Technology

New offshore technologies

 By Peter Ward

A new study shows that the oil and gas industry could unlock more than $1bn of revenues by developing technologies to inspect offshore infrastructure. Which technologies are these? Where are they being built…?

The oil and gas industry could generate an extra $1 billion in revenues if it were to develop new technologies in the field of offshore infrastructure inspection, a new report has found.

The study, which Oil & Gas UK commissioned from Lockheed Martin and was titled The Asset Integrity Theme Landscaping Study, found that companies’ efforts to check installations for corrosion and inspect vessels were being held back by gaps in technology.

Many of the current techniques are inefficient and unnecessarily costly. Vessel inspection is usually done manually, according to the report’s authors, and can be hazardous and time consuming, as an engineer has to work in confined spaces. Corrosion is also difficult to trace because surfaces on oil and gas installation are covered with insulation which is expensive and time consuming to remove.

The report, which was ordered on behalf of the UK’s Technology Leadership Board, mentioned a number of technologies which could help, but warned that there was not currently one single solution, and oil and gas companies would likely have to combine several different options to get the desired results.

One corrosion detection technology mentioned was the pulsed eddy current technique, which involves driving an electromagnetic field through the outer insulation, allowing sensors to detect variation in the field that are caused by changes in the material, such as corrosion.

The report also recommended that oil and gas operators use a combination of remotely-operated vehicles and sensors to make vessel inspection more efficient.

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“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,” Paul White, GE Oil and Gas’s director of subsea technology and industry co-chair of the MER UK Technology Leadership Board, said. “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 minimize exposure to hazards.”

The study warned that there is a “lack of focus” on vessel inspection and corrosion detection technologies within the oil and gas industries, and that some of the technology being developed originated in other industries.

One of the more conventional techniques to deter corrosion is anti-corrosion coating. This coating is used in all marine purposes as well as oil and gas installations, and the market is set to be worth $30.4 billion by 2021, according to a report published by MarketsandMarkets.

about the author
Peter Ward
Business and technology reporter based in New York. MA in Business Journalism at Columbia University Journalism School 2013. Five years experience reporting in the U.S., the U.K., and the Middle East.