Engineer Designs Pipeline Controls for Norwegian Sea

A Ventura engineer has designed electronic controls used in installing a new flexible pipeline that connects offshore platforms with petroleum wellheads in the deep waters of the Norwegian Sea.

Tom Bunker, a senior staff engineer at IPC Systems Engineering Inc., developed the software, wiring and computer displays used in laying the pipeline while with his previous employer, WesTech Gear in Lynwood.

The flexible line allows semi-submersible platforms to float and move with the ocean’s tides while remaining connected to undersea wellheads, Bunker said.

He said the lines he helped install will be used to connect platforms off Bergen, Norway, with wellheads as deep as 1,000 feet under water.


The lines are being installed in an area known as the Troll Field, which is expected to supply most of Western Europe’s natural gas needs for the foreseeable future.

Bunker recently returned from seven weeks in Norway. He said flexible lines are easier than rigid pipelines to install because they don’t need welding.

“Flexible sections are made onshore, with connectors on the ends that fit the wellheads and the platforms,” he said. “We simply bolt more pieces together if we need more pipe.”