Viper Subsea has signed a Joint Industry Project (JIP) agreement with energy giants BP and Total to further develop its Subsea Line Insulation Monitoring (V-SLIM) technology for identifying and locating cable and connector faults in remote subsea electrical distribution systems. Viper Subsea will carry out all the research and development for the V-SLIM system, while the JIP partners will contribute funding and field test the pioneering technology. The establishment of the JIP has been facilitated by the Industry Technology Facilitator (ITF).
When electrical faults occur in subsea production systems it is often difficult to determine the precise cause or location of the fault. However, water ingress into the aging electrical conductors and connectors over time is a common cause of subsea faults. The generally accepted perception of such failures within the industry is expressed in terms of “when”, and not “if” they occur.
Viper Subsea is developing its V-SLIM technology with the backing of the JIP to provide a solution that will enable accurate electrical fault location. V-SLIM units can be strategically positioned within the subsea distribution system, and together with a surface Line Insulation Monitoring unit (V-LIM) that incorporates a topside modem, they build a network (V-NET) of electrical condition monitoring units that inter-communicate and transmit information back to the surface. Each V-SLIM can identify whether any electrical leakage is ‘upstream’ or ‘downstream’ of its self, and in dialogue with one another, fault locations can be accurately located.
The JIP also utilises the field-proven V-LIFE technology by incorporating it into the surface located V-LIM to create an all-encompassing electrical integrity monitoring and rejuvenation solution.
The technology developed by the JIP could be incorporated into green field developments, or retrofitted into brown fields. Once installed, continuous integrity monitoring provides the operator with the ability to both identify and predict early fault occurrence,
The benefits brought to the field operators from V-SLIM are significant. Gaining knowledge of which components are failing and the rate of degradation of all components allows interventions to be planned and optimised. Costs of the interventions are subsequently minimised, some contingency spares are not required, and some production down-time can be avoided.
Neil Douglas, managing director of Viper Subsea, commented: “Our partnership with BP and Total will enable us to advance this key technology in order to produce a novel and innovative suite of subsea electrical integrity management tools.. The data recovered from the subsea network of V-SLIM units will give operators an accurate picture of where faults are occurring in their subsea electrical distribution network.”
Douglas continued: “A minor fault can allow sea water ingress into an electrical connector or cable and can eventually cause a much wider system failure. The new V-SLIM / V-NET technology will help field operators locate and rectify these faults before they have a chance to cause more disruption. As such this technology could save operators millions of dollars in the form of reduced intervention costs and unplanned production loss.
Douglas added: “Our success in securing a JIP for the development of this technology demonstrates the confidence that field operators have in our ability to deliver high performance subsea asset integrity management tools, and in the ultimate benefits that these tools will bring to the entire subsea industry. We are hugely excited about this opportunity to further develop our offering to the subsea sector.”
Viper Subsea expects the new V-SLIM to be field-trialled in less than 18 months.