aberdeen
- Intellectual property generated by the project will be owned by Plexus, adding to the extensive suite of IP associated with proprietary POS-GRIP technology.

Plexus' CEO Ben Van Bilderbeek said, "Today's announcement is a major vote of confidence for our JIP subsea wellhead project, and confirms the strong support and encouragement we continue to receive from key industry players to further develop our friction grip wellhead technology in areas beyond our organic jack-up exploration activities. I believe that there is a growing recognition by the industry of POS-GRIP technology, which reinforces the significant commercial potential in new application areas such as subsea.

"Recent well control incidents around the world have raised awareness surrounding the critical function of a wellhead in subsea oil and gas operations, and have also highlighted the need for a step change in safety and performance standards. I believe that the advantages of our non-rotational friction-grip connector methodology are material, and we look forward to utilising our extensive experience with high pressure and high temperature drilling operations around the world to take safer and superior operational features of a subsea wellhead to a new level.

"Moving into the subsea market represents an exciting growth opportunity for Plexus. It has been estimated that US$225bn will be spent in the period 2011-2015, and that 30% of all goods and services supplied to the subsea sector will come from the UK. The size of this global subsea market and the commercial opportunities associated with it are in marked contrast to the significantly smaller global jack-up rig exploration market, which up until now has been our main area of operation.

"I am confident that the HGSS Subsea Wellhead will ultimately prove to be a superior subsea wellhead option in the years to come, and we look forward to working closely with all our new partners, as well as welcoming additional JIP members to the project in due course, as we continue to develop the POS-GRIP HGSS Subsea Wellhead project".

Further Information
Key features that Plexus is looking to incorporate into its new POS-GRIP HGSS Subsea Wellhead design include:
- "18-3/4" full bore system, rated to 15,000 psi 350 deg F
- Upgradeable to 20,000 psi, 450 deg F
- 4,000,000 lbs 'instant' casing hanger lockdown capacity 4,000,000
- Avoidance of problems associated with use of lock down rings
- Annulus monitoring and bleed-off capability to address sustained casing pressure situations, with diagnostic and remedial capability
- Ability to open and reseal the casing annulus to enable remedial cement job procedures - Rigid metal annular seal technology qualified to match the standards for premium casing couplings
- Meeting the requirements of API 17D/ISO 13628-4, recently provided additional operator requirements, and Plexus 'life cycle' testing.

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