Issuu on Google+

Special Report

High Performance Subsea IRM and Diving Support Services Subsea IRM and Diving Support Services Different Differences A Market for IRM It’s a Hardware World Maintaining Standards‌

Sponsored by

Published by Global Business Media


SPECIAL REPORT: HIGH PERFORMANCE SUBSEA IRM AND DIVING SUPPORT SERVICES

SPECIAL REPORT

High Performance Subsea IRM and Diving Support Services Subsea IRM and Diving Support Services Different Differences

Contents

A Market for IRM It’s a Hardware World Maintaining Standards…

Foreword

2

John Hancock, Editor

Subsea IRM and Diving Support Services

3

Harkand Group

Continuing Growth Largely Unaffected by Oil Price Harkand’s Service-Led Approach to IRM Activity The Resurgence of Air Diving

Sponsored by

Published by Global Business Media

Published by Global Business Media

Subsea Processing Comes of Age IRM Challenges Continue to Rise

Global Business Media Limited 62 The Street Ashtead Surrey KT21 1AT United Kingdom

Different Differences

Switchboard: +44 (0)1737 850 939 Fax: +44 (0)1737 851 952 Email: info@globalbusinessmedia.org Website: www.globalbusinessmedia.org

The Offshore Subsea Sector

Publisher Kevin Bell

Life Cycles

Business Development Director Marie-Anne Brooks

A Market for IRM

Editor John Hancock

6

John Hancock, Editor

Carbon Based Fuels Renewable Energy

8

Francis Slade, Staff Writer

A Growing Market

Senior Project Manager Steve Banks

Looking Further and Deeper for Reserves

Advertising Executives Michael McCarthy Abigail Coombes

Subsea Processing

Production Manager Paul Davies For further information visit: www.globalbusinessmedia.org The opinions and views expressed in the editorial content in this publication are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily represent the views of any organisation with which they may be associated. Material in advertisements and promotional features may be considered to represent the views of the advertisers and promoters. The views and opinions expressed in this publication do not necessarily express the views of the Publishers or the Editor. While every care has been taken in the preparation of this publication, neither the Publishers nor the Editor are responsible for such opinions and views or for any inaccuracies in the articles.

Keeping Old Fields Running

It’s a Hardware World

10

Peter Dunwell, Correspondent

Hardware Under the Sea Subsea Processing It’s in the Pipeline

Maintaining Standards…

12

John Hancock, Editor

Why IRM? Safety and Efficiency Life Extension IRM Equipment and Systems Air Diving Saturation Diving

© 2013. The entire contents of this publication are protected by copyright. Full details are available from the Publishers. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the copyright owner. Cover image – Snorre B, Statoil/Harald Pettersen

ROVs

References 14

www.offshoretechnologyreports.com | 1


SPECIAL REPORT: HIGH PERFORMANCE SUBSEA IRM AND DIVING SUPPORT SERVICES

Foreword E

ven working well within capabilities and design

be towards exploration and exploitation of mineral

limits (usually the case with offshore subsea

reserves or the operation of renewable energy

installations) operating at, sometimes, great depths

generation equipment. In this sector, as in so

and carrying corrosive, sometimes hazardous,

many businesses these days, many companies

materials is bound to exact a toll on equipment.

which are specialists in their own milieu are

Like any well-run business, oil and gas, and energy

outsourcing the IRM of equipment to businesses

operations put maintenance high on their list of

for whom that is their core capability and for whom

priorities. It’s not just because the cost of failure

the intellectual drive is towards developing and

can be financially crippling, although it can, it is also

implementing ever better ways of managing those

because equipment failure compromises workers’

supporting processes.

safety, has the potential to pollute the environment

In this paper we consider the parameters which

within which the business operates and can obviate

influence what IRM services are required; from

years of responsible corporate behaviour when

functions to be supported, to life stages and life

operational failure leads to reputational disaster.

extension. We look at why the market for IRM and

And all of that also costs money.

the wider offshore subsea sector is growing and at

This Special Report opens with an article that

the kind of equipment being used in offshore subsea

looks at the importance of subsea technology to

operations, plus how operating that equipment can

offshore production, unlocking deeper reserves and

generate maintenance requirements. We consider

improving the economics of marginal fields in shallow

how maintaining equipment during its intended

waters with tie-backs of small reservoirs into existing

design life can not only bring benefits during that

facilities. It is anticipated that between 2012 and 2016,

time, but also make possible its extended operation

$77bn will be spent on subsea vessel operations,

beyond design life; an increasing requirement as

servicing field development, well intervention

rising prices make previously non-viable reserves

and inspection, repair and maintenance (IRM). The

become viable. And we look at the main equipment

latest name in subsea, Harkand Group, with its

used delivering IRM support.

service-led approach, has been formed with the specific intention of capturing a major share of this rapidly growing market. For energy companies, maintenance may not be their core capability; their intellectual drive will

John Hancock Editor

John Hancock joined as Editor of Offshore Technology Reports in early 2012. A journalist for nearly 25 years, John has written and edited articles and papers on a range of engineering, support services and technology topics as well as for key events in the sector. Subjects have included aero-engineering, testing, aviation IT, materials engineering, weapons research, supply chain, logistics and naval engineering.

