SETS, a north-east subsea engineering firm has developed a new generation of re-usable, environmentally neutral subsea mats.
Available in the UK for the first time, the mats are meant to eliminate the use of permanent concrete mattresses to land equipment on during subsea operations and can also be used as a seabed working platform.
The new mats, which consist of an aluminium or stainless steel frame and a canvas covering, are manufactured by SETS’ sister company, PDL, based in Derry, Northern Ireland. The mats, weighting 47kg in air and 30kg in water, are placed and removed within minutes and do not harm the seabed or sea environment during use. Consisting of a 2 x 4m aluminium frame and canvas, each mat is capable of spreading a 10 tonne load.
Sharon Tierney, SETS/PDL Aberdeen Manager, said: “Our project teams identified the need for a more easily transportable mat which can be removed from the seabed rather than left behind after a project has finished. We have been working on these alongside our sister company, PDL, for quite some time to ensure we have a product which is environmentally neutral and more cost effective to transport and install. Whilst concrete mats play an important role in subsea workscopes, the new SETS mats are easily stored and handled onboard a vessel and can be overboarded and in place subsea in a short space of time, saving operators time and money. The mats are easily removed and re-used, leaving no seabed footprint or debris.
“The mats are strong enough to spread a 10 tonne load, and can be joined together if necessary. The mats can be used to land equipment on, keeping tooling mud free and removing suction loads, or used as a safe working platform for divers within a muddy seabed.
“With health, safety and the environment central to all subsea engineering projects, the re-usable mats are a major advancement in subsea equipment”.
Neil Gordon, chief executive of Subsea UK, said: “Research and development in the subsea sector are critical if we are to retain our world-leading position and the development of new technology by SMEs such as SETS is a vital part of this. These companies are the innovators who will drive our sector forward by developing game-changing technology that will find ways of working more safely while reducing environmental impact and enabling enhanced oil recovery and prolonging the life of a field.
“British subsea technology and skills, honed over decades of operations in the North Sea, continue to be in demand all over the world. Our sector, which currently generates around £9billion per annum, can only stay ahead of increasing global competition however if we continue to innovate and I welcome today’s announcement by SETS as a further example of our reputation to do so.”
SETS managing director, Chris Tierney, said: “We are paving the way for a new approach to subsea engineering. IRM and construction projects need to consider long-term environmental and project costs and leaving concrete constructions at the bottom of the sea can now be avoided in part. The new mats are part of an integrated project management approach from field development through to decommissioning. Subsea engineering has changed, and we are at the forefront of maximising life of field workscopes.”