Published Dec 11, 2003
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Statoil’s wholly owned subsidiary PipeCare, is now well positioned to pipe revenues back to Statoil, taking advantage of years of pipeline expertise. While their recent innovation Optopig, is getting most attention, President Ola Nestaas is keen to underline that PipeCare provides a whole range of services and expertise connected to pipelaying and maintenance.

Statoil recently announced that PipeCare has been given a contract for services relating to pipeline transport systems on the Norwegian Continental Shelf (NCS). The framework agreement is worth NOK 20-30 million. But just as important, the contract serves to prove PipeCare’s qualities, and help them secure contracts abroad.

‘The North Sea is of course the nearest and most obvious market,’ says PipeCare President Nestaas. But as we speak he has just come out from a meeting with Australian operator Woodside.

‘Australia is a market where we are confident to land contracts both for Optopig and other services in the near future,’ Nestaas agrees. ‘The same goes for Asia and the Middle East.’

‘The main reason for targeting these markets are that they have major offshore gas developments coming up soon,’ he explains. ‘With the expertise Statoil has built up during the past decades in the North Sea we are able to give valuable input to these developments.’

PipeCare is a very lean organisation, drawing expertise from Statoil when needed. ‘That makes us very efficient, and it also makes it possible for us to choose exactly the right people for each task.’

Nestaas is very confident in the development of PipeCare. ‘We now there is a market out there. We know for instance of many cases where expensive work has been done in changing pipes offshore, when in fact it turned out the pipes were not destroyed. Of course that leads to high and unnecessary expenses. With our Optopig we might have surveyed the pipes and saved the company those expenses.’

Contracts Abroad
PipeCare has already secured some contracts abroad. Their systems are being delivered to BP for its Nam Con Son gas project off Vietnam, in which Statoil previously had a stake. That contract covers key resources for the final phase of the development, along with information technology systems for operation and maintenance.

One contract has also been awarded to PipeCare by the Australian operator Woodside for expanding the transport system on an existing field off Western Australia.
‘Woodside wants a transfer of experience from the NCS, and aims to utilise technology which has been proven there, Nestaas says.

A framework agreement has also been concluded with Norway’s state-owned Gassco, covering assistance with pipeline technology. The first delivery under this deal, embracing expertise on condition monitoring of pipeline systems, procedures and philosophy, has already been initiated.

PipeCare was established in March 2001 to sell Statoil-developed pipeline technology and thereby create added value for this expertise. Its capabilities include concept evaluation, tie-in, testing, readying for operation, inspection, maintenance, repair and pipeline start-up. Among the company’s activities are the supply of solutions and services to other operators and engineering companies.

Seeing is Believing
PipeCare’s technology on condition monitoring of pipelines, the Optopig, is revolutionising. It is a compact in line inspection tool designed for detailed internal inspection of gas and condensate pipelines. The Optopig produces high-resolution 3D images by linescan camera technique and laser illumination. The Optopig inspects the entire geometry of the pipeline wall, in up to 1000km length in one run.

The Optopig has been successfully tested in a 50 km, 42-inch high-pressure gas pipeline. The test proves the Optopig Inspection System’s capability to collect high-resolution 2D and 3D images and profiles of the perimeter of the pipeline wall within acceptable tolerances and resolution. The collection of inspection data is performed simultaneously by eight CMOS sensors illuminated by eight laser beams. The combination of laser beam illumination and linescan recording technology provides an energy efficient, high resolution and high speed inspection and data collection, compared to conventional techniques.

The Optopig is fully autonomous, carrying its own power system, computer hardware, software and data storage. The recorded data can be displayed immediately after the survey.

Continuous inspection of up to 1000 km length at speed up to 5 m/sec is achievable. Measurement is performed without mechanical contact between pipe wall and sensors.

The Optopig consists of an approximately 1m long and 75 kg Optical Inspection Unit mounted inside a multi dimensional vehicle (Optopig Carrier). The Carrier is self-centering and equipped with spring loaded wheel suspension for smooth passage through the pipeline. The Optopig Carrier is constructed to negotiate multi diameter pipelines. The Optopig is available in any diameter range and combination of ranges from 36 to 56 inches. A multi diameter unit covering the range of 10 to 20 inches is currently under construction, which will feature upgrade possibilities including 24 to 34 inches.

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