by Antonio Caraballo, Inspection and Integrity Management Services Director at ICR Group
It’s still a few weeks until COP28, but already there has been a call for the international climate summit to give more credence to the issue of methane emission reduction.
COP28 UAE President-Designate, Dr. Sultan bin Ahmed Al Jaber, recently said: “The oil and gas sector needs to up its game, do more and do it faster. Let’s aim to reach net-zero methane emissions by 2030.”
It follows a stark warning from the International Energy Agency (IEA) that although methane emissions from the global oil and gas industry fell by an estimated 10% in 2020, it was only due to producers slashing output in response to the historic shock of the COVID-19 crisis. It also warns that these emissions could rebound strongly without greater action by companies, policymakers and regulators.
Meanwhile, a 2022 study by researchers at Princeton University and Colorado State University signalled that the oil and gas industry may be falling short in its emissions measuring. It found that some estimates of methane emissions from offshore production in the UK have been severely underestimated for some time. This suggests that some of the methods widely used – in the UK and elsewhere – to calculate methane emissions rely on outdated or incomplete information, and therefore may not accurately represent actual emissions.
We also know that massive methane leaks, commonly referred to as super-emitter events, are still being reported around the world. To cite just one example, two major fields near the Caspian Sea were recorded as emitting combined methane emissions of 4.4 million tonnes – up to 427 tonnes per hour – in August 2022. (*EPR – commercial query)
The most common cause behind these events is equipment failure and if they aren’t identified quickly enough or prioritised, the leaks can last for weeks – resulting in significant environmental damage. They collectively signal that not all asset operators have an effective methane emission identification and remediation programme in place.
The threats of regulatory sanctions as well as reputational damage may influence the strategic response of operators. So too may the cost-effective gains of methane emission reduction; IEA analysis indicates that the costs of improving operations or making repairs to prevent leaks can often be paid for by the value of the additional gas that is consequently brought to market.
For many asset operators this is becoming a priority issue. Conventional identification and remediation methods are not as efficient or safe as they need to be. Using ground-level sensors, for example, simply cannot provide the necessary reach to capture leaks accurately, and therefore risks operators missing high levels of escaping methane.
Similarly, handheld sensors are available but present safety and accuracy challenges as well as representing a time-consuming and labour-intensive option.
It’s why a ‘top-to-bottom’ survey, using drones and an experienced integrity monitoring team, is increasingly being recognised as the best overall option when it comes to the identification and quantification of leaks.
Sky-Futures™, part of the ICR Group and possessing over 10 years of operating experience in the provision of critical asset inspection data and analysis, has partnered with industry-leading sensor technology from SeekOps, a company formed to bring NASA and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) technology used on Mars Rover missions to the terrestrial marketplace.
This partnership has been working with asset operators, not just in the offshore oil and gas sector but at onshore oil and gas facilities, as well as structures in the renewables sector, including petrochemical plants and biogas plants, to deliver a state-of-the-art, technology-first solution to methane emission detection.
By leveraging integrity monitoring teams, best-in-class sensors, advanced drones or unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) inspections, and actionable analytics, the partnership is supporting asset operators to decarbonise their operations, not only detecting but quantifying methane leaks as early as possible.
This innovative approach not only saves the asset operator significant time – UAV/drone inspection can cut the time in half compared to alternative methods – but reduces the risk to personnel by removing the need for rope access or scaffolding. In addition, it saves operators millions of dollars by avoiding asset shutdowns or disruption to day-to-day operations.
Recently, the team supported an operator by measuring methane emissions at four platforms in the Southern North Sea. To ensure no disruption to operations, the team conducted the surveys from an inter-field vessel. The use of state-of-the-art technology, combined with highly-experienced drone pilots and engineers, identified areas of methane emissions in real-time to ensure accurate measurements could be obtained.
Our data analysis and report provided the client with quantified methane emission results required for their baseline study. The results not only captured the expected emissions from the vents, but also identified locations of methane releases not identified by deck-based inspection techniques.
Furthermore, our Sky-Futures™ and Integrity Monitoring teams recently undertook a series of comprehensive methane surveys of an FPSO located in the North Sea. This included aerial quantification (asset level). Using drone technology, this solution enables us to detect, identify and quantify methane emissions on a site-wide scale. The consequent aerial emissions report provides a complete overview of emissions sources, ensuring a holistic measurement of assets. Our macro method pinpoints and quantifies methane emissions at the source level.
