A new piece of technology which delivers vital nitrogen supplies to platforms, vessels and onshore worksites – by refining the gas from the atmosphere – has been developed, tested and deployed in the North Sea.
Certified for safe use in ATEX Zone 1 hazardous areas, the Nitrogas unit has been developed by Aberdeen-based E Innovation in conjunction with a major operator.
The unit has already been deployed in the UKCS, removing a long-standing reliance on expensive, sea conditions-dependent bottled gas deliveries.
The technology has already achieved savings of more than 65% compared to traditional nitrogen delivery methods – in financial terms, that equates to £120,000 saved within a 30-day project, according to the developers.
The Nitrogas unit’s onboard software and filtering systems manufacture nitrogen by removing oxygen from the air, before pumping it directly into platform infrastructure or for storage at the worksite for future use.
The mobile unit, the same size as a domestic fridge, replaces cumbersome traditional quads – which are the size of an offshore shipping container, and need to be regularly replenished – in a significantly reduced footprint, saving vital deck space offshore.
The unit also dispenses with trailing lines and cabling used in traditional methods, as it can be placed directly at the workface.
“Technology to drive down costs, increase efficiency and reduce HSE issues is high on the agenda of all operators in the energy industry, and our focus is always on developing new ways to improve safety performance while reducing cost,” said E Innovation chief executive Kevin O’Connor.
“What is crucial is that there is no risk of a reduction in gas quality – Nitrogas delivers nitrogen at up to 99% purity, while controlling the dew point and flow rate. It completely removes the need for repeated deliveries of new quads.
“Nitrogen delivered by the system is used for testing on pressurised pipelines and other crucial parts of an asset being checked for leaks, or for storage at the location.
“Quads are difficult to manoeuvre, and as they have to be shipped introduce a potentially show-stopping logistics issue when weather conditions prevent vessels from travelling to the platform – delaying work completions and affecting the bottom line.”
Nitrogas was developed to build on the success of E Innovation’s ATEX Zone 1 breathing air system, which delivers hospital quality air to those working in hazardous environments. That system completely removes the risk of carcinogens being inhaled by people at the worksite.