Launch of joint project to improve subsea integrity

Paul Boughton

International energy consultancy Xodus Group and Dutch innovation company TNO will coordinate a Joint Industry Programme (JIP) with key industry players BP, Shell, Statoil, Total, Lundin, FMC Technologies and Aker Solutions, to carry out pioneering research into the role of multiphase flow induced vibration in the integrity of offshore piping systems.

The JIP into multiphase flow induced vibration will be coordinated by Xodus across three phases, over three years. Phase 1 of the JIP is expected to be completed by autumn 2014.

The ultimate goal is to contribute to industrial capability of determining the likelihood of piping fatigue due to excitation from multiphase flow. This will be carried out by examining the amplitude and frequency characteristics of dynamic forces that are generated by ‘steady state’ multiphase flow in piping systems (whether subsea and topsides) across a range of flow regimes. This will encompass slugging through to dispersed/annular flow, and includes wet gas. Potential benefits could include improving screening, simulation and prediction models through the use of Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) and empirical methods.

Xodus and TNO will work together to deliver the technical objectives of the project. Unlike previous studies undertaken at relatively small scale, this study will focus on industrial scale piping. TNO will carry out the bulk of the test work at its facilities in The Netherlands, while Xodus will project manage the scheme and carry out analysis of the results and the majority of the CFD studies.

Rob Swindell is global lead – Vibration Engineering with Xodus. He commented: “It’s a groundbreaking initiative. As flow rates increase and E&P goes deeper and into more harsh environments, subsea equipment is becoming more complex, and this JIP aims to enable its participants to carry out more accurate design calculations and prediction work. This could help them in their work to maintain piping integrity, with resulting benefits both for risk management and potentially for production.”

Nathalie Descusse-Brown, subsea riser and flowline engineer with BP, is chairing the JIP steering committee. She said: “Methodologies are available to assess flow induced vibration fatigue failure in topsides and subsea systems for single-phase flow, but we want to be able to better characterise the forcing function due to multiphase flow. The aim of this study is to help us do this, extending intelligence from small scale laboratory tests to ‘industrial scale’ piping systems. By joining efforts, the JIP participants are reaffirming their commitment to effectively manage this potential threat to piping integrity.”

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