A global initiative to promote shared knowledge of flexible pipe in the subsea sector is being hailed a success.
The Flexible Network Forum (FNF) has been set up by subsea engineering company MCS in a bid to promote shared learning and generate cross-company relationships in the subsea engineering community.
The second FNF to share lessons learned between the North Sea and Australia was held in March in Perth and attracted almost 30 participants from AGR, Apache, Coogee Resources, Santos, Trident and Woodside, as well as the Department of Industry and Resources and the UK’s Industry Technology Facilitator.
“The purpose is to share and disseminate knowledge, ideas, experience and technology among companies so that the industry can ensure pipe integrity while also looking at how the life of pipe can be extended,” MCS director in Perth, Enda O’Sullivan, told Energy.
“This is the second forum we have held, and we have achieved true global sharing of lessons learned. We are planning to build on this with a strong focus on learning, from not just our local markets but from the flexible pipe industry internationally. To this end, we are exploring the possibility of hosting an FNF in Rio, Brazil.”
Tim O’Sullivan, managing director for MCS in the UK, spoke at the Perth event on recent North Sea experience of repairing and monitoring flexibles. Sylvain Lyonnet, of Woodside Petroleum, presented the Cossack Pioneer (CWLH) Flexible Pipe Life Extension Initiative.
In Australia, there is a long tradition of innovation in the use of floating production systems. The classical solution adopts unbonded flexible pipe to enable floating facilities to produce in relatively shallow waters. While unbonded flexible pipe is a reliable technology that has been in use for more than 30 years, damage and ultimately failure can occur during manufacturing and testing, installation and early operation, as well as in later life.
Accurate assessments of historical records of flexible pipe usage have led to an increased understanding of the potential reasons for failure and the development of operating strategies and procedures to avoid incidents.
O’Sullivan: “Techniques for the inspection and monitoring of flexible pipe, including conventional general visual inspection (GVI) techniques, are widely available and technologies are being developed which reduce the need for GVI when part of an integrity management strategy.
“As we are leading the way in this field, we believe the forum will allow for more constructive pan-industry conversations on the whole issue of integrity.
“Given the advances in understanding of complex flexible pipe inter-layer behaviour, we want to examine how the correct mix of inspection and assessment tools and procedures can allow the operator to reuse and redeploy flexible pipes to alternative fields and functions and extend design life.”
The Flexible Network Forum was originally set up in Aberdeen more than two years ago to facilitate open discussion and sharing of lessons learned in the flexible pipe industry and has involved operators, contractors, manufacturers, suppliers and regulatory bodies across the North Sea oil&gas industry.
This year, that same forum is offering a comprehensive agenda for flexible pipe technology, including updates on flexible pipe industry research findings and current projects, inspection technology advances, damaged riser repair techniques and the latest technical paper, The Systematic Appraisal of the Thrulife Integrity and Life Extension of Deepwater Subsea Systems.
Thus far, the initiative has held meetings in April, plus a pipeline inspection technology event in May. The last mentioned was co-hosted by Qserv and MCS.
Another forum meeting is diaried for November, again in Aberdeen, plus a site visit to Subsea 7 has been arranged when the company will demonstrate riser inspection and repair capabilities utilising the latest ROV technology.
For its part, Scottish-Irish group MCS has been involved in more than 90% of the UK North Sea’s FPSO projects involving flexible pipe. With more than a decade of experience in developing and implementing integrity management strategies for flexible and rigid pipe subsea systems in the North Sea and internationally, the company has also been involved in writing the industry guidelines on flexible pipe integrity management.
The company is currently leading a flexible pipe technology JIP that, towards the end of this year, will result in new and significantly improved API (American Petroleum Institute) standards for the specification, design, testing and manufacture of flexible pipe in the industry.
This should ultimately facilitate much improved integrity and the wider use of flexible pipe into the future. This extensive experience has positioned it as leading expert in integrity management strategies for subsea systems.