In the ever-increasing search by oil majors for new fields and with the advent of advanced drilling and extraction technologies, very deep-water offshore fields are now being developed in the Gulf of Mexico, offshore Brazil and offshore West Africa. There have been significant engineering difficulties to overcome to make the development of deep-water offshore fields possible. However, there are still Non-Destructive Testing (NDT) and inspection problems to solve. One such significant concern is the in-service NDT and inspection of the subsea risers, steel catenary risers (SCRs) and subsea flowlines. Once installed in their subsea environment, conventional NDT techniques will be impossible to apply to these components. Although the pipes comprising these components are manufactured and welded to the highest standards, they nevertheless need to be able to operate for 20 years or more without failure. Fatigue analysis shows that the 'start of life' defect size to ensure that failure will not occur is small (in the region of a mm or so through thickness dimension). It is inevitable that some welding defects of that size will go undetected at the manufactured weld NDT and inspection stage. Some parts of the SCRs (particularly in the least accessible seabed region) will be subject to fatigue loading that could ultimately cause premature failure and significant environmental pollution. In this project, guided wave ultrasonic testing developments are proposed that will overcome the limitations of the current technology and greatly increase the applicability and productivity of the technology. These developments will lead to increased business for EU inspection and maintenance SMEs. Recent business trends have seen oil companies outsource their entire inspection and maintenance requirements to specialist service SMEs. This will significantly increase business opportunities for these SMEs.
Fields of science
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