2 | www.offshoretechnologyreports.com


SPECIAL REPORT: HIGH PERFORMANCE SUBSEA IRM AND DIVING SUPPORT SERVICES

Subsea IRM and Diving Support Services Harkand Group

S

ubsea technology is vital to offshore production, unlocking harder to reach, deeper reserves and improving the economics of marginal fields in shallow waters with tiebacks of small reservoirs into existing facilities. Over $135 billion of spend in subsea hardware is anticipated in the next five years with pipelines accounting for half of this forecast expenditure. There is already a complex array of subsea infrastructure criss-crossing sea beds from the North Sea to the Gulf of Mexico and offshore Brazil, Africa and Australia. Market analysts, Douglas Westwood, recently estimated some 190,000 kilometres of submarine pipeline has already been installed. Between 2012 and 2016, Douglas Westwood forecasts that $77bn will be spent globally on subsea vessel operations, servicing field development, well intervention and inspection, repair and maintenance (IRM). This is a staggering 63% increase on the preceding period.

Continuing Growth Largely Unaffected by Oil Price Looking at the subsea IRM market specifically, predictions show that this sector of the vessel market is set to be worth £7.5bn annually by 2016. This sector is seeing huge growth thanks

to the sheer magnitude and age of this global subsea infrastructure. Unlike the CAPEX-led field development sector, IRM is largely unaffected by the oil price. While construction and the installation of subsea infrastructure will continue to be led by the major, established companies, the intensifying need to maintain and repair ageing subsea equipment is opening up opportunities for new players in the marketplace. Against this backdrop, the latest name in subsea, Harkand Group, has been formed with the specific intention of capturing a major share of this rapidly-growing inspection, repair and maintenance market. “With much of the global subsea fleet and resource dedicated to large scale, new development work, there is a growing but more niche market in terms of inspecting, repairing and maintaining the ageing infrastructure and complex new subsea systems being installed,” commented Nicolas Mouté, chief executive of Harkand Group. “While the big guys will continue to offer inspection, repair and maintenance services when there are appropriate slots on EPIC projects, there is a gap opening up for smaller, nimbler companies to fill. With a service-orientated approach that is not dependent on availability of vessels and their use on EPIC projects, we can

www.harkandgroup.com

www.offshoretechnologyreports.com | 3


SPECIAL REPORT: HIGH PERFORMANCE SUBSEA IRM AND DIVING SUPPORT SERVICES

Looking at the subsea

“For example, we are seeing an increase in the use of air diving spreads as operators seek the most cost-effective solution to the necessary platform repairs and on-going maintenance,” added Mouté.

IRM market specifically,

The Resurgence of Air Diving

predictions show that this sector of the vessel market is set to be worth £7.5bn annually by 2016

ROV Comanche

flexibly and proactively address light construction and IRM at different stages of field life.”

Harkand’s Service-Led Approach to IRM Activity By bringing together the Iremis fleet of dive support vessels with ISS’ survey, ROV and diving services, as well as sister company Andrews Survey’s capabilities, Harkand is well-positioned to capitalise on the increasing expenditure in subsea IRM, particularly in the North Sea and the Gulf of Mexico. Unlike the cyclical nature of EPIC programmes, IRM activity is on an ongoing ad-hoc basis. Harkand’s service-led approach means that it will be able to respond to that demand and will ensure that the service is enabled by its fleet rather than being driven by availability of vessels. “We aim to set new international standards in IRM, providing a flexible service to the major subsea construction players as well as the operators,” explained Mouté. Because Harkand will not be driven by any of their assets, be they vessels, divers or ROVs, the group will be able to work with the operator to design and develop the safest and most cost-effective, potentially bespoke, solution for each challenge whether it is inspection, repair or maintenance.

