Integrity management is an ongoing lifecycle process for ensuring safe operation and fitness for service of offshore oil and gas production systems, including risers. Risers offer a means of transporting fluids between subsea wells and the host platform crossing the splash zone that is probably the most critical region for corrosion and exposure to external damages. Furthermore, with their proximity to the personnel on the platform and to the topside equipment, risers are considered safety critical, and are therefore, subject to planned inspections followed by an engineering assessment of the findings. This paper discusses the motivation and business driver for developing and implementing a new and cost effective risers’ inspection methodology in the splash zone based on innovative robotic platforms. The technical features and the capabilities of the robot are outlined.
Traditionally, risers’ inspections are carried out by rope access technicians and divers or ROV below the water line using conventional technologies as spot ultrasonic thickness measurements, traditional radiography and visual assessment. This type of inspection is based on a first visual assessment followed by NDE testing only if some finding is spotted. Internal defects or defect under coating, e.g. splashtron, can be easily overlooked, compromising the entire assessment process. Additionally such activities are often limited by accessibility, weather, and Personnel On-Board (POB) accommodations, but primarily they involve risks to inspector's safety.
Backbone of the presented methodology is the use of a robotic crawler that has the key advantage to inspect autonomously the risers, navigating over obstacles like clamps and supports. The robot can carry a variety of payloads for visual inspections, surface profiling, and NDE examinations with the ability to scan large surfaces with or without coating and detect internal and external defects. It can operate in the topside, splash zone and subsea sections of the riser. The inspection data are processed in real time for an immediate assessment of the integrity of the asset.
Examples are presented and comparison is made between traditional inspection methodologies and robotic autonomous methodologies to demonstrate the improvement of inspection effectiveness and efficiency.
The paper also discusses the potential areas of future development, which include Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithms to further automatize the process and methodologies of risers’ inspection and data analysis.