Asset Integrity: A bird’s eye view

Gregory Hale

October 1, 2015

Gregory Hale shows how web-based software utilizes high definition photos and video to extend the life of aging assets.

Screen capture of a web-based software solution that utilizes high definition photo and video technologies. Images from AIMS Global Consulting.

One offshore producer was looking at conducting a typical turn-around (TAR) out on the Gulf of Mexico, but the catch was time was important as was cutting costs while remaining safe.

There is no doubt TARs are expensive and time consuming, but also much needed. When you really look at it, you not only have the cost of the TAR itself, but the lost production. Even in the current down market, an offshore asset still produces US$2-3 million a day.

Under a normal scenario, the producer’s TAR scheduling was standard for the industry, scheduled eight months in advance. Then six months out, teams would deploy to the asset for a three-day tour, digital cameras, notepads, measuring wheels and tapes in hand.

“During the deployment six engineers took photos, notes, and measurements of all major systems and equipment scheduled for replacement, repair or servicing. In reality, the three-day tour was really five days, as the first day was traveling to the heliport at the Gulf of Mexico, and the fifth day the engineers traveled back from the asset,” said Rob Smith, Head of Americas for AIMS Global Consulting.

“After a weekend, the engineers met in the office to decipher their notes, pictures, sketches and measurements. Of all the information gathered, just about 80% of the documentation made sense,” Smith said. “The remaining 20% remained unusable due to bad photos, photos taken out of context, indecipherable hand-writing, and abbreviated field notes.”

“The next step was assembling work packages and bid packages. In this case the work packs and bid packages uploaded to an internal SharePoint site, which was better than storage on an individual’s laptop, but not optimal from a best practice and sustainability point of view,” Smith said. “Personnel turnover was another problem that affected the project. No one on the current TAR had participated on the previous TAR, and no one knew what went well and what did not last time – a key step in developing best practices for your asset.”

The bid packages then went out to qualified contractors to bid on the various pieces of work, such as painting and labeling, equipment replacement/modification, and heavy maintenance.

Tried and true ways of conducting business works in heady times, but in a $40/bbl world, things have to change for companies to stay efficient and competitive. That is where an automation-centered application comes into play, where it can help boost productivity and profitability while cutting down on unplanned downtime.

Corrosion caused by insulation which led to leaking pipes was not only an asset issue, it was also a safety problem.

Critical assets

The elements offshore can wreak havoc on installations as wind and water can corrode materials over time, while heat can distort structures. Minimizing maintenance costs and extending service life is essential. Asset integrity is therefore critical for offshore oil and gas producers.

Proper asset management is a prerequisite for any operation.

Ensuring asset integrity will provide a solid understanding of the condition of a platform’s critical equipment and an understanding of its repair and replacement needs. The importance of effective asset integrity management increases as the industry infrastructure continues to age.

Along those lines, from high definition photos and video to remotely operated aerial vehicles, there are different more high tech ways to ensure a more effective and least costly TAR.

In the Gulf of Mexico TAR case, primary and secondary engineering resources were able to meet on shore, in their office conference rooms and even sit at their desk and actually view the asset without being there. A total team emersion of subject matter experts was able to advantage of a web-based software solution that can utilize high definition, 360° spherical photo and video technologies, Smith said. That high tech jump start could boost the turn-around capabilities.

Rather than just looking at P&IDs, planning resources were able to view the actual asset in 360° high definition images. They could view the actual systems, associated P&IDs, related maintenance documentation and procedures all from the work computers, share the information on a big screen in the conference room and collaborate in real-time, take measurements, screen shots, and create bookmarks for important work areas.

On top of that, the entire engineering team ended up directly involved in the process and provided their input without transporting them offshore, saving 24 personnel on board (pob) days and six helicopter trips.

Extending life of assets

Asset life and extension issues for areas such as platform jackets, subsea structures and well assets are critical. But those solutions generally end up related to equipment. This, however, is not always the case topside where the impact of other issues can be equally important as traditional equipment deterioration based approaches.

This list, compiled from a paper written by Brian G. Hudson of ABB Global Consulting, illustrates typical issues culled from asset life extension studies delivered for North Sea installations ranging in age from over 30 to less than 10 years: