Flexlife Completes Major Projects Using New Scanning Technology

Leading flexible pipe specialist flexlife has completed more than £1million of work in the North Sea for a number of operators using its breakthrough patented scanning technology.

Recent work completed included scanning a number of risers on the Balmoral platform acquired by Premier Oil from Oilexco.

It followed on from projects undertaken for Hess and StatoilHydro in the UK and Norwegian sectors and means more than 20 risers have been scanned on various assets for clients with totally accurate results.

Aberdeen-based flexlife has additional work for further clients scheduled throughout the course of this year in the North Sea and internationally. The scanning technology has led to flexlife winning or being shortlisted for several awards this year.

flexlife's breakthrough ultrasonic scanning technology is the first to be able to successfully scan the annulus of flexible risers and flowlines in situ with 100% accuracy. The application can detect specific locations of any flooding and scan the armour wires around flexibles to an accuracy of 0.1mm.

The data has proven extremely difficult to obtain in situ in the past and flexlife’s application can be used by operators to plan maintenance work.

The tool is ROV-deployed and can operate down to 3,000 meters, helping to extend the lifespan of flexible pipes and minimize additional cost, personnel and environmental impact for clients.

Glyn Pritchard, Balmoral Area Projects Manager for Premier Oil, said, "With the Balmoral platform operating some of the oldest flexible risers in the North Sea, if not the world, Premier Oil was very keen to place a contract with Flexlife to trial the Neptune tool.

"A number of our risers have a flooded annulus and the ability to establish the condition of the armour wires is a valuable piece of intelligence in the process of determining the remaining riser life. The offshore phase of riser inspection went very well which enabled us to carry out more scans than planned and build up a really comprehensive picture of riser condition."

flexlife recently marked two years in business and is on track to turn over £5million in 2009/10, up from £3million in 2008/09. The company currently has a 20-strong team with plans to employ at least 50 people by 2012.

flexlife director Stuart Mitchell said, "The technology means that for the first time in the 40 year history of flexibles, it is possible to inspect risers for a flooded annulus and be absolutely certain of the results. The industry has reacted very positively to the scanning technology and there is enormous potential for new business, given the additional flexibles and risers predicted to be in use over the next few years."

Stuart added, "We are in the process of having a further two units used to deploy the system offshore manufactured and anticipate one being based in Australia and one in Brazil.

"As well as developing our client base for the existing application, our priority is to commercialise and launch the next step of the patented technology. We aim to bring retrofit collIars to market by early 2010 that can be installed on new risers and those currently in service without interrupting production. The collars will allow all risers to be monitored permanently throughout their life."

flexlife also offers a full design, delivery and maintenance service and plans to open bases in Brazil and Australia later this year.


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