EV Offshore Unveils Custom Video Camera for Subsea Cutting Ops

EV Offshore Ltd, a leading provider of downhole and subsea camera inspection systems, today announced that it has developed a range of custom-designed subsea video cameras for monitoring abrasive cutting operations. The cameras were successfully used by a major oil services company to de-commission one of the largest fixed installations in the North Sea.

De-commissioning Platforms without Divers

EV Offshore's subsea video cameras played a crucial role in the company's move to de-commission platforms without the use of divers, thereby substantially enhancing safety standards. The success of a de-commissioning operation can hinge on making sure that all subsea abrasive cutting activity is properly monitored so that the cuts are made accurately and with the greatest of care. "To achieve this, engineers must be able to view the targeted area so that the cuttings will be made precisely," said Gibson-Ford. "Until now, this level - and flexibility - of monitoring couldn't be achieved without a diver involved in the cutting operations. However, with a video/cutting system that features strategically placed bespoke-designed SL40 cameras, cutting engineers can now inspect the subsea operation from every desired angle," he added.

In order to provide comprehensive monitoring during this extensive operation, EVO delivered what can be described as a subsea CCTV system. A total of 17 custom video camera systems, along with subsea Halogen lights, custom subsea cabling and eight LCD video monitors, were supplied for engineers to view the subsea cutting activity in real time. By using the cameras to view the cuttings process, engineers were able to make certain that a) the cuts were clean, and b) that the cuttings had completely separated from the installation so that recovery to surface could be made without an over-pull from the crane.

The complexity of integrating the camera network with the third party subsea and topside equipment, as well as with equipment located onshore, meant that EV Offshore invested a significant amount of time in the planning process.

Bullet-proof Systems Withstand Jet-propelled Particulates

The camera systems were specially engineered by EV Offshore to function reliably in the harsh subsea environment, made all the more punishing by the cuttings process. Special efforts were made to ensure that every camera was Class II-insulated in order to meet electrical sub-sea operational standards and withstand the force of the back-scatter of particulates propelled during the high pressure jetting of a cutting operation. "Not only did the cameras have to capture quality live images of the cutting zone during the operation, we knew they had to be virtually 'bullet-proof' to fend off the driving force of jet-propelled particulates that would pound against the camera's exterior," said Matthew Gibson-Ford, Principal Project Engineer for EV Offshore.

Cutting engineers now have the ability to see what is happening clearly, hundreds of metres subsea, even in situations where visibility is poor. With its powerful halogen lights and a high fidelity colour cameras, the entire cutting operation can be tracked and supervised with greater efficiency and accuracy.

Cuttings Monitoring System a First

The £75,000 contract to design, supply, install and operate the cuttings monitoring system offshore was carried out in just three months. It represents the first time that EV Offshore has provided a camera system to monitor subsea cutting operations.

Key Technical Highlights

  • Field Serviceable Camera Viewports, allowing extended operations
  • Innovative Pre-focus adjustment, giving operator maximum flexibility of camera positions on the subsea cutting equipment
  • Compact size, maximum options for camera placement on cutting equipment. Can even be placed on moving cutting head
  • Superior video quality and resilience, transmission of video over extended lengths of subsea umbilical in a demanding electro-mechanical environment
  • Internal White Light LEDs, allowing use of camera in even tighter spots, where the use of Halogens is physically prohibitive; Variable intensity adjust from the surface control system, allowing prevention of undesired reflection, based on real-time feedback from video feed

The cameras were designed with internal variable LEDs and a variable focus control to ensure that images are sharp. In addition to the cameras, external halogen lights, subsea whip leads, and surface and subsea satellite interface junction boxes were supplied. In order to ensure that the equipment interfaced with the overall system, extensive integration with third party-supplied equipment was necessary. This included interface with subsea junction boxes, subsea control chests and topside control units. Accurate technical communication and project management was critical to ensure that the equipment integrated precisely, and functioned correctly and reliably.