Tracerco develops Discovery™ for more applications


Following the phenomenal interest in its step out pipeline inspection tool, Discovery™, Tracerco, part of the FSTE 100 company, Johnson Matthey Plc has begun the next phase of development of the technology to target new applications.

Following customer feedback, Tracerco has commenced R&D work on further evolutions of the ground breaking technology, specifically for use on large rigid risers as well as a further version for smaller diameter pipelines, flowlines and jumpers (less than 12″ OD). Both versions will include the crawler mechanism developed for the existing tool.

Lee Robins, Head of Subsea Inspection at Tracerco said, “We have received a large number of enquiries from customers relating to very small diameter pipes, which are difficult to inspect by conventional methods (due to the presence of coatings) and deemed unpiggable. Since Discovery™, has the capability to inspect pipelines without the removal of the protective coating, it was a natural progression to design a version specifically suited to the smaller diameter pipes.”

“Inspecting risers also presents a new challenge for Discovery with specific emphasis on the splash zone, which is a crucial area for inspection. We are now well on the way to overcoming these specific challenges and hope to be in a position to launch this new variant of Discovery in 2015.”

Launched at the beginning of this year, Discovery™ is a major breakthrough in subsea pipeline inspection. For the first time oil companies are able to non-intrusively inspect complex subsea flowlines (including pipe in pipe, risers and pipe bundles) for both flow assurance issues and integrity flaws externally without removing any protective and insulation coatings. Discovery is currently being deployed on seabed pipeline inspection projects in the North Sea and Gulf of Mexico; the latter will involve inspection at 3000 metre water depth.

Discover™ was needed by the subsea pipeline industry due to its unique ability to take a 360 degree tomographic scan image of pipeline contents and pipe wall conditions. Until now this has not been possible without removing pipelines” protective coatings. The tomographic scan image produced is accurate to nearly a millimetre radial resolution, more detailed and accurate than anything currently on the market for non-intrusive pipeline inspection, with the additional advantage of zero interruption to pipeline operation. Discovery™ can inspect any subsea flowline within its diameter range regardless of complexity (such as caissons) without any risk of damage to the pipe.

Unlike alternative technologies such as ultrasonic and pulsed eddy current, Discovery is a more cost-effective way to provide operators assurance of the integrity of unpiggable coated pipelines as it eliminates the risk of corrosion posed by removing the coating.

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