A series of trials in the North Sea to test non-intrusive inspection (NII) techniques have shown that they can offer similar results to traditional intrusive methods.
Non-intrusive inspection technologies could mean operators do not have to shut-in equipment, such as pressure vessels, for inspection, reducing down time and limiting production losses encountered during such work normally.
Three NII trials were set up by the Oil & Gas Technology Centre and oil major Total on two process pressure vessels on the Elgin Franklin platform. Both would normally have been inspective intrusively during a shutdown.
The trials were carried out ahead of a planned shutdown, so that the results could be compared.
Three technology providers – Eddyfi Technologies, Mistras and Sonomatic – were selected for the field trials and a range of ultrasonic corrosion mapping and time of flight diffraction solutions were teseted.
The results correlated, meaning NII delivered the same outcomes but without the requirement for a costly shutdown and potentially hazardous man entry into the vessels.
The OGTC, which launched in February (OE: March 2017), has three goals, under its Asset Integrity solutions center: reduce inspection costs by 50% by 2021; eliminate all failures by corrosion under insulation (CUI) by 2026; and have no vessel entry for inspection by 2026, by man or drone. Currently, just 10% of operators are using non-intrusive inspection (NII) techniques for the latter, according to Rebecca Allison, asset integrity solutions center manager, for OGTC.
She said: “Process vessel inspection is a major cause of production downtime and costs the industry hundreds of millions every year. The trials were successful and demonstrate that NII can help operators achieve significant efficiencies in maintenance and integrity costs, while improving production uptime.
“We recently completed a non-intrusive inspection survey with ABB which identified significant potential benefits for adopting NII in the North Sea. It’s encouraging to see that the trial outcomes support the study results and we’d like to hear from any operators who are interested in to conducting future NII trials on their assets.”
Dave MacKinnon, Head of Technological Innovation for Total E&P UK, said:
“The future of the offshore industry depends on companies like Total stepping forward and embracing new technology. Our partnership with the Technology Centre is central to our technology strategy.
“The field trials of new non-intrusive inspection (NII) technology has the potential to reduce both the costs of inspection and the number of times we need to work in restricted spaces. Working with the Technology Centre, Total looks forward to taking new ideas such as NII forward and making the North Sea a safer and more efficient place to operate.”
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