TRAC Oil & Gas, the University of Strathclyde and CENSIS and have agreed to form a consortium to address the challenging issue of the non-destructive testing (NDT) of corroded pipes and engineered temporary pipe wraps used in North Sea operations. 

Under the project, the consortium will methodically audit the tools, capabilities and approaches currently used in the oil and gas industry to look at the steel surfaces of assets blocked by layers of material. 

TRAC Oil & Gas technical manager Bill Brown said: "Inspection is becoming more important as the United Kingdom Continental Shelf (UKCS) continues to mature estimates suggest that a high proportion of assets are approaching or, indeed, have exceeded their original design life. 

“We’re at the point now where, against the backdrop of a sustained low oil price, if a platform has to shut down for maintenance, it may never start producing again. 

"We’re at the point now where if a platform has to shut down for maintenance, it may never start producing again."

"We, therefore, need as much accurate data as possible to make informed decisions." 

Current NDT technologies have limited effectiveness when used on pipes that are protected by insulation. In addition, it is influenced by materials, locations and accessibility of the assets, complicating the analysis. 

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Brown added: "By taking regular readings on an asset’s condition, we can determine whether they are fit for purpose and operations can keep oil flowing, all within as safe an environment as possible." 

Following the assessment of limitations, the consortium will identify the scope of improvement, development of new techniques to detect and measure the areas of corrosion. 

The first phase of the project involves a feasibility study, which will be shared with the wider industry and its stakeholders.

The Scottish Innovation Centre for Sensor and Imaging Systems, CENSIS has brokered the relationship between TRAC and the University of Strathclyde and will also provide project management support for this initiative.