Oil and Gas Technology Centre backs North Sea projects


A new oil and gas technology body is to co-fund three projects which aim to slash the cost of inspecting and maintaining offshore infrastructure.

The not-for-profit Oil and Gas Technology Centre will invest more than £1.6m in the projects.

They include the development of "a new generation" of drones for remote inspections and an electromagnetic method of inspecting corroded pipework.

The centre hopes to see inspection and maintenance costs cut by 50%, by 2021.

It was launched in Aberdeen in February with £180m of funding from the UK and Scottish governments.

Its goals include "unlocking the full potential" of the UK North Sea and anchoring the industry's supply chain in north-east Scotland.

'Advanced drones'

In one of the new projects, UAV firm Air Control Energy aims to deliver "a step change in the capability and functionality" of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for remote inspection of oil and gas facilities.

The technology centre said: "These advanced drones could be 20 times faster than traditional inspection techniques and reduce costs by 50% in comparison to rope access methods."

The centre is also backing TRAC Oil and Gas on a new electromagnetic method of checking corroded pipework under insulation and composite wrap materials.

The third project, with Deepwater Oil Tools, involves a new type of articulated joint designed to enable drilling operations in rough weather conditions.

According to the centre, it could lead to savings worth tens of millions of pounds a year.

Oil installation in North Sea

Since its launch in February, the technology organisation has set up five "solutions centres" - asset integrity, well construction, small pools, digital and decommissioning - to facilitate collaboration with companies on challenges facing the industry.

Those who have signed up include major operators Total, Chevron and Nexen, as well as a number of IT and subsea technology specialists.

Total and Chevron have also invited the centre to join them in a number of offshore field trials, mainly involving offshore inspection in the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS).

The trials are due to be completed by October.

Oil and Gas Technology Centre chief executive Colette Cohen, said: "Since our launch in February 2017, we've screened almost 200 technologies and have an excellent pipeline of opportunities, with operating companies now facilitating field trials on the UKCS.

"It's exciting to approve investment of £1.6m in our first three projects and we look forward to helping these innovative companies take their concepts from early stage development through to deployment in the oil field."