Consortium to Audit North Sea NDT Challenge

A consortium of organisations has set out to tackle one of the most enduring challenges in the North Sea: the non-destructive testing (NDT) of corroded pipes under insulation and engineered temporary pipe wraps.

The group, which includes TRAC Oil & Gas, the University of Strathclyde, and CENSIS, the Scottish Innovation Centre for Sensor and Imaging Systems, will methodically audit the tools, capabilities, and approaches currently used by industry to look at the steel surfaces of assets.

After assessing the limits of what is available, the consortium will then explore how improvements can be made, including the development of new techniques for accurately identifying and measuring areas of corrosion. The first phase of the project is a feasibility study, the results of which will be shared with wider industry and its stakeholders, including the Health and Safety Executive.

Bill Brown, technical manager at TRAC Oil & Gas, said: “By taking regular readings on an asset’s condition, we can determine whether they are fit for purpose and operations can keep oil flowing, all within as safe an environment as possible. To do this effectively, we need to take stock of all the technology available, verifying its capabilities and limitations. From there, we’ll be able to look at potential new methods for inspecting the integrity of assets, using non-destructive techniques.”

Dr Gordon Dobie from the University of Strathclyde’s Department of Electronic & Electrical Engineering added: “Working with TRAC’s team, we’re examining what companies currently do to measure wall thickness, repeating it in the lab on specimens, and trying to develop a standardized approach to getting more accurate information from NDT. We’re validating what the instrumentation is saying about the thickness of walls with a view to filling a real and significant gap in the technology already available.”

CENSIS brokered the relationship between TRAC and the University of Strathclyde, and will provide project management support as the initiative progresses.

Rachael Wakefield, business development manager at CENSIS, said: “Being able to accurately analyse corrosion under insulation is the holy grail of NDT. We’ve already learned a great deal from working with TRAC about the technical and economic challenges facing the industry. This project demonstrates that there’s a real opportunity for oil and gas companies to enhance their offering and tackle some of the biggest problems facing the industry – not only in the North Sea, but across the globe.”

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