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  • Periodic Report Summary 1 - SUBCTESTDEMO (Development of novel Non Destructive Testing (NDT) techniques and autonomous robots to be deployed by Remote Operating Vehicles for the sub-sea inspection of offshore structure welds - DEMOnstration)

Periodic Report Summary 1 - SUBCTESTDEMO (Development of novel Non Destructive Testing (NDT) techniques and autonomous robots to be deployed by Remote Operating Vehicles for the sub-sea inspection of offshore structure welds - DEMOnstration)

Project Context and Objectives:
The SubCTest Demo project will implement the technology demonstrated at the end of the preceding Research for SMEs project SubCTest. The purpose of the SubCTest Demo project is to further accelerate the pace of the technologies towards commercial maturity. The original project SubCTest, ‘Development of novel Non Destructive Testing (NDT) techniques and autonomous robots to be deployed by Remote Operating Vehicles (ROVs) for the sub-sea inspection of offshore structure welds’ was submitted in the call FP7-BSG-SME and received the grant agreement number 222174. This project was a two year project sponsored by the European Commission under the Seventh Framework (FP7) Research for the benefit of SMEs that started 1 September 2008 and completed in October 2010. This SubCTest Demo project has been conceived by the SMEs with the intention to exploit a new market with the potential for huge growth – NDT for off-shore subsea structures using the Subtest System at depths up to 100 meters. The SubCTest Demo project will allow the SMEs to demonstrate and validate their system for the purposes of establishing a lead in this emerging market and, in addition, provide NDT services and components to oil/platform operators and potentially to the offshore wind turbine sector. The SMEs will draw upon their in house development capabilities and call upon the support of one of the participating research organisations, which was involved in the preceding SubCTest project. The developments provided by SubCTest demo project, will deal with the threat of advanced NDT inspection systems for subsea structures, arriving from outside of Europe, resulting in diminishing revenues for EU.

The original SubCTest project developed equipment for deploying two NDT techniques from an observation class ROV. These were:-

• An Alternating Current Field Measurement (ACFM) sensor and technique that could be deployed by a robot around a node weld in a single pass, without the problems associated with current ACFM sensors when scanning complex weld geometries.
• A high resolution Long Range Ultrasonic Testing (LRUT) technique, currently used to detect corrosion in pipes, that can be used to detect defects in pipe welds and other tubular sections.

Prototype equipment was built and demonstrated on an observation class ROV in a tank.

The follow-on project, SubCTest Demo, will demonstrate a robust operational NDT system that will reliably detect and evaluate discontinuities in pipes, risers and tubular structural components, including the welds. The demonstration will take place with the system working from a work class ROV at the Underwater Centre in Loch Linnhe, Scotland. LRUT will be used to detect, locate and qualitatively assess the indications over distances of tens of metres either side the test site. Ultrasonic testing (UT) using Electro magnetic Acoustic Transducers (EMATs) will be used to evaluate, size and quantitatively assess discontinuities detected by LRUT. Validation of the EMAT and LRUT manipulator systems (scanning and clamping respectively) will be demonstrated and analysis of the achieved accuracy will be conducted. Validation procedures will test both the reliability and robustness of the NDT system within prescribed underwater pipes or structures.

Project Results:
In this period (01/10/2014 to 30/06/2015), in line with the DOW, a number of tasks were undertaken and reported. In WP1, the specific installation requirements were identified and reported in deliverable D1.1. In addition, a feasibility study was conducted to demonstrate the cost-benefit of the inspection of subsea pipes using Long Range Ultrasonic Guided Waves (LRUG) and Electromagnetic Acoustic Transducers (EMAT), along with a comparative evaluation of the performance of the collar system deployed using ROV with that of conventional inspection.

Cost / benefit analysis demonstrated that the application of conventional diver-deployed inspection of subsea pipes is highly accident/risk prone and it is likely that diver operations will be banned completely in the N.Sea oil and gas fields in the near future. The benefits of ROV deployed collar system however, must be fully demonstrated to potential clients. To this end an ‘Observer Group’ of oil industry majors and primary contractors has been established for the project. Additional benefits of using an ROV deployed NDT system include greater efficiency; the LRUT technique is able to inspect tens of metres of pipe or tubular structure from one location and higher defect sensitivity; the LRUT technique is able to detect defects of cross sectional area as small as 9% of pipe cross-sectional area with 95% reliability. This will significantly mitigate against the risk of failure. The addition of an EMAT to evaluate indications detected by the LRUT with a high resolution bulk wave ultrasonic technique provides an additional capability. The evaluation will include local sizing information, which can be fed directly into an engineering critical assessment of the defects.

If the high cost of potential failure is factored into the calculation, the cost benefit model looks very much more favourable; more costly and functionally comprehensive systems begin to look feasible.

