Lloyd's Register Uses Multi-Bean Echo Sounder to Survey Pipeline

Lloyd's Register EMEA, in conjunction with Caledonian Geotech Ltd and the Maritime Institute in Gdansk, has recently conducted what is believed to be the first offshore North Sea pipeline in-service survey using a multi-beam echo sounder (MBES).

MBES technology has the ability to map 100% of the seabed by sending out a fan of narrow acoustic beams from a fixed unit aboard a vessel. These beams "echo" back data which generates a detailed 3D image of the terrain including, in this case, the pipeline. This technique provides a higher quality survey at a lower cost compared to conventional methods and avoids the practical and safety hazards associated with deploying equipment over the side in adverse sea conditions.

The specialized Polish research vessel RV IMOR, which normally performs coastal zone and shallow water exploration and research, was used for the 190km-length survey carried out for Interconnector (UK) Limited on their gas pipeline linking Belgium and the UK.

John Thornton, Lloyd's Register Project Manager for the Interconnector contract, said "Multi-beam echo sound surveys provide us with excellent data for managing the integrity of subsea pipelines. The technique is commonly used for limited, specialised work but this is the first time it has been used as part of a routine offshore pipeline survey as far as we and Caledonian Geotech Ltd are aware. The IMOR proved to be an ideal workboat for this pipeline and everyone involved worked extremely hard to make this first survey in the North Sea a success."