triton xls

4 | www.offshoretechnologyreports.com

Air diving from the platform or asset, rather than using a dive support vessel is seeing something of a resurgence in the North Sea. Mouté said: “Until recently, air diving spreads and teams were not particularly welcomed on the asset itself due to the pressures on offshore accommodation and capacity for lay-down. But, increasingly, the need for more cost-effective, flexible solutions, is changing attitudes and decisions. As a result, Harkand is investing significantly in upgrading the equipment used by air-divers to ensure it is intrinsically safe for use on zone-rated areas on platforms. Equally, we have invested in A frame launch systems and zone-rated crane launch systems for both air diving spreads and ROVs, as the use of platformbased ROVs is also increasing with the quest to come up with the safest, most appropriate and cost-effective solutions.” Good efficiency of divers is key to delivering subsea IRM and there is increasing investment in modern dive support vessels. Harkand’s latest DSVs, Harkand Atlantis and Harkand Da Vinci, feature state-of-the-art 18 man saturation diving systems, twin three-man diving bells and two 18man hyperbaric lifeboats. They have 140t active heave compensated cranes and 1,100m2 of main deck space, as well as a Triton XLX work class ROV, inspection ROV system and air diving spread on board. Mouté continued: “The advantage of the twin diving bells is that you have the ability to maintain two working divers at the worksite 24 hours a day,


SPECIAL REPORT: HIGH PERFORMANCE SUBSEA IRM AND DIVING SUPPORT SERVICES

Subsea processing consists of a range of technologies for separation, pumping and compression that enable production from offshore wells without the need for triton xlX 4000

surface facilities driving efficiency up by more than a third and allowing for a variety of tasks in light construction and IRM to be performed.” The ROV market is also on the up, driven mainly by the rise in exploration and subsea field development. Douglas Westwood’s research suggests that total annual expenditure on ROVs is expected to rise from $891m to $1.692bn in 2015, a growth of almost 100% in five years. With an extensive fleet of work-class ROVs and control of multi-purpose vessels with ROV launching systems, Harkand aims to capture a significant share of survey, light construction and IRM in deeper waters where diverless solutions are required.

Subsea Processing Comes of Age In deeper water, subsea processing is now coming of age, adding to the IRM challenge. The introduction of subsea process systems that can separate oil, water and gas fractions on the seabed is a major and game-changing technological break-through. The history of this technology dates back to the late eighties, but it was only with the successful commissioning of the Tordis subsea separator in 2007 that this technology was field-proven. Subsea processing consists of a range of technologies for separation, pumping and compression that enable production from offshore wells without the need for surface facilities. These

systems have become accepted by operators as a solution to accelerate development, maximise production and reduce costs with many now installed and already demonstrating they can reliably deliver the value promised. Some analysts anticipate the number of systems globally could double by 2020. However, critical factors in the adoption of new technology are availability and reliability. Integrity management programmes which include monitoring, testing and inspection can capture data for risk analysis.

IRM Challenges Continue to Rise “Whether it is inspection or the development of preventive repair measures, these sorts of plug and play technologies on the seabed will require flexible, safe, diverless IRM solutions,” said Mr Mouté. From the new pioneering subsea technologies to the subsea infrastructure laid in the early eighties, the challenges for IRM will continue to rise and the industry will have to adapt, consolidate and invest in fleet upgrades and new tonnage as well as adopt a universal standard of safety in this sector. Fleet-of-foot companies with adaptable, knowledgeable services like Harkand will be able to capitalise on the rapid growth.

www.harkandgroup.com

www.offshoretechnologyreports.com | 5


SPECIAL REPORT: HIGH PERFORMANCE SUBSEA IRM AND DIVING SUPPORT SERVICES

Different Differences John Hancock, Editor Offshore subsea is by no means an homogenous sector but presents a range of challenges

Subsea refers to offshore oil and gas facilities and offshore renewable energy: altogether among the most demanding and costliest economic activities undertaken

The Offshore Subsea Sector ÏOffshore and subsea engineering embraces many activities. The term ‘Subsea’ identifies technology, equipment and operating methods used in those activities that have to be conducted under water and offshore 1. Furthermore, “Subsea [activities] are usually split into shallow water and deepwater categories to distinguish between the different facilities and approaches that are needed.”2 For the purpose of this paper, subsea refers to offshore oil and gas facilities and offshore renewable energy: altogether among the most demanding and costliest economic activities undertaken in the world. The oceans are not only ‘last frontier’ repositories for traditional carbon-based fuels such as oil and gas, but are increasingly seen as either the largest generators of renewable energy through wave and tidal power or the best place to harness wind power economically. So, before considering the global inspection repair and maintenance (IRM) sector, who it serves, how it serves them, what is used to deliver those services and how those vary in shallow water and deepwater categories, we should first establish some basic realities and components that make up the offshore subsea environment. This uniquely challenging, even hostile, environment presents every manifestation of nature to pit against the engineers and others who design, build and operate industrial structures far from land, on and beneath the surface of the ocean. But challenging or not, there is an enormous economic driver to locate, access and exploit reserves of energy to meet the world’s ever-growing requirement for power today, as well as harnessing for tomorrow the endless energy-driving ocean currents and winds around the planet.