For this project, we assessed all production areas covering components such as flanges, connections, small bore tubing and valves to identify exact emission sources and allow for quick repairs. This process helped our client to compare and efficiently tackle the most significant sources.
Onshore facilities are also benefitting with established working techniques for drone systems and inspection teams.
Given the severity of the problem that methane emissions represent, we hope that the use of innovative solutions to identify leaks and support a more proactive approach to monitoring is profiled during COP28 to raise awareness of the issue and remedies available today.
With COP28 looming and regulatory scrutiny intensifying, asset operators need to prioritise the detection of methane emissions – not only because they are told to, but because it is good for the planet and their bottom line.
Antonio Caraballo, Inspection and Integrity Management Services Director, has nearly 20 years’ experience in the energy sector. COP28 will be the 28th United Nations Climate Change conference, held from November 30 to December 12 in Dubai.For more information, visit https://www.icr-world.com/what-we-do/inspection-integrity/sky-futures-uas-inspection/
We are pleased to announce that our composite inspection technology, INSONO™, has received accreditation from UKAS (The United Kingdom Accreditation Service). UKAS supports the delivery of quality assessment and conformity processes, benefiting businesses and organisations that specify or use accredited tests, measurements, inspections, or certification schemes. UKAS has granted accreditation to our organistion against the requirements of ISO/IEC 17020:2012. Accreditation provides consumers with confidence in an increasingly complex, dynamic, and global marketplace by ensuring consistently high standards in the quality of purchased products or services.
Our clients can have confidence in our ability to meet their needs and deliver services with competence, impartiality, and independence in accordance with recognised international standards and best practices.
What is INSONO™?
INSONO™ is a solution that allows for the extension of defined life repairs, reducing waste and avoiding high-carbon emissions associated with traditional steel replacement alternatives. Developed by ICR, INSONO™ validates the condition and integrity of composite repairs, providing operators with assurance in the installation, long-term performance, and evidence to support life extension of the repair.
INSONO™ complements ICR’s Technowrap™ range and assures operators that their composite repairs are fit for purpose and comply with regulatory body guidelines on inspection criteria.
INSONO™ can detect defects in three main areas of concern: the bond line, interlaminar dis-bonds, and the steel substrate. A scanner provides 3D models and visual representations of the repair, allowing for precise dimensions to be used. Subsequently, an automated visual inspection report and 3D model are provided.
This technology may also enable composite repairs to be carried out in higher-risk locations, subject to risk assessment and engineering validation, where this may not have been previously considered.
Contact Antonio Caraballo, Inspection and Integrity Management Services Director to find out more email@example.com
This integrated approach to implementing composite repair solutions can reduce carbon emissions by 66% compared to traditional methods, says Antonio Caraballo, Inspection & Integrity Management Services Director, ICR, UK
The repair and maintenance of assets has always been an important element in the oil and gas industry and is essential to ensuring the reliability and safety of operations. Continuing to be a priority in today’s energy industry, throughout the transition to explore greener energy alternatives, the importance of corrosion control remains at the forefront of operator’s minds. Inadequate or infrequent inspection and management of assets can lead to a range of risks including production failure and loss of containment, potentially leading to catastrophic impacts on the personnel, plant and environment. As a vital factor in optimising the productivity, production, and downtime of operations whilst mitigating potential risks, corrosion control is essential to minimising operational and repair costs and extending asset life.
With the risk of health and safety issues and disruption to operations, corrosion can also compromise the appearance, performance, strength, and load-bearing ability of assets. Corrosion management will allow the operator to mitigate any safety and environmental hazards, as well as prevent any production and financial losses. As a key challenge facing the industry today, corrosion can lead to production delays, equipment failure, operational expenditure and safety hazards.
ICR Integrity is an industry-leading, technology-enabled provider of specialist repair, inspection and integrity management solutions to a diverse range of industries. The company’s well-established repair and maintenance division offers clients world class repair solutions providing greater asset uptime and reliability while saving time and cost compared to traditional repairs. The newly formed specialist inspection and integrity division reflects the company’s focus on innovation and technology advancements in support of its global clients’ integrity management requirements.
