An industry survey by the Oil & Gas Technology Centre and ABB found that adopting non-intrusive technology could deliver increased production and lower maintenance costs worth up to £242 million per year to the UKCS.
Most North Sea operators utilise intrusive inspection techniques to assess the condition of process vessels and tanks and ensure safe operations. This requires shutting down the platform and personnel entering the vessel to carry out a manual inspection. This results in significant lost production and people entering a confined space is potentially hazardous.
Recent advances in non-intrusive inspection (NII) technology mean it is now possible, in many instances, to effectively assess the internal condition of the vessel without a shutdown or sending personnel into the vessel.
Key findings from the survey include:
Adopting NII could deliver increased production and lower maintenance costs worth circa £242 million per year to the UKCS.
The use of NII on the UKCS is limited, with some operators currently making no use of the available technology.
Potentially, up to 80% of vessels could be examined non-intrusively, without requiring a shutdown.
Improved safety with up to 80% fewer confined space entries required, with a corresponding reduction in the number of line breaks and subsequent leak tests.
A 33% reduction in turnaround durations have been achieved.
Overall cost savings of up to 80% compared to inspections that involve entry into a vessel.
The Centre has collaborated with Total E&P UK to conduct early field trials of NII technologies on North Sea assets. The aim of the project is to identify ways to reduce confined space entries, reduce cost and maximise economic recovery.
Rebecca Allison, Asset Integrity Solution Centre Manager at the Oil & Gas Technology Centre, said:
“NII provides a real opportunity to improve the competitiveness of the UK North Sea and help maximise economic recovery. One of our key objectives is to eliminate vessel entry for inspection by 2026 and NII is critical to delivering this. We’re working with industry partners to demonstrate that the significant safety and costs benefits outlined in the survey can be achieved.
“We hope this survey and recent field trials will help break down the barriers to implementing NII and spark a technology transformation in offshore inspection techniques.”
Troy Stewart, Head of ABB Service, Oil, Gas & Chemicals in the UK, said:
“Onshore process industries have reaped the benefits of NII for many years, but uptake in UK North Sea has been slow. Operators’ have a significant opportunity to enhance safety for their personnel whilst reducing cost and improving production efficiency. The survey is the first step in changing the mind-set on vessel entry by increasing the adoption of NII in the UKCS.”