Carbon Based Fuels Oil is probably the most familiar product from offshore subsea activities but not the only one. As abundant, and of growing importance today is gas; currently set to be the main generator of electricity in many economies. 6 | www.offshoretechnologyreports.com

According to Jason Waldie, Associate Director at energy industry analysts, Douglas-Westwood, speaking at the ‘Subsea Asia Conference’, Kuala Lumpur in June 20113, the production and use of natural gas is set “to soar” in the period to 2021 with deepwater gas identified “to be of growing importance.” Part of the reason for this is the abundance of natural gas available beneath the oceans and part the fact that gas power plants require the lowest capital expenditure for the amount of energy they produce. But whether it’s oil or gas being produced, the subsea offshore energy sector is going to be growing for some time into the future and, given the depletion and finite nature of most reserves accessible from land, producers will be looking to exploit ever more challenging conditions and depths in order to win every possible drop of carbon-based fuels while longer term renewable resources are still being developed.

Renewable Energy However, renewable energy resources are themselves becoming increasingly important components for the offshore subsea sector. The Royal Institution of Naval Architects (RINA) sums up progress to date4: “Marine and offshore energy offers the potential to meet a small but significant share of the world’s renewable energy aspirations. However, the maritime environment also provides many challenges in terms of economics, survivability and reliability of such systems. Offshore wind energy [has] made the most rapid progress and is now starting to move into large scale commercial developments. Wave energy developments have only seen sporadic progress since the 1970s. Tidal and current stream technologies, which began serious development in the 1990s, are now at the prototype and small scale commercial development stage.” The UK Government is behind offshore renewable energy and has established the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult to manage and support development of the engineering and technology around the sector. Wind energy is, by now, a reasonably well understood and established resource but the


SPECIAL REPORT: HIGH PERFORMANCE SUBSEA IRM AND DIVING SUPPORT SERVICES

machines used to harness wind energy are by no means universally accepted. The very places on land where they function best are often those wild unspoiled places that people most want to preserve without the intrusion of large white, groaning windmills. Because of this, a great deal of effort is going into developing offshore wind energy. In England, for instance, Offshore Wind England aims to establish a national supply chain for offshore wind5. Not only does offshore wind power place wind turbines on or anchored to the ocean floor, but also it establishes a whole power transmission infrastructure; all of which has to be maintained. Wave energy, as the RINA suggests, is not yet at a commercial stage but there are several developments taking place including a prototype infrastructure device known as the Wave Hub located off Cornwall in south-west England. This complex unit is designed to receive power from various generation systems in the ocean and then transmit it all over a single cable to the shore. The means to harness tidal and current power are also still at an early stage but they will have to be developed and the complex equipment used will have to be sited in subsea offshore locations.

Producers will be looking to exploit ever more challenging conditions and depths in order to win every possible drop of carbon-based fuels while longer term renewable resources are still being developed

Life Cycles If these are the sectors that will have to be served by IRM, the other variable in the mix will be the different stages in the life-cycle of an installation and the impact that will have on the equipment used. In simple terms, that lifecycle goes through exploration and evaluation of the reserves, developing the field, building the subsea structures, production, and ultimate decommissioning and dismantling. An addition to the life-cycle these days will be life extension of

facilities where either economics or engineering capabilities have made technically challenging fields or previously non-viable fields, viable. The sector in which offshore subsea IRM has to operate includes a significant array of variables both in the nature of the energy being exploited and in the age of installation being used.

www.harkandgroup.com

www.offshoretechnologyreports.com | 7


SPECIAL REPORT: HIGH PERFORMANCE SUBSEA IRM AND DIVING SUPPORT SERVICES

A Market for IRM Francis Slade, Staff Writer

...and a growing range of applications for support services

If it is axiomatic that offshore production could not exist without subsea technology, it is equally true that subsea technology could not function without subsea IRM and the services that accompany it

A Growing Market The subsea IRM market is growing: according to energy industry analysts Douglas-Westwood, some $77 billion will be spent on subsea vessel operations, new field development, well intervention, and inspection repair and maintenance (IRM) in the period between 2012 and 2016. Whether it’s to support the latest subsea technologies or the on-going maintenance of life-extended subsea installations dating back to the 1980s, the demand for IRM services will remain high and growing as the wider industry grows. According to Infield Systems’ latest research published in late February 20136, “… the subsea industry is amongst the most promising in the offshore oil and gas world, with subsea c apital expenditure (Capex) set to grow at a staggering 14.8% CAGR (compound annual growth rate) to 2017.” Douglas-Westwood, again7, is projecting more than 7,000 fixed and more than 200 floating platforms, and with 190,000 km of pipeline currently installed plus a number of major modification programmes to push growth in offshore operations and maintenance in the next couple of years. It isn’t only the growth of new fields, but also the life extension of established fields that is stretching oil and gas production life cycles to extents that were not previously planned and that, in turn, require equipment to be used some way beyond its anticipated working life. If it is axiomatic that offshore production could not exist without subsea technology, it is equally true that subsea technology could not function without subsea IRM and the services that accompany it. Subsea inspection, repair and maintenance (IRM) is a rapidly growing industry. In 2009, Douglas-Westwood estimated global demand for subsea IRM expenditure at $4.5billion, with this set to reach almost $7billion in 2014.8