In WP2, the validation tools for the final demonstration were investigated. Laboratory work was performed on environmental data from the final demonstration site at the Underwater Centre, but data has yet to be acquired in respect of the subsea environment, which will be carried out at the end of the project. The analysis of this laboratory data gave a good indication of the capacity that one could expect from any specific site. A software package was also developed which acquires data from the complementary LRU and EMAT sensors, manages it and provides analysis of the generated data (data integration into the SubCTest software). These are discussed in deliverable D2.1 and D2.2.

In WP3, deliverables D3.1, D3.2 and D3.3, defined the procedures for the installation of the SubCTest system, based on the operational parameters as they were assessed at the final demonstration site. Importantly, an initial analysis and study of the subsea pipes and their failure modes was made. This is an essential requirement as this forms a baseline to monitor structural deviations ie the onset of cracks, corrosion and other defects, thereby instigating repair or renovation work to avoid long periods of downtime and catastrophic failure.

In respect of WP4, though no deliverables were due in this reporting period, a number of activities (tasks) have taken place. This WP is the heart of the SubcTest-Demo project. It is here that the output of the previous WPs culminates with the installation and validation; for example the instruction sets developed in WP3 for retro-fitting sensor will be utilised to physically mount the sensor on the collar. This work is currently ongoing and will be reported at the next period.

The other areas of activity were in WP5 and WP6. In WP5, a project website (D5.5) was designed and is fully functional, with a private area for the consortium member information and facility to upload reports etc, and a public area where progress, workshops and other public information relevant to the project can be found. In D5.2, an interim plan for the use and dissemination of foreground (PUDF) know-how and the route to exploitation is given and also how the PUDF will be managed. In D5.1 we report the market review and strategy.

Finally as part of the WP6 activity, we have delivered ‘Administrative Management Manual’ (D6.1), ‘The consortium Agreement’ (D6.3), ‘Minutes and attendance at meetings’ (D6.4) and the work on progress monitoring, administration and reporting goes on as an ongoing activity.

Potential Impact:
The importance of the subsea pipelines on the offshore industry is becoming more and more relevant because it is the most effective method to transport oil/gas from the offshore platforms and the number of subsea pipelines is getting bigger year by year. In line with this increment, the biggest numbers of reported offshore failures are focused on them.

Corrosion is the most important cause of failure in subsea pipelines and it will depend on the size of the pipeline and its localization. The highest number of subsea pipelines failures is reported in oil pipelines. However, most of these corrosion failures can be repaired if there are detected well in advance.

Using the LRUG and EMAT NDT technologies, the SubcTest-Demo system will detect the corrosion and material damages on the subsea pipelines and predict the likelihood of future failures well in advance. This situation will allow the generation of well detailed maintenance and prevention plans, reducing/avoiding the necessity of unscheduled activities and raising up the Mean Time Between Failure (MTBF) and lowering down the Mean Time To Recover (MTTR) values of the overall offshore platform/structure. That means all associated maintenance and prevention costs will strongly reduce.

Additionally, the prediction capability will directly impact on the spare materials management (warehouse) and will drastically reduce the lack of production, down times of the offshore platforms/structures, pollution and its associated penalties and legal responsibilities, etc. In other words, the increment of the production revenue will be significantly higher than the actual cost of the NDT system.

The installation of the SubcTest-emo system on the ROV will allow performing NDT inspections on several pipelines and tubular sections using the same system which is fully controlled from surface by well trained operators.

The integration of an EMAT generated high resolution bulk-wave ultrasonic technique with the LRUT guided wave ultrasonic technique will lead to an important advance in the area of LRUT inspection on land as well as subsea. The inability of LRUT to evaluate flaws and defects thoroughly is a limitation of the method. In SubCTest, the LRUT will locate the flaw or defect at distances of up to several tens of metres either side of the transducer collar. The SubCTest clamping system will then be moved to the defect location and the EMAT deployed from the same clamp to evaluate the defect in detail.

The successful application of the SubCTest system on piplines will lead to its further development for other tubular structures such as ‘Risers’, caissons and jacket legs. Moreover there is the possibility of deployment on offshore wind turbine monopiles, where there are known to be substantial numbers of defects.

With regard to the impact on the individual partners, SubCTest will provide Dacon with a new capability to add to its current ROV and robot deployed activities. Innotech already has a reputation for innovative robot design and SubCTest will add a subsea dimension to this. Nardoni have several years experience in the use of LRUT to inspect on-shore pipelines, including those used in district heating systems. Nardoni will now be able to exploit its expertise subsea. iKnowHow present significant technical expertise in the Condion Monitoring (CM) sector where they commercialise Graphical User Interfaces (GUI) for CM systems; the SubCTestDemo project will allow them to enter the rapidly growing market of subsea NDT inspection.

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