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European consortium reveal details of their underwater radiography inspection system for inspection of flexible risers

An EU collaboration between EU companies and research organisations, known as FlexiRiserTest, has been working to produce an underwater radiography inspection prototype system suitable for the inspection of flexible risers.

This team comprising end users Petrobras, Wellstream, together with research institutes TWI, Zenon, Research Centre Juelich, and SMEs Computerised Information Technology (CIT), TSC Inspection Systems and EuroNDT started developing an underwater digital radiography inspection technology, which has evolved with proof of concept, and prototype construction of the solution. The results are encouraging with the confirmation that the developed flexible riser inspection technology can be applied to real world applications for safety assessment and monitoring. It is believed to be the first time ever that a marinised digital radiograph flat panel detector for underwater inspection has been reported. Usually, film or phosphor plates are used in underwater radiography, but after exposure to radiation it is necessary for such radiographic media to be returned topside for development and processing. A digital detector does not need to be removed in-between individual exposures, a task that would normally be extremely time consuming and costly when operating in a subsea environment. The developed marinised digital detector can rapidly produce digital radiographic images of the riser and relay the results via an umbilical to the topside computer. The partners have also developed a robot crawler to facilitate the underwater radiographic inspection system deployment. The inspection technology has been tested to 20 meters water depth, but the partners in the project are confident that much greater depths would be possible with some further development. The work is as a result of a 2 year European Framework 6 part funded project shared between nine organisations. The project’s elected exploitation manager, CIT, was also involved in developing the technology. CIT is now setting up an NDT inspection team, with support from the other project partners, that will be specialised in conducting underwater inspection tasks for underwater man made structure including umbilical, pipes, and flexible risers.

Keywords

Underwater inspection