Current methods for external inspection of floating assets on station use divers or remotely operated vehicles (ROVs), but these methods incur high safety, people-on-board (POB), and cost penalties. The data produced by these methods are restricted by marine growth and limited access to isolation valves. The Hull Inspection Techniques and Strategy (HITS) joint-industry project (JIP) called for new methods to be developed that minimize or eliminate diving. This has been achieved by carrying out many of the inspections from inside the hull.
The exploration and production of deepwater hydrocarbon reserves requires ever-more-complex and high-capital-value floating assets. There are a number of key drivers required to optimize profitable operations, including managing the integrity of the topside and hull while reducing cost and POB and complying with client, corporate, and regulatory requirements.
Floating production units can be designed for 25 years or more on station, and the new-generation ultradeepwater (UDW) drilling units also need to plan their integrity-management strategies without dry docking for extended periods (Fig. 1 above).
These requirements have driven the development of innovative methods for inspecting, testing, and maintaining pressure systems as well as hull structures, the latter sometimes not getting the integrity attention it deserves.
The HITS JIP was formed to address these issues, with membership from regulators, oil majors, class societies, lease operators, service companies, and educational bodies representing all sectors of the industry.
In-Service Hull Inspections for Avoiding Dry Docking Safely
01 February 2017