Non-intrusive pipeline testing could save N. Sea operators more than £240m per year

A non-intrusive pipeline inspection tool at work.
A non-intrusive pipeline inspection tool at work.

An industry survey by the Oil & Gas Technology Centre and ABB found that adopting non-intrusive technology could deliver increased production and lower maintenance costs worth up to £242 million per year to North Sea operators

Most North Sea oil companies utilise intrusive inspection techniques to assess the condition of process vessels and tanks and ensure safe operations. This requires shutting down the platform and personnel entering the vessel to carry out a manual inspection.

This results in significant lost production and people entering a confined space is potentially hazardous.

Recent advances in non-intrusive inspection (NII) technology mean it is now possible, in many instances, to effectively assess the internal condition of the vessel without a shutdown or sending personnel into the vessel.

Key findings from the survey include:

  • Adopting non-intrusive inspection could deliver increased production and lower maintenance costs worth circa £242 million per year.
  • Potentially, up to 80% of vessels could be examined non-intrusively, without requiring a shutdown.
  • Improved safety with up to 80% fewer confined space entries required, with a corresponding reduction in the number of line breaks and subsequent leak tests.
  • A 33% reduction in turnaround durations have been achieved.
  • Overall cost savings of up to 80% compared to inspections that involve entry into a vessel.

The Oil & Gas Technology Centre is a not-for-profit, industry-led, technology research and development organisation based in Aberdeen. 

Rebecca Allison, Asset Integrity Solution Centre Manager at the Oil & Gas Technology Centre, said: “Non-intrusive inspection provides a real opportunity to improve the competitiveness of the UK North Sea and help maximise economic recovery. One of our key objectives is to eliminate vessel entry for inspection by 2026 and NII is critical to delivering this.

“We hope this survey and recent field trials will help break down the barriers to implementing NII and spark a technology transformation in offshore inspection techniques.”

Meanwhile, the value of N. Sea take-over deals this year has exceed $8 billion as confidence ‘gradually returns’ to the sector.

However, the low level of development drilling during 2017 remains a ‘particular concern’, with just 63 wells drilled during the first three quarters of the year, according to a survey by an Aberdeen-based industry group.

19 Dec 2017

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