MB Inspection and Aker Kvaerner in North Sea First

MB Inspection has just completed the removal and replacement of the top section of the flare tower on BP’s Magnus platform - believed to be the first time this has been done in the North Sea.

The providers of inspection and testing services won the £400,000 contract earlier this year from Aker Kvaerner after they assured the client they could safely and effectively remove 30 meters of the 75 meter flare tower along with flare tips and vent lines.

With an onshore team of three and an offshore team comprising 11 rope access technicians with skills in rigging, welding and pipefitting, MB Inspection project managed and delivered the specific tasks involved in removing and replacing the steel tower which stands 126 meters above sea level.

Firstly the rope access technicians prepared the tower by disconnecting all wiring, unbolting the sections and removing the walkways. With no crane large enough on board the platform, MB Inspection used a series of air hoists to lower any discarded material.

One of the largest barges in Europe, the Saipem 7000 was on hand with a crane to remove the tower and replace it with the new section that had been fabricated onshore.

This part of the operation was carried out in less than three hours and the total time spent on the job, not including downtime, was days.

Paul Munro, rope access manager at MB Inspection says: "It all went with the precision of a military operation. It is quite commonplace to replace flare tips but this is the first time anyone has ever replaced a whole section of a flare tower. The efficient way in which our guys planned and then handled the various elements of the project ensured the barge was used for only a limited time, saving the client money, and that an y risks were fully assessed and mitigated, ensuring the safety of all concerned.

Danny McIlwham, head of construction and commissioning, of Aker Kvaerner adds: "I think the eyes of other operators may well be on this project as it demonstrates what can be done. Working with MB Inspection we have now proven that a flare tower can be partially removed and replaced safely and efficiently."

MB Inspection, which currently employs 450 staff in Aberdeen, Falkirk and Stockton, is a major provider of integrity engineering, inspections management and specialist testing services.

The company has achieved significant growth, increasing its turnover from £6 million in 2000 to £22 million today.