Viper Innovations have been involved with the North Sea Operator since 2016 in relation to the Integrity Management of their Subsea Production Control System. As part of that interaction, Viper have been compiling Asset Condition Assessments, which involve looking at all aspects of the control system ‘health’. It was noted that the insulation resistance had been degrading and that V-LIM/V-LIFE could offer a solution to this problem. Therefore, the Operator decided to trial V-LIFE after the issue was highlighted as a threat to continued production.
The most common cause of subsea electrical failures is the ingress of water into the cable insulation, which decreases the insulation resistance and may produce short circuits or leakage to earth. These faults often lead to loss of power and/or communications to subsea equipment and have the potential to halt production from subsea wells. It has also been demonstrated that prolonged operation of subsea power circuits with particularly low insulation resistance can lead to the loss of copper from the conductor at the fault site, which can lead to the complete loss of operability of the system. Before V-LIFE became available expensive subsea fault-finding interventions and the replacement of cables, equipment and umbilicals were the only solutions to this problem.
The V-LIFE effect is achieved by the application of a low voltage passivation signal to the faulty line which through an electro-kinetic and electrochemical process generates and sustains a solid precipitate at, and only at, the location or locations in the subsea circuit where seawater has ingressed. The precipitate produced is electrically insulating, and its propagation at the source of the fault increases the circuit’s insulation resistance, often by more than 100x. A V-LIFE application involves the installation of a V-LIM line insulation monitor (the hardware) and the enabling of its V-LIFE passivation signal by the upload of a software config file. V-LIM and V-LIFE can typically be installed and commissioned within 2 to 3 shifts offshore. The installation work is all topside. No subsea intervention is required.
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