It is almost too easy to miss the turn for Bad Bentheim on A-30, speeding through the beautiful countryside in Northwest Germany. But it’s there. For the undistracted, it leads to a short drive to the gentle Lower Saxony town nestled among the greenest trees. This is the last place you would expect to find an offshore oil rig. For anything seagoing, Bad Bentheim is about 150 kilometers from the nearest shore. Yet, this is where some of the world’s most sophisticated oil rigs are built.
Bad Bentheim hosts the headquarters of BENTEC, a company whose history reaches into the 19th century and whose engineers and craftsmen have mastered the art of building complete oil drilling rigs for harsh and hostile environments on both land and sea. With branch offices from Aberdeen and Oslo in Western Europe to Almaty in Kazakhstan, BENTEC offers the oil drilling industry a sophisticated array of products and services.
What enables BENTEC to achieve this feat in the heartland of Europe is its almost obsessive attention to detail and quality. The company draws from a century of experience and maintains a highly trained group of people backed by a wall of international certifications. To meet the challenge of building equipment that will operate permanently at sea, the company's engineers adhere to very high quality standards. And in most cases, the company produces its own technology to achieve the required reliability.
BENTEC's latest offering to outfit new and existing oil rigs is an electronic drilling instrumentation system called the InfoDrill. Designed in-house by BENTEC engineers, the InfoDrill is a supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system designed to display all relevant drilling and process data to the supervising personnel. Joerg Merschjann, a BENTEC engineer and one of the team of developers who produced the InfoDrill, says that the product is designed to provide "a higher efficiency compared to an analogue system" and the "driller has a better overview of the process."
To design the InfoDrill, which allows remote monitoring of the offshore oil rigs, BENTEC has adopted OPC as core technology for data acquisition. InfoDrill is designed as an OPC client and it uses OPC servers from Cyberlogic, based in Troy, Mich., to collect data from various controllers operating on the distant oil rigs. Merschjann says, "In our first application, we used a different [software] that caused lots of problems and didn't work properly. We changed to Cyberlogic OPC servers and have not encountered any problems since."
With the use of OPC, BENTEC continues to be an innovative leader in the oil drilling industry. The giant towers BENTEC erects in Bad Bentheim will eventually go to work in some of the harshest environments in the world. But they will always be known as the "Offshore Rig Built in the Woods."
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