Integrity management strategy for subsea umbilical riser and flowline (SURF) systems

10th August 2012

A joint industry project, entitled SURF IM, that aims to enable an integrated approach to integrity management of subsea, umbilical, riser and flowline (SURF) systems, and develop new best practice guidelines for subsea integrity management is underway. Wood Group Kenny are leading the project, which has support from twelve of the world’s leading international operators secured with assistance from ITF, the technology facilitator for the global oil and gas industry. The project is due to be concluded in December 2012.

As the industry evolves towards an increasing number of deepwater developments, exploited through remote and long distance subsea tiebacks and subsea processing systems, production will become increasingly reliant on SURF system integrity. A cost-effective integrity management strategy has to define and implement the optimum levels of inspection and monitoring required to reliably assess the system’s integrity, but this can only be achieved with a good understanding of possible failure mechanisms and the availability of appropriate deepwater inspection and monitoring technology.

Wood Group Kenny director Patrick O’Brien explains: “What this project is working towards is an integrity management strategy that is aligned with the pace of SURF system technology development and use. We set out to take an integrated, life cycle approach and apply a consistent methodology, starting with a review of experience with systems in operation which includes classification of failure modes and mechanisms.”

SURF IM project manager Adriana Botto from Wood Group Integrity Management, a Wood Group Kenny business, added: “We are also reviewing existing subsea inspection and condition monitoring technologies as well as those under development, and identifying technology needs for detection and prediction of subsea equipment failures. It’s generally accepted that subsea inspection technology lags behind capability for topside and onshore systems, and this is especially true when it comes to fault-finding capability for evident and incipient failures and non-destructive testing techniques. We hope that a major benefit of this project will be identification of areas requiring additional development and provision of a road map to bridge the gaps between the current status of technology and the desired performance specification.”

She continued: “A particularly innovative aspect of the project, added to the initial scope at the request of participants, relates to subsea boosting and injection equipment integrity. The aim is to identify failure modes associated with subsea boosting and injection systems and the enabling technologies such as subsea controls, subsea power distribution, structural and mechanical designs and flow assurance technologies”.

Wood Group Kenny say that the information gathered will be used to develop a systematic approach to mapping failure modes and mechanisms of all subsea equipment (subsea structures, umbilicals, risers, flowlines, xmas trees and subsea control systems) onto a subsea integrity management system, taking the project life cycle from design to decommissioning into account, and that this will enable a more predictive and risk-based, rather than reactive, approach to integrity management.

Project participants recently congregated in Aberdeen over a three day period to hear about the project’s progress, and provide direction for its future development.

Commenting on the project ITF’s technology manager Keith Mackie said: “The large number of project participants illustrates the value of this work to the industry. It’s a great example of collaborative working with input being sought from a range of subsea integrity industry players to ensure that the output is representative of the current status of subsea integrity in the industry as a whole. For example a SURF IM project workshop was recently held in Oslo at which subsea boosting suppliers were invited to present current technology developments and needs for subsea inspection and condition monitoring, so I believe the knowledge sharing aspect of this project is particularly valuable”.

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