TDW Offshore Services has hosted its first pipeline conference dedicated to the latest developments in emergency preparedness for subsea pipelines in Stavanger, Norway. The TDW Offshore Services Client Conference spotlighted innovative ways that the company's technology can help pipeline operators prepare themselves to respond effectively when the unexpected happens to their subsea lines. Special emphasis was placed on how pipeline downtime can be reduced when making critical repairs or conducting planned maintenance and inspection services.
Being Prepared Holds Key to Rapid Response
Following subsea pipeline incidents in the North Sea and extreme weather in the Gulf of Mexico, pipeline operators are increasingly embracing Emergency Pipeline Repair Systems (EPRS) as part of their standard emergency response contingency programs. "Today we're seeing a shift in attitude about EPRS from one of available alternative to that of an essential component of pipeline project concept development and Front End Engineering and Design (FEED)," said Jon Major, Vice-President of TDW Offshore Services. "Fortunately, the pipeline technology featured in these solutions is focused on helping pipeline operators to respond more quickly so that they can more readily remedy an emergency situation. This reduces downtime, which benefits all concerned," he added.
Between hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico and anchor snags in the North Sea and elsewhere, being unprepared has taken a toll on several pipeline operators during the past few years. In many cases, production downtime has gone on for several months. When a pipeline operates at a billion cubic feet per day of gas throughput, and it’s down for even a day longer than planned, that is a significant loss to all stakeholders. Plus, it's a major interruption to business, affecting upstream and downstream customers. According to Major, understanding and planning ahead for the potential risks to subsea pipelines is knowable. In other words, by making reasonable assumptions, operating prudently, and assessing the top three risks through engineering study and gap analysis, a pipeline operator can develop an effective EPRS response plan.
"Being unprepared can be up to five times more costly to the operator in real costs when the dust settles following an emergency, and that doesn’t include loss of production or business interruption costs," said Major. Case studies presented at the conference supported that point. "Basically, it's about thinking ahead, engaging the right service and solution providers ahead of time, and working collaboratively to develop an effective EPRS program. The time to buy insurance isn’t after the fire," he said.
Monitoring Pressure Through Pipe Wall Enhances Low Pressure Pipeline Repair
To share news of its work in the area of low pressure isolations, Gordon Blair, UK Sales Manager for TDW Offshore Services, presented a case study titled "Developments in Low Pressure Isolations for Emergency Repair." TDW uses its SmartTrack™ system to enhance performance of High Friction Pigs (HFP) to carry out pipeline isolation operations on pipelines with low delta pressures of up to 5 Bar. Each HFP is custom-designed to operate within the specific conditions of the pipeline targeted for isolation. It is then fully function-tested prior to deployment to make certain that it will operate as planned with the required operating characteristics. With its ability to negotiate geometry posed by dents or a damaged area that isn't passable with a plug, the HFP is ideal for use when isolating a low pressure pipeline.
Following the presentations, guests were taken on a tour of TDW's facilities, where they viewed live demonstrations and examined the latest advances in pipeline technology. These advances serve as critical specialist tools in an EPRS tool box.
For TDW, the conference proved to be a significant event in the process of raising awareness of emergency preparedness and highlighting developments in the technologies available to create an effective EPRS. "As it was the first technical conference that TDW Offshore Services has hosted in Norway, we are extremely pleased with the fact that client representatives from so many major operators and key service companies chose to attend," said Mark Sim, Regional General Manager - North Europe for TD Williamson.
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