Live corrosion monitoring system

Paul Boughton

 A breakthrough in integrity monitoring system signals step change in data availability, enabling better decision-making for oil and gas facilities

Monitoring systems specialist Permasense has announced the commercial availability of a new system for monitoring the integrity of oil and gas infrastructure.

The system, developed in partnership with Imperial College London and BP, heralds a new age of frequent, repeatable wall thickness monitoring that will give corrosion engineers, inspectors, planners and plant managers previously unavailable insights into the condition and capability of critical oil and gas assets.

The Permasense system has been proven in operation at BP's European refineries and in the US as part of BP's Refining & Logistics Technology program, and is being used at BP refineries world-wide.

Corrosion monitoring itself presents significant technological and practical challenges. Inspections typically take place at infrequent intervals, are expensive to perform and offer little chance of the consistency needed to accurately identify wall thickness trends at an early stage. The Permasense system, based on a network of permanently positioned, ultrasonic wall thickness measurement sensors, enables better decision-making by providing more consistent and robust corrosion data on-demand at no incremental cost.

This system, developed by one of the world's leading teams in the field of non-destructive evaluation at Imperial College London, is based on a patented, waveguide-mounted sensor design. The sensors can be permanently attached to pipes operating in extreme conditions - temperatures from -40°C to 550°C - and difficult-to-access locations. The sensors are linked via a wireless network to provide data directly to the user for standalone viewing or integration into other plant monitoring systems. The sensors have ATEX and FM approval in Europe, the US and Australia.

Dr Charles Cameron, Head of Research & Technology for BP's Refining & Marketing segment, comments: "By deploying this technology globally, BP has seen a step change in the capability of our integrity monitoring activities. We are proud of the role we have played in the development of a technology that we believe will be of enormous benefit to the oil and gas industry as a whole."

Professor Peter Cawley of the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Imperial College, and a co-founder of Permasense, adds: "Everyone at Imperial is pleased to see the results of a successful university/industry development programme being taken to market. It's always rewarding to apply our expertise to address a real-world business issue."

Dr Peter Collins, CEO Permasense, adds: "The experience gained in proving the system with BP has shown our technology can make a real difference in an industry facing new challenges every day. We are relishing the prospect of taking our solution to the wider oil and gas market and demonstrating how it will enable managers, corrosion engineers, inspectors and planners to make better informed decisions to the benefit of both their business and the environment."

Permasense was first to market with its robust corrosion monitoring system. Based on a patented, waveguide-mounted ultrasonic sensor that can be permanently fitted to pipework operating under extreme conditions, the system has been proven in application at BP refineries in Germany and the US as part of BP's Refining & Logistics Technology programme.

The Permasense system delivers previously unavailable insight into pipework integrity into oil and gas facilities enabling inspectors, refinery managers and production planners to make more informed business and safety decisions, and reducing the overall cost of corrosion and erosion monitoring.

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