Tracerco Explorer™ subsea inspection technology for flow assurance


Global oil and gas service company, Tracerco, part of FTSE100 Johnson Matthey Plc, has launched an innovative new product that enables oil companies to quickly scan many kilometres of pipeline to detect the location of deposits causing flow assurance issues.

The unique technology, known as Explorer™, is able to screen subsea pipelines for content and deposit build-up at typical speeds of up to 100 metres per hour, meaning many kilometres of pipeline can be surveyed per day. Operators now have a convenient solution to the industry-wide problem of not being able to detect and locate blockages in subsea pipelines which can be many kilometres in length.

Explorer™ has been developed for use in conjunction with OTC Spotlight on New Technology 2015 winner, Discovery™, the breakthrough in subsea pipeline inspection  that gives detailed high resolution CT scan of subsea pipelines, distinguishing between wax, hydrate, asphaltene or scale deposition at density differences of 0.05g/cc. Both devices work without the need to remove the pipe coating material. Once Explorer has located the area of the suspected blockage, Discovery™ can be deployed to accurately characterise its precise nature.

Lee Robins, Head of Subsea Services at Tracerco, said: “Accurately detecting the location of blockages caused by a build-up of deposits is an on-going issue for the oil industry. Having listened to the needs of our customers, we are delighted to be able to launch Explorer™ – a speedy and innovative low-risk solution.

“Tracerco is now able to provide subsea operators with a fast screening means of locating their pipeline deposits and blockages, Explorer™ – followed by precision characterisation using Discovery™.”

As with Discovery™, Explorer™ is non-intrusive, scanning content from outside of the pipeline. There is no need to remove protective coatings or interrupt production to carry out the inspection, making it a cost-effective solution to flow assurance problems.

Explorer™ can operate at depths of up to 3,000m (10,000ft) and can cover pipe diameters from 2 to 60 inches. It has the ability to screen a variety of different piping systems: standard rigid pipe (coated or uncoated), pipe-in-pipe, bundle systems and flexibles.

Explorer™ detects the location of deposit build-ups by measuring the density profile of the pipeline and then analysing any detected anomalies. An abnormal density, in relation to the material flowing in the line, indicates a build-up of deposit. The tool provides a detailed profile showing mean densities of pipeline contents and amounts of deposit based on assumed densities. It has already been used on several subsea flowlines including a project in the North Sea, as well as a campaign in the Gulf of Mexico. So far Explorer™ has delivered excellent results for the customers who have used it, proving effective in deposit detection as well as being straight forward to deploy.

Discovery™ has won considerable acclaim from the industry for revolutionizing subsea pipeline inspection, winning the Pipeline Industries Guild Award in the Subsea category, 2014, the Innovation category at the 2015 Subsea UK Awards and most recently the prestigious OTC Spotlight on New Technology Award. Field proven, Discovery™ has completed hundreds of scans for several of Tracerco’s customers, and has successfully characterized deposits, as well as identify integrity issues within a range of flowline designs.

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