JIP to study riser life extensions

Offshore staff

ABERDEEN -- Flexible pipe specialist flexlife has established a Joint Industry Partnership (JIP) to perform research which could help extend the lifespan of critical production equipment.

Among the companies signed up so far to the program are Chevron, the UK Health & Safety Executive, Maersk Oil North Sea, Premier Oil and Technip. They will supply flexible pipes previously used in production in the North Sea.

Flexlife claims this will be one of the most practical programs undertaken to date by the subsea sector. It will provide a comparison between the original design requirements and capabilities and the actual design and service life capacity of 23-year-old unbonded flexible risers. The results should help operators avoid costly and premature change-out of risers.

The JIP will also work to validate numerous Non Destructive Testing techniques, cross-referencing the data compiled with the empirical material characteristics arising from the subsequent pipe dissection. Technologies under consideration include flexlife’s UT (Ultrasound), eddy current and radiography.

Project manager Craig Keyworth said: “The JIP is a unique and unprecedented opportunity to test and deconstruct end of service risers in a controlled environment. In the past, data was based upon predicting likely outcomes but there were never enough older risers to examine to base conclusions on fact and the result was a conservative approach to design, service life and end of life decision making.

“If the outcome of this project proves that we are capable of extending the service life of these risers, there will be a multitude of benefits to the industry, specifically economical and environmental.”

The first batch of risers to be tested came from the Premier-operated Balmoral Floating Production Vessel (FPV) in block 16/21 of the UKCS, which started production in November 1986.

A total of 10 sections (120 m, or 393 ft) were taken from one 8-in. (20-cm) oil export riser and one 4-in. (10-cm) gas-lift riser. Studies will focus on pipe, endfitting and layer/component performance.

The criteria for assessing these areas are covered by the API 17J/ISO13628-2 combined standard January 1, 2009. As part of the study, flexlife is also assessing sections of a `control pipe’’, which is of the same design and which has never been used.

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