Discovery™ completes successful deployment in the Gulf of Mexico


Discovery™, the world’s first subsea CT scanner for flowlines, has successfully completed the first deep-water deployment on Shell-operated flowlines in the Gulf of Mexico.

Discovery™ was developed by Tracerco, part of the FTSE100 Johnson Matthey Plc, in response to an industry need for a non-invasive method of scanning subsea flowlines. The technology is used to establish the integrity of subsea pipeline assets.

In total, Discovery™ scanned ten flowlines including jumpers, steel catenary risers, and pipe in pipe flowlines all of varying diameters. Over 250 CT scan images over a pipeline length of 50,000 feet, at depths down to 4,200 feet, were generated. In the Gulf of Mexico, based on such data, Shell was able to build a complete profile of their pipeline, which helped to confirm the condition of the asset.

Shell undertook a comprehensive technology review to select an inspection solution to support safe, efficient, and competitive operations.

Discovery™ offers three key advantages over alternative inspection technologies:

  • The device attaches to the outside of the flowline, allowing the inspection campaign to be conducted while production continues;
  • There is no need to remove the insulation coating on the flowline, minimising the risk of flowline damage or of the build-up of hydrates;
  • Scan image data is available in real time, allowing engineers to rapidly evaluate and respond to any integrity and flow assurance problems.

Jim Bramlett, Business Development Manager for Tracerco’s Subsea Technologies division, said: “Using Discovery™ we were able to quickly deliver data, drip feeding the scans through to Shell engineers then providing an in-depth analysis once we had all the information. We understand that for each day a pipeline is out of action, or not performing at peak, there are significant financial implications: safety, speed and efficiency were key drivers in developing this cutting-edge technology.”

The planning, preparation and execution of the inspection campaign was a joint effort which provided access to the Discovery™ CT scan images, and Tracerco’s expert interpretation, within the same day.

Discovery™ scans pipelines from the outside to gain an accurate picture of the condition of the pipe and the flow, with no need to remove the protective coating and no interruption to production. It is a highly accurate, rapid and low risk solution to gaining information on flowlines including pipe-in-pipe and bundle systems. Discovery™ provides a 360 degree, high resolution scan of pipeline contents and pipe walls in real time, with defect resolution of 1mm.

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