Looking Further and Deeper for Reserves Even new reserves now being developed will pose different IRM challenges from earlier 8 | www.offshoretechnologyreports.com

developments. As reported in the article ‘Offshore Oil and Gas Installation—Aging and Life Extension’ in The Journal of Petroleum Technology February 2012 edition9, “When oil and gas prices are high, marginal or technically demanding fields become more financially viable. Also, existing assets with low production rates are able to generate significant profit margins. Advances in technology can affect the financial viability of new field developments…” It’s all driven by market demand. “The subsea oil and gas market continues to grow at an increasing pace, as oil and gas operators continue to discover reserves in deeper water areas where the only economically viable recovery solution is a subsea development.” Is how the Infield ‘Subsea Well Intervention Market Report to 2017’10 puts it. This will also be a worldwide phenomenon: Infield’s report again, “Europe is anticipated to require the largest market share of well intervention demand going forward, at 32%, as activity is fuelled by the large number of existing subsea wells in the region. Activity will remain primarily focused on the well-established UK and Norwegian markets, with Statoil continuing to lead the way in terms of performing well intervention work. Elsewhere, the increasing number of deeper water discoveries, particularly in the African and Latin American markets, is expected to account for the increase in demand in these regions, as these deeper water discoveries need to be developed with subsea technology. For operators wishing to optimise production from these recent discoveries, well intervention operations will be a necessity.” In the quest for sufficient energy to keep the world’s lights on during the decades before renewable resources have been developed to a level of efficiency and utility comparable with current resources, producers are looking to ever more inaccessible and technically challenging reserves – and these are mainly subsea and offshore. Estimates suggest that offshore oil production will account for 34% of the global total by 2020 and that, within that figure, 13% will be attributable to deepwater installations.


SPECIAL REPORT: HIGH PERFORMANCE SUBSEA IRM AND DIVING SUPPORT SERVICES

A further dimension of stress can be added for those producers who plan to explore and exploit Artic reserves. The ‘quid pro quo’ of this trend is that the equipment used will be under ever greater levels of stress and the consequences associated with failure will be ever more daunting.

Keeping Old Fields Running “[While] The UKCS FPSO [floating production, storage and offloading] fleet is relatively young… This is not to say that I&M [inspection and maintenance] have not a crucial role to play in detecting and rectifying incipient failure. The safety of systems and equipment throughout the operational life of the installation will depend ever more on the maintenance and inspection function being suitable and well implemented.” That is the conclusion of Lloyd’s Register report ‘FPSO Inspection Repair & Maintenance, Study into Best Practice’11. So, high quality IRM is considered a key element in the good running even of relatively new equipment. Consider then how much more important it will be to the ever growing inventory of aging but life extended equipment. The Journal of Petroleum Technology, February 2012 edition (see above) sums up the situation. “To keep capital and operational expenditures at a minimum, there is an increasing requirement from operators to use existing infrastructure, and, consequently, there is a trend to use subsea tiebacks to existing platforms. Therefore, platforms become ‘hubs’ and often their operational life is extended. The result is that decommissioning is delayed and equipment that had been maintained at nearminimum levels now requires significant overhaul or replacement to continue service for another 10 to 20 years… Extending the life of existing assets ultimately results in installations operating

well beyond their original design life. However, the aging of facilities can have a direct effect on installation integrity and safety… Aging and life extension are major issues for the offshore oil and gas industry… [However,] aging is not about how old the equipment is; it is about what is known about its condition, how that is changing over time, and how effectively the associated risks are being managed.”

Subsea Processing The other big development in offshore subsea operations has been the trend towards moving processing and the paraphernalia that accompanies it, down to the seabed. This development has been dubbed ‘The Game changer’ in the Offshore Magazine article of the name12 in which it is stated that, “…the short-term future for subsea processing is most likely to involve equipment being installed on fields to de-bottleneck topsides facilities. These fields are less likely to be long-distance tiebacks or low-pressure reservoirs and more likely to be deepwater fields or fields with high water content.” The article continues to add that, while the range of areas where subsea processing is likely to be used has decreased, the likelihood of operators using the technology has increased, with nearly all of them expecting to install some subsea processing equipment within the next five years. With ever increasing and aging fleets of complex equipment being located on the seabed in conditions that vary from challenging to hazardous, it seems that the requirement for services that can support competent inspection, repair and maintenance activities will not simply continue but will grow.

