Leading flexible pipe specialist flexlife has launched a prototype for a new spin-off from its award-winning patented scanning technology and forecasts it will generate an additional £14.4million per annum for the company by 2014.
flexlife's breakthrough ultrasonic scanning technology was 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 provides an early warning of problems for operators, allowing them to save millions of pounds through planning maintenance work, extending the lifespan of flexibles and minimizing the potential for damage to the environment.
The new product offers a permanent monitoring solution in the form of a collar containing the ultrasonic scanning technology that can be retrofitted or fitted to a flexible riser on installation.
The company, which was formed in 2007, is on track to turnover around £6million this year, double the 2008/09 figure, and now employs 22 people at its Aberdeen headquarters.
Continued rapid expansion is forecast, with revenue expected to reach well in excess of £20million by 2014 and the team expected to grow to more than 50.
flexlife director of integrity Stuart Mitchell said, "The collars are being offered on a rental basis for a minimum of five years. We expect the first ones to be installed in the first part of 2010 and it’s just a question of where will be first -- the North Sea or West Africa -- as we already have clients lined up.
"It can take up to two years to have a replacement riser manufactured so giving operators the ability to continously monitor for annulus integrity and plan work with the mimimum of interuption to production is clearly very attractive."
flexlife has completed nearly £2million of work using the scanning technology in the North Sea since its first project in February. Clients have included Hess, StatoilHydro and Premier Oil and additional work for further clients is scheduled in the North Sea and internationally.
The scanning technology has led to flexlife winning or being shortlisted for several innovation and entrepreneurial awards this year.
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."
flexlife also offers a full design, delivery and maintenance service and plans to open bases in Brazil and SE Asia in the near future.