MB Century

Finalist
2016
High Temperature Casing Condition Tool

MB Century’s high-temperature casing condition (HTCC) tool was developed to provide greater accuracy when monitoring the integrity of well casings in harsh geothermal environments.

The Taupo-based company says there was a gap in the market for down-hole tools, which are used to evaluate the carbon steel casing that lines wells. Should the casing deteriorate, an asset owner faces exposure to risks such as discharges of geothermal fluid, compromised production or the well deteriorating beyond repair.

MB Century values those risks at between $50 million and $500 million.

The HTCC tool can operate at temperatures in excess of 300 degrees Celsius and at pressures up to 350 bar. Sensors on 60 protruding ‘fingers’ can take 20 samples per second and deliver a 3D image of the casing which better allows engineers to visualise any problems. It can operate in casing diameters from six to 14 inches.

MB Century has developed and supplied high-temperature down-hole tools for the past 15 years. It also provides broader energy services to the geothermal and hydropower sectors.

It says the HTTC tool has increased the diversity of its services, while the project also tested its capability to handle large research and development projects.  The project has also upskilled the firm’s component suppliers, which will benefit future projects, while customers have also remarked on the pro-active nature of the work and the real economic benefits it will deliver in terms of risk mitigation.

MB Century says more than 400 specifications were identified across four disciplines – mechanical, electronics (comprising hardware and firmware), software and mechatronics.

Callaghan Innovation, the Product Development Management Association and the Institute of Professional Engineers helped the company identify research and development partners for the HTCC tool project.

This project team was responsible for matching suitable technologies to the design goal. A clear product requirements document, which detailed specific job ownership, helped address more than 300 technical challenges that arose and were resolved during the design and build phase.

For example, the drivetrain between the motor and data fingers was unable to overcome the load needed to close the fingers, showed interference between its components, and became damaged by spikes in voltage with changes in motor speed.

MB Century held “must resolve” meetings with the project team to ensure that critical path decisions were made to advance solutions. Solutions offered had to survive an approval process, which evaluated the problem against resource, schedule, budget and customer demand.

MB Century invested $2 million in the development of the HTCC tool, in-line with budget predictions. Another $400,000 was provided by Callaghan Innovation under two schemes.

The tool will be operated on a service-based business model, where the MB Century will bring it on-site, run it down-hole and report back to the well owner on the casing condition.

Although its primary target market is domestic, MB Century has assessed the international geothermal market at about $49 million a year, of which the company currently captures 8 per cent.

It expects to run the HTCC tool in South-East Asia by the fourth quarter of this year and estimates a growth in annual revenue that could reach $5 million over the next five years.

It has identified the Philippines, Indonesia, Mexico and Japan as potential markets for the new service. MB Century has also initiated discussions with oil and gas operators, where it hopes the tool will enter the market in collaboration with existing service providers.  

The Energy Technology of the Year award category is sponsored by Callaghan Innovation