A shallow water trial of a new technology system designed to address a recurring problem in the subsea oil and gas industry has started at Portishead Quays marina.
The system, known as V-IR, has been developed by Portishead-based company Viper Subsea with the support of Total, BP, Shell, and Chevron, and will help to identify the location of electrical faults on subsea oil and gas installations. This will enable field operators to better plan for repair or replacement of failed components, and will save the industry many £millions in halted production.
The shallow water trial in Portishead Quays marina will run in phases and last up to 12 months. The initial trial will last three months, during which time the V-IR technology suite will undergo communications and performance testing in a sea water environment that includes the use of 2km of subsea cable which has been deployed onto the bed of the marina. Although a shallow water trial, the main components are already designed for 3000m water depth. Following the shallow water trial there will be a period of further equipment qualification before the system is fully commercialised later in 2016.
Explaining the system, Neil Douglas, Managing Director of Viper Subsea said “Offshore oil and gas platforms are connected to underwater oil and gas production equipment with electrical cables. Failure of these connections occur when seawater penetrates and contacts the electrical conductors. This can happen at any point on the cable length or in the plugs and sockets at either end. Seabed located equipment needs to operate for the lifetime of the oilfield – typically 20 years or more – but when failures occur they can halt production. Identifying the exact location and nature of the failure is time consuming and difficult with existing technology. Recovery and repair of cables is fraught with risk and is very expensive.
“V-IR brings together products and services developed by Viper Subsea, and when integrated, these innovative technologies create a system that provides a complete subsea system electrical integrity map. The value of the system to the offshore oil and gas industry is illustrated by the backing and support we receive from major operators.”
Employing 46 staff, Viper Subsea has emerged as one of the world’s most exciting and innovative suppliers of products and services for the international offshore oil and gas industry. The business has enjoyed year-on-year growth since foundation, and the company exports its products around the globe.