Global Initiative On Flexible Pipe To Promote 'Shared Learning'

A global initiative to promote shared knowledge of flexible pipe in the subsea sector is being hailed a success.

The Flexible Network Forum (FNF) has been set up by subsea engineering company MCS in a bid to promote shared learning and generate cross-company relationships in the subsea engineering community.

The second FNF to share lessons learnt between the North Sea and Australia was held in March in Perth and attracted almost 30 participants from AGR, Apache, Coogee Resources, Santos, Trident and Woodside as well as the Department of Industry and Resources and the ITF.

"The purpose is to share and disseminate knowledge, ideas, experience and technology among companies so that the industry can ensure pipe integrity, while also looking at how the life of pipe can be extended," explains Enda O'Sullivan, MCS director in Perth. "This is the second forum we have held, and we have achieved true global sharing of lessons learnt. We are planning to build on this with a strong focus on learning from not just our local markets, but from the flexible pipe industry internationally. To this end we are exploring the possibility of hosting an FNF in Rio, Brazil."

Tim O'Sullivan, managing director for MCS in the UK spoke at the Perth event on recent North Sea experience of repairing and monitoring flexibles. Sylvain Lyonnet of Woodside Petroleum presented the Cossack Pioneer (CWLH) Flexible Pipe Life Extension Initiative.

In Australia, there is a long tradition of innovation in the use of floating production systems. The classical solution adopts unbonded flexible pipe to enable floating facilities to produce in relatively shallow waters. While unbonded flexible pipe is a reliable technology that has been in use for over 30 years, damage and ultimately failure can occur during manufacturing and testing, installation and early operation as well as in later life.

Accurate assessments of historical records of flexible pipe usage have led to an increased understanding of the potential reasons for failure and the development of operating strategies and procedures to avoid incidents.

Tim O'Sullivan explained: "Techniques for the inspection and monitoring of flexible pipe, including conventional general visual inspection (GVI) techniques are widely available and technologies are being developed which reduce the need for GVI when part of an integrity management strategy. As we are leading the way in this field, we believe the forum will allow for more constructive pan-industry conversations on the whole issue of integrity.

"Given the advances in understanding of complex flexible pipe inter-layer behaviour, we want to examine how the correct mix of inspection and assessment tools and procedures can allow the operator to re-use and re-deploy flexible pipes to alternative fields and functions and extend design life.

The next forum meeting will be held in Aberdeen on April 24, followed by a New Pipelines Inspection Technology event in May co-hosted by Qserv and MCS. In November, another forum meeting is scheduled along with a site visit to Subsea 7 has been arranged when the company will demonstrate riser inspection and repair capabilities utilising the latest ROV technology.

The April meeting will examine the HSE's feedback on learnings in the flexible pipe industry with a presentation entitled "Flexibles : HSE Intervention Plans", and provide an overview of Oil & Gas UK's newly launched initiative to develop a Global Flexible Pipe Defects and Failure Modes Database and to update its Guidance Note on Flexible Pipe Integrity Assurance.