www.harkandgroup.com

www.offshoretechnologyreports.com | 9


SPECIAL REPORT: HIGH PERFORMANCE SUBSEA IRM AND DIVING SUPPORT SERVICES

It’s a Hardware World Peter Dunwell, Correspondent

With so much equipment, the need for inspection, repair and maintenance (IRM) in offshore subsea operations is clear

It is, therefore, no surprise that a significant part of any development and operational package would include scheduled inspection and maintenance programs as well as the expediting of repairs

I

t is not possible to talk about the offshore subsea energy sector without talking about equipment and very expensive equipment at that. There is a reason why it costs so much. Given the tremendous demands of the environment in which the sector operates and the enclosed nature and isolation of most installations, everything has to be built to the highest structural, safety and operational integrity levels. But if something does go wrong, there aren’t many places to go to and if something ceases to function, the cost in lost production and/or environmental damage can be enormous. It is, therefore, no surprise that a significant part of any development and operational package would include scheduled inspection and maintenance programs as well as the expediting of repairs.

Hardware Under the Sea The development of subsea oil and gas fields requires specialized equipment which must be reliable enough to safeguard the environment, and make the exploitation of subsea hydrocarbons economically feasible. The deployment of such equipment requires specialized and expensive vessels, which need to be equipped with diving equipment for relatively shallow equipment work (i.e. a few hundred feet water depth maximum), and robotic equipment for [greater] depths. Any requirement to repair or intervene with installed subsea equipment is thus normally very expensive.13 That’s Wikipedia’s take on the matter. Perhaps the most obvious piece of equipment in an offshore subsea installation is the ‘rig’. Strictly, of course, much of the rig or platform is above the surface but whether it’s a floating installation or fixed to the seabed, a great deal of the structure is beneath the surface and subject to all the challenges and hazards that any subsea component has to face. At the opposite end of the line, so to speak, is the well head and accompanying Christmas

10 | www.offshoretechnologyreports.com

tree. Oilfield Wiki describes the Christmas tree… “In petroleum and natural gas extraction, a Christmas tree, or ‘tree’… is an assembly of valves, spools, and fittings used for an oil well, gas well… and other types of wells. It was named for its crude resemblance to a decorated tree… Tree complexity has increased over the last few decades… This is especially true in subsea applications where the resemblance to Christmas trees no longer exists given the frame and support systems into which the main valve block is integrated… The primary function of a tree is to control the flow into or out of the well, usually oil or gas. A tree often provides numerous additional functions… and well-monitoring points…”

Subsea Processing While platforms, wellheads and Christmas trees have been around for a long time, a more recent development has been subsea processing and the equipment associated with it. Subsea process systems can separate oil, water and gas fractions on the seabed and include a number of technologies for separation pumping and compression. They are complex pieces of equipment and add significantly to the requirements of any inspection repair and maintenance (IRM) system. In Offshore Technology ‘The Subsea Processing Promise’14 Gareth Evans explains that, for over 20 years, subsea processing has been poised as one of the most potentially promising technology developments in the offshore industry – and now, shifting factors within the sector over this period have finally begun to tip the balance in its favour. Today, to meet the demands of deeper and more remote reservoirs, the emphasis is firmly on increased production and enhanced recovery. Rigzone15 explains the attraction of subsea processing for an industry where all costs are high. “With production equipment located on the seafloor rather than on a fixed or floating platform,


SPECIAL REPORT: HIGH PERFORMANCE SUBSEA IRM AND DIVING SUPPORT SERVICES

subsea processing provides a less expensive solution for myriad offshore environments. Originally conceived as a way to overcome the challenges of extremely deepwater situations, subsea processing has become a viable solution for fields located in harsh conditions where processing equipment on the water’s surface might be at risk. Additionally, subsea processing is an emergent application to increase production from mature or marginal fields.” In continuing that… “The main types of subsea processing include subsea water removal and re-injection or disposal, single-phase and multi-phase boosting of well fluids, sand and solid separation, gas/liquid separation and boosting, and gas treatment and compression”; Rigzone confirms that this is an eclectic activity with commensurately complex equipment that will need to be maintained to the usual high standards.

