Over the years, the oil industry has typically been reluctant to adopt new technology; preferring a risk adverse strategy to base systems on established and proven technology.
Whilst at its launch in 2012, V-LIFE may have been considered Black Magic, the technology quickly moved past this perception and gained traction with operators. This proven technology, is once again confirmed as the leading alternative to traditional Insulation Resistance (IR) remedial campaigns with its recent installation in Norway.
Since its inception six years ago, the V-LIFE technology, developed by Viper Innovations, is providing exciting new benefits to extend the life of subsea cables without the need for intrusive and often difficult fault-finding and maintenance operations. Acceptance of the technology has taken time as operators are naturally sceptical because there is no other technology like V-LIFE in the market place. However, within a couple of years of its launch the technology was been rapidly adopted as a viable and legitimate alternative to traditional methods for rectifying insulation resistance problems. As ONS 2018 in Norway approaches, the technology has now accumulated over 125 years of service across 76 installations by 20 operators, globally. It has been successfully installed on six OEM control systems, reflecting the confidence and trust in the technology. Recent tests for Norway’s oil major on a subsea electrical distribution system recovered during a repair campaign, has reinforced the technology’s key benefit of improving insulation resistance from the topsides installed device, as an alternative to a subsea campaign. The tests have also reinforced the benefits the technology offers, to instil confidence for the operator so much so that they have carried out their first field installation. Talks are also in the advanced stages with another Norwegian operator, with a view to install in the coming months.
V-LIFE is a highly innovative solution that uses an electro-kinetic and electromechanical process to actively heal cable insulation and plug holes to prevent water ingress that can potentially lead to complete system failure. The increased insulation resistance (IR) of subsea electrical systems can mean any repair activity required can be postponed and scheduled for the best time to optimize system availability. For example, if a subsea channel is showing low IR during the winter months, any requirement to mobilise vessels and personnel can be left until seasonal conditions are easier. For assets nearing the end of viable production, V-LIFE also offers the potential to extend the life of a well by maintaining the insulation resistance levels, until faults other than insulation failure on reservoir performance bring production to an end. Viper Innovations’ track record of installations have shown huge improvements in IR, with some operators simply leaving the system running for many years to reduce the risk of lost production and to avoid abandonment costs.
Recent installation and tests carried out on a failed subsea component from the Norwegian field were followed by onshore analysis of components at a laboratory in Bristol, UK. These showed that V-LIFE had produced a 400 times improvement in IR, to a level at the maximum of the V-LIFE measurement range, within a period of just seven days.
Max Nodder, Director at Viper Innovations, said, “We are now in a position where V-LIFE is no longer an unknown entity in the industry, but a proven and trusted piece of technology that offers a huge potential benefit to oil operators for use in the short or long term. 76 offshore installations are using V-LIFE and operators are discovering more and more opportunities where this technology can help them.”
V-LIFE technology is easily installed on the topsides, with a permanent replacement of the incumbent insulation monitoring device, or as a temporary measure with Viper’s portable version. Potential installations are carefully analysed by Viper Innovations and the system is only ever recommended when they believe it will truly make a difference. This superior level of service and honest application of the technology mean that V-LIFE is hugely successful at what it does.
“At the end of the day, operators can replace subsea electrical jumpers and components but, when it comes to complete umbilical failure there are few appealing options. V-LIFE offers them a way to better manage the lifecycle of an asset by protecting the whole system from water ingress,” continued Nodder. “It is not suitable for every application – and we are very honest about this. We know how and where the technology works and collaborate with operators to ensure they get what they need for their application, whether this be end of life management or long-term protection of their assets.”
With a cumulative field deployment of over 125 years, V-LIFE has proven its ability to actively improve subsea cable IR readings. Its capability gives operators more choices and new options in how they manage and optimize their assets. Its effects are no longer unknown or can be classed as ‘black magic’. It is now an established, proven piece of technology that, in some applications, can be a real gamechanger. The Viper Innovations team will be showcasing their electrical integrity expertise on stand 7560, Hall 7 at ONS 2018 taking place in Stavanger.