Since it began addressing safety critical fire water deluge system integrity issues a year ago, Paradigm Flow Solutions has rapidly expanded its provision in this area. The company is now working on life-of-field solutions with two North Sea operators, with three more signed up for similar services and a first Gulf of Mexico job in the offing. Meg Chesshyre reports.
The technological innovations that underpin Paradigm Flow Solutions’ fire water safety services offering, allow systems to be thoroughly cleaned while production is live and pressurised, eliminating the need for costly outages and unnecessary additional mechanical and support workscopes and personnel. The services have grown from testing, inspection and maintenance to a six-step suite of solutions, starting with an onshore health check, followed by offshore testing, inspection and maintenance; hydraulic modelling; and ‘live’ firewater ring main online cleaning. The service also includes for provision of automated temporary fire protection packages and an aftercare service.
Rob Bain, managing director of Paradigm Flow Solutions explains: ‘We started to address this issue a year ago as a result of the UK Health & Safety Executive’s KP4 (Key Programme 4) initiative.’ Launched in July 2010 and expected to run until December 2013, this is the HSE Offshore Safety Division’s inspection programme for ageing offshore infrastructure and life extension. ‘KP4 was developed because the majority of the installations in the North Sea have now gone well beyond their design life, and in many cases the operators would like to keep them operating for another 10-20 years,’ adds Bain.
The HSE became concerned about the safety critical systems on these ageing assets including the fire water deluge systems and what was being done to ensure that they could maintain their functionality for the next 10-20 years. It was concerned that existing methods may not be optimal.
The most common method in the past has been ‘pickling’, ie using various acids to remove any debris present, flushing it out and adding an inhibitor. ‘This is time consuming and expensive, involving a lot of equipment and people, but more importantly it takes the deluge system offline for significant periods,’ says Bain.
Having examined the problem, Paradigm came up with a unique means to clean these deluge systems online. ‘We do the clean out very quickly online, then passivate the system with an environmentally friendly inhibitor,’ explains Bain. But this was only part of the problem. ‘Operators were struggling with basic things like having up-to-date P&IDs [process and instrumentation drawings].While we were out there we provided a survey capability and drawing package, and from that it quickly grew into doing the wet and dry testing that needs to be carried out on a periodic basis.’ The testing is backed up with high definition video, with a data acquisition system that provides all the information to the operator either digitally, electronically or in hard copy.
According to Paradigm, operators are also keen to explore ways of reducing the frequency of testing, maybe to once every five years, as introducing seawater into a deluge system for testing creates a ready environment for corrosion to take place. ‘The only way that you can move to that position is if you can demonstrate that your system is clean and functions as it should,’ Bain points out. ‘You’ve got up-to-date records and you can provide the regulator with all that information as well as providing them with an assurance that the system is inhibited.’ Seeking to extend the gap between tests, Paradigm has been working with operators on the development of a range of long life corrosion inhibitors.
Cleaning the firewater ring main has proved difficult in the past. Paradigm has recently developed a system called Pure-Flow, which accesses the live firewater main using existing access points and creates a circulation loop, then circulates a powerful, ‘environmentally friendly’ biocide, which dissolves into salts. ‘We can clean out this stuff online and insert a borescope camera into the line,’ says Bain. ‘We can watch the actual tuberculation coming off the pipework and demonstrate to the client that this is being cleaned up.’ To obviate the need for offshore ‘fire watchers’, an automated fire protection package can be added for temporary integral deluge protection during system outages.
The Paradigm package also includes life of field aftercare. The Tri-Flow ‘smart’ filter system, along with bespoke chemical dosing packages, enable debris capture and follow-on passivation to ensure the deluge system remains fit for purpose. The company will also provide an on-call, fast response service team as required. OE