16/03/2018 - 13:18

Project to protect subsea equipment

16/03/2018 - 13:18

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A costly problem that dramatically shortens the life of subsea equipment used offshore of Western Australia is the focus of a collaborative project backed by some of the state’s biggest energy producers.

Project to protect subsea equipment
Marine life growth on subsea equipment can slow production of gas at big projects.

A costly problem that dramatically shortens the life of subsea equipment used offshore of Western Australia is the focus of a collaborative project backed by some of the state’s biggest energy producers.

The project is being led by engineering business Wood Group, and is supported by Woodside Petroleum, Shell, Chevron Australia, and the University of Western Australia.

Partial funding is being provided by government-established body National Energy and Resources Australia.

The seas off WA are warmer, shallower and more nutrient rich than in established areas of offshore production such as the Gulf of Mexico or the North Sea, leading to rapid build-up of marine life such as barnacles.

As an example, water at the seabed of the Carnarvon Basin is usually around 20˚ celsius, about 16˚C hotter than experienced by subsea equipment in the North Sea, according to Wood Group principal engineer for subsea integrity Adrianna Botto.

The impact is significant, with subsea equipment designed to last up to five years instead lasting closer to one year.

The cost is also high, with production time lost and operators needing to hire large vessels for maintenance of the equipment.

Ms Botto said the project had installed three assets offshore to test potential materials and coatings that may protect against marine life build-up, with another three to be rolled out this year.

Analysis will continue for three years and will be compared to operating subsea equipment.

About 70 companies participated in the project, offering technology to be tested.

Once a solution is found, it can be retrofitted to existing equipment and used for future infill projects, Ms Botto said.

National Energy and Resources Australia chief executive Miranda Taylor said the intellectual property from the project would be available for use by other businesses in the sector.

There would also be potential for export markets, she said.

NERA pitched in about $145.000 of funding for the project over two years.

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