Subsea process systems can separate oil, water and gas fractions on the seabed and include a number of technologies for separation pumping and compression

It’s in the Pipeline All of the equipment listed so far plays its role in the oil and gas production process but some might say that the most important equipment is that which delivers the product to each stage and then carries it away to the next place. Pipes might easily be dismissed as… well, just pipes; but the pipework and pipelines within an offshore subsea oilfield and that connect it to the wider world are a lot more complex pieces of engineering than that. PetroMin Pipeliner16 sums it up; “Unlike an onshore pipeline, a deepwater pipeline usually consists of more than just steel pipe, some valves and several compressor stations. A deepwater pipeline is often attached at each end to a structure called a PLET (‘Pipeline End Termination’). The PLET is

connected to other components of the subsea development, such as a wellhead manifold, subsea tree or a riser base, by a secondary pipe structure called a jumper. The pipeline, often referred to as a flowline, may be a either a flexible composite structure or a rigid steel pipe.” Such an array of processes and equipment require a robust management system to ensure that they function as effectively as possible at all times, that potential failures are caught before they manifest as problems and that, in the last resort, repairs are conducted quickly to a high standard. That’s where IRM enters the equation.

www.harkandgroup.com

www.offshoretechnologyreports.com | 11


SPECIAL REPORT: HIGH PERFORMANCE SUBSEA IRM AND DIVING SUPPORT SERVICES

Maintaining Standards… John Hancock, Editor

…and maintaining equipment and systems delivering output from offshore subsea fields

Equipment that isn’t working isn’t generating revenue. As importantly, in a process, when one piece of equipment fails, the whole process fails

Why IRM? In any process where costly and complex equipment is used, a key priority will be to avoid failure because equipment that isn’t working isn’t generating revenue. As importantly, in a process, when one piece of equipment fails, the whole process fails. This is just one of a number of reasons why access to a reliable and effective inspection, repair and maintenance (IRM) service is a critical component for the management of any offshore subsea energy installation.

Safety and Efficiency Whatever the industry in question, safety has to be a principal concern; in an industry, such as offshore energy, with such massive potential to harm both the people who work in it, the immediate environment in which it operates and the wider locale, safety has to be the principal concern. It is best achieved through assured mechanical and materials integrity which requires adherence to a prescribed maintenance schedule, routine monitoring of the equipment’s condition and the means to rectify any faults with a repair whose integrity is equal to the original manufactured standard. Along with safety, corporate responsibility and reputational value are these days very important to any business and especially so to businesses engaged in extracting carbon fuels from finite reserves in environmentally sensitive areas such as the oceans. However, it isn’t only the safety of a process and the reputation of a business that will benefit from regular IRM attention. The efficiency with which the process operates will be enhanced if the equipment is working at optimum performance. That equals profit and, again, can only be assured if maintenance schedules are adhered to, condition of the equipment is monitored and any repairs are carried out to the highest standard.

Life Extension While preventing or dealing expeditiously with failures reaps enormous rewards in the day-

12 | www.offshoretechnologyreports.com

to-day operation of equipment, there is also a longer-term logic at work. Most equipment has a ‘design life’, the period of operation or number of operations for which the designer and manufacturer anticipated the equipment having to function. Today, with operators seeking to extend the working life of equipment to further exploit a reserve or to exploit a reserve that would not be viable if a separate infrastructure had to be built, much equipment is being operated well beyond its design life. That is achievable; but there are conditions. In the Journal of Petroleum Technology article ‘Offshore Oil and Gas Installation – Aging and Life Extension’17 the author explains that, “In the end-of-life stage, the safe operating limits for the equipment are approaching, advanced inspection techniques are required at closer intervals to determine fitness for purpose, major repairs are required, and there is accelerating deterioration. The key to longer-term reliability and safety is to establish effective management systems early on to prolong the mature stage, because starting at later stages requires considerably more effort and cost.” In other words, look after the equipment properly when it is at its peak operational stage and it will remain efficient and usable for longer.

IRM Equipment and Systems We have established that the processes of extracting product from reserves far beneath a seabed, itself far below the ocean’s surface, or of establishing wind wave or tidal generators in oceanic conditions, are activities requiring an extensive array of complex and expensive equipment. In much the same way, performing inspection repair and maintenance (IRM) operations on that equipment utilises commensurately complex equipment and sophisticated systems.

Air Diving The simplest system used for IRM operations (the term is relative in this context; nothing is really simple) is known as air diving. It is a type


SPECIAL REPORT: HIGH PERFORMANCE SUBSEA IRM AND DIVING SUPPORT SERVICES

The key to longer-term reliability and safety is to establish effective management systems early on to prolong the mature stage, because starting at later stages requires considerably more effort and cost

of diving in which the divers’ breathing medium is a normal atmospheric mixture of oxygen and nitrogen. Air diving is limited to depths of 190 feet (58 meters) so will be suitable for operations on semi-submersible or anchored floating structures or in shallower waters. However, even at these depths, it will be necessary for a diver returning from the work area to the surface to undergo a period of decompression. For operations in UK waters the UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has established

maximum ‘bottom’ times for divers to be at the workplace according to the depth and the method used to transfer them from and to the surface18. While air diving might be suitable for a single and fairly short job, the need to schedule in decompression time as part of every working day will eat into the diver’s productivity.

