Innovative Inspection Venture Creates Cost-Effective Partnership

Two cutting-edge inspection and testing companies with complementary technologies have teamed up in a groundbreaking and cost-effective subsea joint venture that has reduced the conventional inspection schedule.

Aberdeen-based advanced ultrasonics expert Sonomatic and eddy current specialist Innospection combined forces to inspect a 63 metre stretch of pipeline at a depth of 100metres on the BP ETAP Madoes cooling spool in just two and a half days. If the work had been carried out independently it could have taken up to three weeks.

Innospection and Sonomatic have previously worked together as separate contractors but this was the first time they have approached a project as a joint venture -- and the first time that the working partnership has been used on a subsea inspection. The joint venture had a combined contract value of UK180,000 to the inspection specialists. If the project had been carried out without their combined approach, it could have cost the client more than half a million pounds.

The two companies' non-intrusive approach to inspection meant that the pipeline was scanned successfully while at operating temperature and without the need for a costly shutdown.

Innospection's marinised SLOFEC riser pipe inspection tool, which is capable of working through coatings of up to 15mm, was utilised during the Madoes subsea inspection project. The tool is able to inspect areas of pipeline without the need to remove coatings or marine growth. Due to this fact, no surface preparation was required.

Sonomatic's advanced ultrasonic inspection methods TOFD (Time of Flight Diffraction) and Corrosion mapping, using the diver-deployed Nautilus scanner, were then utilised to examine pre-determined areas and, if required, would have been employed on areas requiring verification and further analysis.

As well as the obvious cost and time savings for platform operators, the approach also paid dividends for Technip, which was contracted to carry out the essential inspections for operator BP. By saving time on the inspection period, the diving support vessel only spent a matter of days on the project and was therefore more rapidly available to commence operations for other crucial offshore projects.

Innospection and Sonomatic are now are planning to capitalise on their successful relationship by joining forces on other joint ventures in the future.

Sonomatic Operations and Business Development Manager Zach McCann said: "There are obvious synergies between our two companies that contributed to the success of the BP ETAP project."

"Our technology and equipment clearly complements each other in a way that offers a cost-effective, rapid solution to pipeline operators and maintenance companies."

Adding to this, Innospection Managing Director Andreas Boenisch commented: "The target of our new subsea inspection systems is fast screening with reliable, high defect-detection capabilities and low preparation necessities. The ideal inspection combination of our systems with Sonomatic's verification and complex geometry accessing tools is an enormous gain for the operator in terms of receiving comprehensive pipeline condition assessment data with minimum preparation requirements in reduced time."

Technip Project Manager, James Druce, said: "By calling on the expertise of both Sonomatic and Innospection in a joint operation, we were able to provide BP with an innovative and effective inspection solution that brought significant cost savings due to reduced time taken on surface preparation and detailed inspection while the pipeline remained in production. Their working alliance clearly offers potential for future projects."