In the critical area of offshore asset integrity, a new study published by Oil & Gas UK today (May 23) promises to broaden awareness of the array of technologies developed and deployed successfully by the industry and other sectors which could be used to great effect in delivering safe and effective improvements in efficiency.
‘The Asset Integrity Theme Landscaping Study’, which Oil & Gas UK commissioned from Lockheed Martin on behalf of the Maximising Economic Recovery for the UK Continental Shelf (MER UK) Technology Leadership Board, focuses on two key areas. These are technologies with the potential to improve the inspection of pressured systems including process vessels used to extract and produce oil and gas and, secondly, methods for more effectively managing corrosion under insulation (CUI) of onshore and offshore structures.
The study compiles the range of technologies available, as well as those under development, and is one of the first outcomes of the MER UK Forum, led by the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA), with the remit to work across government and industry to help restore competitiveness to the North Sea basin.
Contributors to the study, which was championed by representatives from both TOTAL E&P UK Limited and Amec Foster Wheeler, include the Oil and & Gas Innovation Centre (OGIC) and the Industry Technology Facilitator (ITF) together with the collaborative input of more than 90 technology-focused industry representatives working with operators, prime contractors, SMEs, government and research councils, innovation centres, joint industry bodies and academia.
Paul White, GE Oil and Gas’s director of subsea technology and industry co-chair of the MER UK Technology Leadership Board, said: “The MER UK Technology Leadership Board’s strategy is to promote a co-operative approach which encourages contributors to develop technologies for the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS) which are relevant to multi field application and focused on priority areas where there is most potential for delivering significant improvements in performance.
“This study explores technologies, such as ultrasonic and electromagnetic techniques, which have the potential to improve internal inspections of process vessels which are used in processes such as the separation of oil and gas and produced water offshore. The deployment of new technologies would allow offshore teams to gather more detailed information on the integrity of these assets enabling them to more rapidly pinpoint priority areas for attention, reduce production downtime during a shutdown and minimise exposure to hazards.
“The report also looks at methods including acoustic resonance and microwave sensing, which could be safely used to reduce the time and costs involved in detecting, inspecting and managing corrosion under insulation in structures, including pipelines. Delivering improvements in these key areas will help efforts to improve asset integrity, contribute to production efficiency and safely extend the operating lives of oil and gas fields.”
Angela Seeney, Oil and Gas Authority’s director for technology, supply chain and decommissioning and co-chair of the Technology Leadership Board said: “This study illustrates in a very tangible way the breadth of opportunity for the UK oil and gas industry to benefit from innovative technologies and achieve the sustainable cost efficiencies needed for today’s UKCS operations. The Technology Leadership Board is grateful to Oil & Gas UK for funding this important study and to the participating companies leading and executing it”.
Alec Harley, energy sector director, IS&GS Lockheed Martin UK, said: “We gathered some fascinating information from a large cross section of specialists, including those in other high performing sectors such as the medical, space exploration and nuclear industries, where technological advances are driving significant improvements in efficiency. We are optimistic some of these will help stimulate exciting technology innovations in the oil and gas industry.”
Ian Phillips, OGIC’s chief executive, said: “In a clear demonstration of the sector’s co-operative efforts to tackle its cost base and improve efficiency, more than 90 technology-focused industry representatives contributed to furthering the study by participating in two workshops based on Lockheed Martin’s initial research on existing and emerging technologies.”
“We believe this comprehensive study, which assesses technologies with respect to their maturity, cost, risk, benefit and applicability to the oil and gas industry, will play an important role in the sector’s collective efforts to secure a safe, productive and enduring future for the UK Continental Shelf.”
The Asset Integrity Theme Landscaping Study is available on the Oil & Gas UK website.