The traditional oil and gas industry, which ICR has a strong presence in, requires solutions that provide validation and assurance on the condition of their assets, as well as any repairs that have been undertaken. With a strong focus on the environment when carrying out testing, avoiding carbon intensive techniques is essential to the sector. Many ageing assets have composite repairs reaching the end of their design life, meaning there is an increased requirement to revalidate or extend the life of the repairs, allowing operators to avoid costly replacement options that may require a full shutdown of the asset. Regulatory bodies, have a strong focus on the integrity management and condition monitoring of repairs. Being able to inspect the defined life repairs is therefore a key enabler in ensuring safe and reliable operations for extended time periods.
Based on the principles of acoustic inspection methods with pitch and catch, ICR Integrity’s innovative new Non-Destructive Testing (NDT) technique, called INSONO. It provides resonance and mechanical impedance analysis to detect and size any flaws in the inspection of engineered composite repairs. The technology has been validated by The Welding Institute (TWI) and has patent and UKAS accreditation pending. A hand-held scanner creates 3D models and visual representation of the composite repair, allowing for precise dimensions to be used in the assessment. Any defects in three main areas of concern can then be detected – in the bond line, the interlaminar and the steel substrate.
With over 30 years’ experience, ICR is internationally recognised as a service-leader and a key-player in the ongoing development and adoption of composite technology. INSONO complements its industry renowned Technowrap™ range of engineered composite repairs and assures operators that their composite repairs are fit for purpose, satisfying regulatory body guidelines regarding inspection criteria. It also allows for the extension of defined life repairs reducing waste whilst avoiding high-carbon emissions from traditional steel replacement alternatives.
Inspection techniques currently available are not practical to deploy in the field and many are unable to access complex geometries with a single technique or product. INSONO is hand-carried and requires only one Technician, meaning inspections can be carried out in higher risk areas where they may not have been previously considered.
ICR is internationally recognised as a service-leader and a key player in the ongoing development and adoption of composite technology. The versatile product range offers practical and cost-effective rehabilitation of pressure systems and structural components with minimal disruption to operations, typically delivering valuable cost savings. The repair systems can not only be applied to live systems with no impact on production, but also offer a low greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions alternative to steel replacement. Replacing large steel equipment is energy intensive and requires the production of a new part. By repairing their equipment, ICR’s clients avoid the emissions associated with steel production and transportation as well as the energy required to perform the replacement.
Technowrap™ repair solutions can be engineered for anywhere between 2 and 20 years, which can be equal to the lifetime of a traditional replacement and as such are directly comparable to a replacement solution, depending on the anomaly type. ICR compared the carbon impact of using its repair system technology for the repair of a 2-metre section of 8” carbon steel pipework (85.1 kg) located 225 miles offshore from Aberdeen. The findings established that the repair system reduced emissions by 66% compared to the traditional replacement method.
On a recent project in the Northern North Sea, an operator client asked ICR to review various sections of pipework that had sustained severe corrosion resulting in wall thinning below the minimum allowable wall thickness of the pipework. Due to the location of the pipework being underneath the helideck, the client required minimal impact on production and an engineered Technowrap™ composite solution was chosen as the most efficient, engineered solution. The scope of work saw the delivery of the repair with a 20 year repair lifetime. Technowrap™ trained personnel installed the 2K materials, completing the repair with a design temperature of the line of 90ºC.
As there was no shutdown required, the solution offered was extremely cost effective. Due to the complexity of the location (under the helideck), ICR mobilised a multi skilled rope access trained composite repair team who implemented the repairs, removing scaffolding requirements. The appropriate risk assessments were carried out to minimise any potential risks associated with the work. In order to achieve the required adhesion grit blasting to the cleanliness standard of SA 2.5 was completed prior to the application.. As a result, the scope was delivered on time, within budget and with no incidents or accidents. The client was given the further assurance through the bespoke engineering and design calculations for each repair, carried out to code requirements in accordance with ISO 24817 and ASME PCC-2.
With safety, environment, efficiency and reliability as a top priority in the industry, ICR is leading the ongoing development and adoption of composite technology to support operators globally. Actively working in close collaboration with clients to ensure the structural integrity of assets is maintained with minimal disruption to operations, ICR is able to support clients on their journey to sustainability.
With extensive experience dealing with some of the most challenging projects in the industry, ICR’s integrated approach to implementing composite repair solutions and specialist engineered clamp designs can reduce emissions by 66% compared to other methods. With sustainable operations at the forefront of the industry’s agenda, this further allows clients to repair and maintain their assets to avoid costly operational disruption and potential safety and environmental hazards.
To view this article in World Pipelines click here