The Magazine for Underwater Professionals

Jul/Aug 2017


Society for Underwater Technology

Pipeline management

A total of 37 people attended the June evening meeting of the Aberdeen Branch and listened to three speakers discuss one of the oldest problems in pipeline management, with some innovations that testify to the industry’s continuing inventiveness.

The majority of subsea pipelines are silent, giving up information about their status only when inspected by internal pig or external survey. Sensors on wells and platforms at either end tell what is going on, but conditions in-between must be inferred. So how do we improve matters so that we can reveal what we have only so far been able to guess at (i.e., show whether internal corrosion and freespans are under control)?

Adrian Griffiths of Shell discussed improvements to existing technology. Adrian covered a complicated series of previously un-piggable pipelines, inspected by simultaneous ultrasonic and magnetic flux on the same pig. This required de-oiling, wax solvents, subsea launch and receive operations, finishing up with de-watering to allow hydrocarbons back into the pipelines. At low speeds, over distances that generally give problems for battery life, Shell managed to complete the inspection of over 100 kilometres of pipelines and many hundreds of degrees of bends.


Damian Ling of Chevron briefed on new innovations in autonomous vehicle technology for pipeline survey. The ability to follow the actual pipe, not just follow the previous survey co-ordinates, means AUVs may soon compete with conventional wheeled ROVs rolling along the top of the pipeline. The vehicle adapts to momentary burial, mattresses, crossing pipelines and re-acquires the target pipeline if lost. The results include the pipe co-ordinates, meaning the pipe location and significant features can be overlaid on mapping applications.

Brendan Hyland of WFS-Tech discussed subsea wireless automation and its implementation, available products, and how it could improve pipeline internal conditions in near real-time. Underwater, radio can transmit moderate bit-rates over distances up to 100 metres, and existing wall thickness, vibration and temperature monitors have been adapted to take advantage. Brendan described how this allowed for a network of battery-powered sensors at regular intervals along subsea pipelines, removing the need for cabling at remote distances. Connected to the existing controls system, this allows for real-time monitoring of pipelines where it has previously been impractical.

Having discussed the internal, external inspection and wireless data management, the subject seemed to have been well covered and we had to wrap up the questions to avoid dinner going cold. All three of our speakers were kept busy during the networking buffet afterwards, answering further questions there hadn’t been time for in the auditorium.

Martin Harley

Subsea controls assets, marine renewables and subsea compression

The Perth Branch’s evening meeting Controls, Compression and Renewables, held at the Parmelia Hilton, was opened by branch secretary Norman O’Rourke and chaired by SUT Committee member Paul Farquharson. The event was kindly sponsored by Advisian, INTECSEA, Proserv and Rosen.

The evening was designed to give two very different challenges facing the subsea industry just now and an overview of renewable solutions in the underwater field.

The first presentation of the evening was given by Michael Lewis, regional manager of subsea systems at Proserv Offshore. Michael’s presentation dealt with extending the life of aging subsea controls assets by supporting obsolete incumbent systems or even unsupported control systems. He gave an overview of the extent of the problem and how Proserv is working with the operators and service companies to co-exist with the already installed equipment. The equipment is designed to use the same umbilical and hence reduce installation and topside costs for the operator. The technology can be used to extend existing fields that are being expanding for additional wells, but cannot currently expand due to obsolescence.


Our second presentation was by Eoghan Quinn, associate, New Energy, Advisian. His presentation was a refreshing change from the oil and gas ‘centric presentations. It dealt with the growing field of renewable energy and some of the strides that have been made in this area. The presentation offered early stage technology development as well as the market trends that led to ocean energy expansion. It also identified the key growth areas and breakthrough disruptive technologies that would complement the offshore oil and gas sector. It closed with some recent project developments that Advisian has been involved in for marine renewables.

The final presentation of the evening was by Si Huai Yeaw, senior process engineer at Aker Solutions and current SUT Perth Branch Committee member. He presented on the progression of subsea compression within Aker Solutions and detailed its effectiveness in today’s market as a proven solution for increased recovery in gas developments. His presentation reviewed the development timeline from Aker’s first installed project to advancements and next generation products using lessons learned and progression of the operators to this technology.

After each presentation, there were questions from the floor which produced some challenging and thought provoking responses from each of the three presenters. The presentations were very well received from 100-plus attendees and provided a great insight into a spectrum of challenges within the underwater technology space.

The event ran extremely smoothly and garnered some very open discussions and meetings in the post presentation drinks.

Paul Farquharson

Cyber security in the oil and gas industry

At a time when the WannaCry cyber-attack was still warm in the news, the SUT Young Engineers and Scientist (YES!) group in Perth hosted an event on cyber security in the oil and gas industry. With a diverse and stellar line-up of speakers from Woodside, Cisco Systems, Honeywell and GE Digital, the evening was informative and engaging, generating discussion and take away actions from the audience.

The presentations explored a dynamic range of topics, including operational technology (OT) versus IT, subsea and well control systems, what to look for in cyber-attacks, how to mitigate against attacks and the current and future challenges that the oil and gas industry will face.

Speakers Andrea Kesterson and Loai Khalayli from Woodside kicked off the evening, with a presentation titled Cyber Attack on Your Umbilicals. Next on the agenda was David De Lima from Cisco with Cyber Security for an IoT (Internet of Things) World, followed by Nathan Formby from GE Digital who examined the topic Is Your Industrial Data Safe? The evening was wrapped up by Mirel Sehic from Honeywell who talked on the forward-looking statement ‘Cyber Security – are we there yet?’ followed by questions from the audience to the panel of speakers.


The message that really shone through over the evening was that practicing vigilance and keeping our organisations up to date with current protections and technologies is key to being protected against a cyber-attack. The question is not whether organisations will experience a cyber-attack or not, but a matter of when. Vulnerabilities do exist within all IT and OT systems, so it is so important that the industry collaborates to protect everyone within this space.

A big thank you to YES! sponsor Woodside Energy, all of the presenters and the YES! Committee and SUT staff for making the event such an intriguing and valuable evening.

Kelsie Clarke





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