BLOG: What is Asset Integrity Management and is it Different for Subsea Equipment Than for Other Pieces of Equipment?

October 27, 2020

What is Asset Integrity Management?

Asset integrity management is a three-word term that can be explained more simply with one word: maintenance. Taking your family car for its annual check-up and servicing is asset integrity management. In other words, you are taking care of your asset, i.e. the car, on a regular basis which you hope will prevent an inconvenient event, meaning a breakdown while travelling, in the future.

In the modern world of cars, computers are widely used in servicing. A mechanic will very often plug his computer into your car’s engine to carry out a diagnostic sweep by interrogating a number of sensors to determine if there is something specific amiss that might not be obvious yet but could be a problem in the future.

Oil & Gas Asset Integrity Management

So, is it different for oil and gas production and control equipment sitting on the seabed? The answer is yes, in a number of very significant ways, and no.

Firstly, unlike your car, you cannot drive the equipment into a service shop for a check-up. Subsea hardware is installed on the seabed with the intention (or hope) that it might never be touched during its operational life. Most equipment is delivered by its manufacturer with a specified or expected MTTF, or mean time to failure. Some equipment, for example certain types of valves, may never need any servicing, while for others, like subsea umbilicals (and we will come back to them), they need to be watched on a regular basis before a failure results in lost production.

The significance of determining the MTTF is such that one major oil company which was embarking on a challenging deepwater development hired in two academics to find a new way of determining MTTF. These two eminent academics came up with a new formula for determining when equipment might fail, but the operator chose not to use this new methodology and went back to a tried-and-true exercise of testing.

Secondly, if something does go wrong with a piece of subsea equipment, retrieving it for repair and/or replacement is not only complex, but also very costly. And even if you want to retrieve and repair a piece of equipment, hiring (or chartering in shipping terminology) a vessel with the correct equipment might not be possible – availability is always an issue.

How things are not different is in the way in which car mechanics carry out diagnostics on an engine, as this can also be completed in a roughly similar way with subsea equipment.

At least a decade ago, one of the major subsea equipment manufacturers carried out a survey to determine the cost of maintenance of subsea equipment. It determined that having a regular programme, sometimes called a proactive campaign, of subsea maintenance is much less expensive, than a reactive response to equipment failure. One of the main costs cited was the difference between tendering in advance for a vessel to carry out a work programme in the future versus going into the spot market and trying to secure a vessel on short notice, if even one is available.

What complicates the issue of asset integrity management of underwater equipment now is that ever more complex machines and systems are being installed on the seabed. At one time, such equipment was limited to subsea xmas trees, mostly valves and piping, and control modules, which have been retrieved and replaced for decades.

The catalogue of equipment installed on the seabottom in the last 20 years includes not only more complex individual units, such as single and multiphase pumps, but also includes very complex systems such as subsea separation units and subsea gas compressors.

What the operators of such equipment, as well as those often troublesome subsea umbilicals, want and need to be able to do now is to monitor their machines and equipment remotely and anticipate failures before they actually happen.

Oil & Gas Asset Integrity Management Solutions

And this is where V-ASSURE from Viper Innovations can help. V-ASSURE offers a range of Asset Integrity Management Services for Subsea Production Control Systems (SPCS). This has been developed and refined by Viper Innovations over the course of 10 years, through their extensive experience and knowledge in providing controls support services and consultancy to the subsea oil & gas industry.

V-ASSURE is all about enabling oil & gas operators to make informed decision-making, providing a clear picture of the current status of the asset to all stake-holders, whether they are subsea controls engineers, asset managers, or specialists in related fields.

Central to this service is Viper’s V-ASSURE Portal. This cloud-hosted software application is the critical tool that Viper and their customers use on a day-to-day basis to actively manage the integrity of the subsea assets. The Portal is a contextualised hub for integrity management resources providing fault and service history, system status, spares and obsolescence status and also provides a document vault, for drawings, procedures, photographs etc. Customers are provided with clear, reliable and comprehensive information, informing their decision making, and helping them to avoid production downtime and substantial costs.

Find out more about Viper Innovations >

See more: Remote Support & Monitoring for Subsea Customers


V-ASSURE SPCS Asset Integrity Management.

Asset Integrity Management Services for Subsea Production Control Systems.