CASE STUDY: V-LIFE Recovers a Failing System for North Sea Oil Field

May 19, 2021

Discover how V-LIFE was used to increase the IR of a deteriorating umbilical in a North Sea oil field, avoiding the risk of lost production and saving the operator significant costs in the procurement and installation of a replacement umbilical. You can also view or download this case study as a pdf here.


Viper Innovations were contacted by an operator experiencing issues with a deteriorating umbilical in a North Sea oil field. When the client contacted Viper they had already written a procurement specification for a new umbilical and umbilical termination assembly. The original umbilical, 15km in length, was installed in 1992, and both electrical power channels were deteriorating, with one of them at such a low level that it was unserviceable. This meant that the entire subsea system of 8 wells was operating on a single power channel with no prediction as to how long it would last. The lead time for a new umbilical was anticipated to be two years. Production was at risk, and so Viper Innovations were asked to install V-LIFE on the failed electrical channel – there was only upside to the operator if V-LIFE could recover this channel.

V-LIFE offers a practical alternative to replacing failing umbilicals and other subsea electrical cables and connectors. Designed to recover the electrical integrity of failing subsea circuits, V-LIFE can make a dramatic impact on systems with failing electrical insulation resistance. V-LIFE is used as an alternative to costly subsea fault-finding interventions and subsequent replacement of cables, equipment, and umbilicals. It has been extensively used to avoid subsea interventions and the need to replace umbilicals.


Viper Innovations undertook the upfront interface engineering to fully define the changes that would be necessary to prepare the existing topsides equipment. Detailed installation procedures were prepared together with destruct and construct drawings. A portable V-LIFE unit was delivered, and a Viper Innovations Engineer was mobilised offshore to undertake the installation and the commissioning. The power was removed from the subsea system for a total of two hours, and the V-LIFE was commissioned within a single offshore shift. Within two weeks, the insulation resistance had increased from less than 50kOhms to in excess of 20MOhms. Since December 2013, the IR has risen to, and plateaued at, 80Mohm. The client has installed a second V-LIFE on the same umbilical and is now operating with good margins on both power channels. The umbilical procurement activity has been deferred indefinitely, with the current plan being to utilise V-LIFE up until the field is decommissioned. The client has avoided the risk of lost production resulting from an umbilical failure and also saved significant CAPEX in the procurement and installation of a replacement umbilical.

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