TWI has commenced a new project to advance the decommissioning of offshore structures.
12 July 2017
As a result of the Energy Act of 2008, there is a need to decommission a large number of the North Sea’s oil and gas infrastructure over the next 30 years, including some 600 fixed steel structures and 3000 pipelines.
In order to improve the flexibility, speed, and reliability of the process, TWI is developing a low-cost decommissioning technology for use in deep and hazardous waters. This will consist of a high-speed, flexible laser cutting solution that can be deployed remotely to avoid the need for divers. This technology should not only reduce the time taken to deploy when compared to competing methods, but also minimise the cost of subsea decommissioning.
The project will see the development of a prototype tooling system alongside UW laser cutting technology that will be effective for cutting 50mm thickness of mild steel at depths of up to 100 metres. When the technology and processes are in place, the SubSeaLase capabilities can be developed towards a post-project use.
In order to maximise effectiveness, the system will need to be flexible enough to cut 50mm steel and 100mm concrete structures remotely without geometry limitations, while the use of a non-contact laser process will eliminate the risk of mechanical jamming, thereby minimising down-time. Not only will this new process be four times faster than existing underwater cutting technologies, but it will also reduce costs by lowering the days at sea required to complete a job.
SubSeaLase will also be safer than existing methods by removing the need for divers due to the deployment of the ROV mounted with an underwater cutting head and fibre-delivered laser source and gas compressor, which will remain topside.
The unmanned operation will not only be safer for workers but, because it doesn’t require the use of chemicals, flammables, or explosives there will be low secondary waste, which will mean a more environmentally-friendly solution.
SubSeaLase is a UK collaborative project, funded under the competition 'Cleaner, more efficient conventional fuels, by Innovate UK.
TWI Ltd: Development of the underwater laser cutting technology and laser cutting procedures for relevant structures
Underwater Cutting Solutions: Project Coordination and development of SubSealase tooling
McDermott: Provision of industrial guidance from a Main Operator perspective
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