The North Sea oil and gas industry is challenged by a combination of rising production costs, falling oil prices and ageing facilities that require increasingly expensive maintenance.
Over the last 10 years average production efficiency has fallen from 80% to 60% as assets age. Process vessel inspection is a significant contributor to production downtime during a shutdown and often involves personnel entry into confined spaces, which poses a major risk to safety.
So an industry workshop is being held in Aberdeen next month to target new and existing techniques and technology to significantly reduce process vessel inspection times in order to improve overall production efficiency and reduce the risk to personnel from entering process vessels.
The workshop is part of an initiative led by the Technology Leadership Board (TLB), which is funding the work on behalf of the industry, to target advances in process vessel inspection and managing corrosion under insulation (CUI), which could improve production efficiency and realise cost savings of up to £1 billion.
The project involves the TLB working in partnership withTotal E&P UK and Amec Foster Wheeler, Oil & Gas UK, Oil & Gas Authority, Oil & Gas Innovation Centre (OGIC) and Industry Technology Facilitator (ITF).
Improving the efficiency of managing corrosion under insulation is a priority for this project. CUI is difficult to detect because of the insulation cover that masks the corrosion problem, sometimes until it is too late. It is expensive to remove the insulation cover, particularly if asbestos is involved.
Historically, industry data shows 60% of pipe leaks are caused by CUI. The project will target a method for detecting CUI under all conditions without first having to remove the insulation and will consider portable/mobile or permanently installed devices to allow inspection of on/offshore process pipework with minimal use of scaffolding.
A major study awarded to Lockheed Martin last year to identify processes and technologies that can be applied to these asset integrity challenges will report back in the workshop sessions.
The workshop due to be opened by John Pearson, group president for Northern Europe & CIS at Amec Foster Wheeler will focus on processes and technologies for vessel inspection, while the workshop to be opened by Elisabeth Proust, managing director of Total E&P UK, will focus on processes and technologies for tackling corrosion.
Oonagh Werngren, Oil & Gas UK’s operations director and TLB member, said: “Looking at innovative technology to manage and monitor the integrity of ageing offshore installations, is one of three themes the TLB has prioritised as areas where innovation is urgently required, and where there is potential for multi-field application. Working with Lockheed Martin, the TLB aims to identify key innovative techniques from other sectors that could be transferred to oil and gas.”
Permasense – which provides remote corrosion and erosion monitoring solutions to the global energy industry – has reported a 35% increase in revenues last year to $10 million.
Permasense’s geographic reach has also expanded significantly over the last year, with the company opening new offices in Aberdeen and Houston.
This follows the recent launch of ET210 – Permasense’s break-through product for the real-time monitoring of corrosion and erosion at upstream oil and gas assets.
Peter Collins, Chief Executive, Permasense, added: “The challenging industry environment is encouraging operators to look for innovative solutions that have a genuine impact on project economics and offer quick return on investment. Permasense systems are renowned for increasing operating efficiency and enhancing production at oil and gas assets, with a payback time of weeks.
“The quality and frequency of the data delivered offers operators real-time insight into the impact of production operations – including flowrates, sand and acid levels – on equipment integrity.”