Saturation Diving The solution for divers who need to work at depths greater than air diving will allow is saturation diving which, “… acquires its name when divers are housed in steel cylindrical chambers pressurised to the depth at which they are working. The nitrogen in the air they breathe is replaced by helium, this affects the divers larynx and [his] voice, becomes squeaky, his body is saturated by the helium gas, hence the name ‘Saturation’ Diving. Divers… live… in a combination of linked pressurised chambers on board a Dive [Support] Vessel (DSV) for up to 28 consecutive days. [It is] From here, that they are transported to and from the worksite in a Diving Bell... pressurised to the same depth as the chambers [and worksite]...”19

ROVs For operations where even saturation diving is not the optimum solution, IRM operators will use remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) to carry out intricate tasks in difficult conditions. Both diving operations and the running of ROVs are conducted from specialist support vessels, themselves sophisticated and expensive pieces of equipment. However, it is with this assembly of equipment and techniques that IRM operations can be used to both ensure the safe and efficient operation of equipment and carry out maintenance to a standard that will allow operation beyond design life, should that be necessary.

www.harkandgroup.com

www.offshoretechnologyreports.com | 13


SPECIAL REPORT: HIGH PERFORMANCE SUBSEA IRM AND DIVING SUPPORT SERVICES

References: 1

 Oilfield Wiki http://www.oilfieldwiki.com/wiki/Subsea

2

Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subsea_%28technology%29

3

Jason Waldie at the ‘Subsea Asia Conference’, Kuala Lumpur

http://www.subseauk.com/documents/subsea%20asia%20-%20jason%20waldie.pdf 4

RINA, ‘Marine & Offshore Renewable Energy’ http://www.rina.org.uk/renewable2010

5

RegenSW http://www.regensw.co.uk/projects/offshore-renewables/offshore-wind-

6

Infield Systems, ‘Subsea Oil and Gas Sector Set For 14.8% CAGR Growth To 2017’ http://www.infield.com/news/subsea-oil-gas-sector-growth-2017

7

Jason Waldie at the ‘Subsea Asia Conference’, Kuala Lumpur

http://www.subseauk.com/documents/subsea%20asia%20-%20jason%20waldie.pdf 8

Stork Technical Services, ‘Subsea IRM Market’ http://www.storktechnicalservices.com/en/markets/subsea/

9

The Journal of Petroleum Technology http://www.mydigitalpublication.com/article/ Offshore+Oil+and+Gas+Installation%E2%80%94Aging+and+Life+Extension/951953/0/article.html

10

Subsea Well Intervention Market Report to 2017 http://www.infield.com/market-forecast-reports/subsea-well-intervention-market-report

11

Lloyd’s Register report ‘FPSO Inspection Repair & Maintenance, Study into Best Practice’

http://www.oilandgasuk.co.uk/cmsfiles/modules/publications/pdfs/OP033.pdf 12

Offshore Magazine ‘Subsea processing – the gamechanger’

http://www.offshore-mag.com/articles/print/volume-63/issue-11/technology/subsea-processing-ndash-the-gamechanger.html 13

Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subsea_%28technology%29

14

Offshore Technology ‘The Subsea Processing Promise’ http://www.offshore-technology.com/features/feature1412/

15

Rigzone http://www.rigzone.com/training/insight_pf.asp?i_id=327

16

PetroMin Pipeliner, ‘Deepwater Pipeline Management – Problems and Solutions’, http://www.pm-pipeliner.safan.com/mag/ppl0412/t58.pdf

17

The Journal of Petroleum Technology

http://www.mydigitalpublication.com/article/Offshore+Oil+and+Gas+Installation%E2%80%94Aging+and+Life+Extension/951953/0/article.html 18

UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE), Exposure limits for air diving operations http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/dvis5.htm

14 | www.offshoretechnologyreports.com


Offshore Technology Reports… the leading specialist combined online research and networking resource for senior upstream oil and gas industry professionals.

• Up to the minute Industry and Technology information available to all site users on a free of charge open access basis. • Qualified signed up members are able to access premium content Special Reports and interact with their peers using a variety of advanced online networking tools. • Designed to help users identify new technical solutions, understand the implications of different technical choices and select the best solutions available. • Thought Leadership – Advice and guidance from internationally recognised upstream oil and gas key opinion leaders. • Peer Input – Contributions from senior upstream oil and gas industry professionals. • Independent Editorial Content – Expert and authoritative analysis from award winning journalists and leading industry commentators. •

Unbiased Supplier Provided Content.

Designed to facilitate debate.

Written to the highest professional standards

Visit http://www.offshoretechnologyreports.com/



Special Report – High Performance Subsea IRM and Diving Support Services Harkland eZine