Creating added value through collaboration

/ September 27, 2017

The Background

SMS were contacted by our longstanding UK SNS Client, to aid them with a field-wide, long-term pressure reduction campaign. They planned to ramp up production rates across multiple aging assets, subsequently increasing the risk of erosion to topside facilities from the increased flowing velocities.

SMS collaborated with monitoring specialist, Permasense, to offer a solution which provided real-time assurance of pipeline wall integrity at high-risk locations, on unmanned assets, integrated by SMS such that the data could be interrogated, reviewed, logged, and trended remotely.    

As increased production was the goal of the overall project, having the Real-Time UT Wall Thickness Sensors installed ensured the production increase was managed safely. Having the real-time erosion data at hand provided confidence in the locations integrity and allowed the operator to keep producing at the new increased production levels.

The Challenge

This production uplift was planned on mature reservoirs with aging assets and high potential of sand production. Therefore, as the wells were ramped up there was a high probability that the current sand issues would get worse, increase the threat of erosion to the topside facilities.

The historical method of retrieving wall thickness data was to firstly assign an inspection frequency to each line based on its risk ranking. Once this frequency was decided upon, it was then assigned to the Inspection team to close out. They would then schedule the line into their planned work scope for the limited time they had on the platform. Note, this time was often limited with the unpredictable North Sea weather so it’s not uncommon for locations to be deferred.

However, the “hot spot” locations were deemed so high-risk their integrity had to be confirmed. This would have involved mobilising inspection teams to the main hub then to the NUI, creating vast additional costs. This would have eventually become uneconomical with no guarantee that the inspection team would even be able to fully inspect the locations.

The Operator therefore sought support from SMS to provide a solution to the following;

  1. Support production uplift - Provide assurances against any erosion associated with ramping up production.
  2. Reduce costs - Potential velocity or “erosion hotspots” where identified that required additional management. Being NUIs there was no method of managing these locations without costly flights and support from the inspection team who already were overstretched.
  3. Increase safety - They also needed to protect their business interests as an LOC on either of these platforms would have resulted in a serious HSE issue and lost production from several fields.

The Solution

SMS have a project engineer based inhouse at the Operator providing integrity engineering and sand management which has greatly helped our understanding of the project specific requirements. This coupled up with our long history of successful project delivery for this client provided us with excellent knowledge and experience of the asset, which provided the Operator with the confidence that SMS would be able to source the best possible solution.

To reduce the number of offshore visits and to provide the real time, accurate date required to provide integrity assurances during the ramp up campaign SMS collaborated with Integrity Monitoring Specialists, Permasense. SMS have an ongoing strategic relationship, Permasense which enables us to integrate their real-time wall thickness monitoring expertise with our existing portfolio of integrated flow assurance packages

SMS identified the Permasense Real Time UT Non-Intrusive monitoring system as the ideal solution as we could permanently install the sensors on the identified “erosion hotspots” and they would provide real time, reliable wall loss data as required. SMS Specialists therefore worked closely with their Permasense counterparts to design the bespoke system which they both installed and integrated together. Vitally for the work scope, by working collaboratively, sharing knowledge and experiences they were able to establish remote integration with the main hub SCADA.

This knowledge transfer between the engineers meant the system proposed fulfilled the expectations. The client was able proceed with their production uplift, with the assurances that the real-time integrity monitoring system would alert them to any threats from solids production or corrosion based damage mechanisms.

The Benefits

The SMS and Permasense solution saw Real Time UT Wall Thickness Sensors permanently installed on the high-risk areas, meaning we were able to review and report on the data remotely, without having to mobilise an engineer to the platform. This allowed savings on all associated costs of mobilising personnel and removed the need to place personnel at areas deemed high-risk of erosion. Moreover, as that the UT Sensors were permanently installed, the operator was being provided real time, highly accurate data which would allow them to make better informed decisions.

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Support production uplift, having the Real-Time UT Sensors installed on the NUI platform provided the operator with the assurances that they could ramp up to the required production rates, safe in the knowledge that the integrity of the asset would not be under threat.

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Cost reduction, having the Real-Time UT Wall Thickness Sensors permanently installed reduced the requirement for offshore personnel, saving on costs involved with mobilising engineers to the usually unmanned platforms. The data could now be monitored remotely allowing for quicker, better informed decisions.

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Increased safety, having the sensors permanently installed on the identified high-risk areas has reduced the need to send personnel to inspect potentially dangerous areas. It also provided real time alarming for any erosional threats, allowing the operator to take immediate actions to prevent any LOC’s.

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