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Asset integrity in oil & gas

Asset integrity in oil & gas

By Tsvetana Paraskova

 

Asset integrity, asset integrity management (AIM), and asset integrity management systems (AIMS) ensure that oil and gas facilities run smoothly and efficiently during their lifetime and are safely decommissioned when their production and/or exploitation lifespan come to an end.  

Asset integrity, including maintenance and inspection, ensure that major accident hazards are prevented.
On-time and well-executed inspection and maintenance prevent unplanned outages, reduce downtime, save costs, and most of all, improve safety and could save lives.

The oil and gas industry are looking to continuously improve and optimise the maintenance of assets to ensure higher efficiency and to minimise risks of a major hazard accident. 

According to Research and Markets, the global market for asset integrity management is set to rise at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9.41 per cent by 2024, to reach US$36.079 billion in five years’ time, up from the US$21.031 billion the market was worth in 2018.

Since the 2015-2016 downturn, the ability of AIM services to significantly drive down the cost of inspection, maintenance, and repair while improving the overall reliability and safety of a facility at the same time, has led to the growing popularity of AIM services and systems. Yet, the market growth has been impacted by a shortage of the required pool of skilled resources, ResearchAndMarkets said in its report on April 2019.

Despite these possible growth hurdles, the asset integrity market is a vital part of every stage of the oil and gas industry. Maintenance and inspection are important for every field, basin, and facility, especially in mature areas like most of the North Sea where asset infrastructure is aging.

In the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS), every offshore installation has a Safety Case that demonstrates the ability to control major accident risks, the Health & Safety Report 2018 of Oil & Gas UK says. According to this latest report, the number of significant hydrocarbon releases continues to decrease year on year, while major releases have plateaued.

“This reduction has been supported by the focus on reducing safety-critical maintenance backlog, which continued to deliver improvements in installation average backlog in 2017,” Trevor Stapleton, Health and Safety Manager, Oil & Gas UK, said in the foreword of the report.

The industry has an asset integrity Key Performance Indicator (KPI) scheme which uses the data provided by Oil & Gas UK member companies on a voluntary basis at the end of every quarter.

At the UK Oil & Gas Authority (OGA), the Asset Stewardship Task Force works to improve asset stewardship in the UKCS area by leading four working groups, focused on production efficiency, reserves progression, integrity and asset stewardship, and cross-industry learning. 

The working group focused on integrity and asset stewardship identified in 2018 the need for increased industry collaboration in order to boost asset integrity and extend operating life of facilities.

“The deployment of improved asset integrity technologies could deliver direct industry gains related to OPEX savings and higher than otherwise production and reserves recovery. It would also provide support to future UKCS developments (e.g. Small Pools) by extending access to infrastructure; develop UK supply chain expertise; and improve safety,” the OGA says in the review of one of its key themes, asset integrity.  
In today’s digital era, technology plays an important role in helping inspection, maintenance, and repair of remote offshore installations.

Aberdeen-based Oil & Gas Technology Centre (OGTC) is working with industry to address two key challenges the UKCS area is facing—process vessel inspection (VI) and corrosion under insulation (CUI).   
These two challenges have become the focus of OGTC’s Solution Centre which aims to find cost-effective alternative solutions to enable uninterrupted production during inspection and reduce risk for workers who would have to otherwise enter into confined spaces. 

The OGTC, in collaboration with companies, has been developing nonintrusive inspection (NII) and robotics for inspection and maintenance at oil and gas facilities. 

In one project, the OGTC, in collaboration with ABB, carried out a survey of major operators, which showed that the adoption of non-intrusive inspection technology for inspecting process pressure vessels could deliver increased production and lower maintenance costs worth up to £242 million per year to the UKCS.

Non-intrusive inspection could boost production efficiency and at the same time, improve safety, and reduce risks for workers, according to the survey.
In a field trial with Total E&P UK, the OGTC and the company found that NII could “deliver significant cost,

safety and efficiency benefits compared with traditional intrusive methods.”
Increased adoption of technology by the oil and gas industry and the latest digital innovations —AI, machine learning, robotics, automation —have the potential to reduce downtime and costs, boost efficiencies in operations, and reduce health and safety risks for offshore workers.

Published: 28-09-2019
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