Energy, defence, valve, oceanographic and marine science businesses have been among the first to use Balmoral’s new, £20 million subsea test centre in Aberdeen.
Fraser Milne, engineering and projects director at Balmoral, reported “good third-party uptake” of the facility, which Balmoral also uses for testing its own gear.
Its submersion tanks were recently used to put a new cutting and sealing tool for the decommissioning sector through its paces.
The tool was designed by Accrington-based Allspeeds, which was awarded a contract by Chevron to develop an environmentally friendly intervention tool (FIT) for subsea pipeline decommissioning work.
The device cuts and seals pipework to prevent contamination at sea. The pipeline is lifted from the seabed and secured to the tool. It is then crimped in two places either side of the cutting point to create a cavity without rupturing the pipe wall.
The pipe is then pierced between the two crimped sections to prevent any escape of contaminants and a sealant is injected to create a plug.
Finally, the pipe is cut through the sealed section creating an additional crimp point and separating the pipe into two pieces.
The pipe ends are now fully sealed with the crimps preventing any release of pollutants.
When the FIT operations have concluded the tool is removed topside, reset and positioned further along the pipe to repeat at pre-designated lengths creating practical sections of pipe for surface recovery.
Rory McGarry, technical director with Allspeeds, said: “We were delighted with the way the tool performed under test conditions and with Balmoral’s facilities and engineering support.”
Test house manager at Balmoral, Derek Weir, said: “This was a complex procedure which involved a number of tests. I believe this demonstrates the flexibility and capabilities of our facility which are now being widely used by the oil and gas, renewables, oceanographic, defence and valve production sectors.”
With the FIT successfully completing rigorous testing at the Balmoral Subsea Test Centre in Aberdeen, Allspeeds is proceeding to full manufacture of production versions.