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EM& training technicians for new technologies

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Oilfield Technology,

EM&I have always been introducing new technologies over the 35 years they've been involved in the asset integrity business.

They introduced rope access, and founded IRATA, digital radiography, and numerous other innovations. More recently they have led the JIP (Joint Industry Project) for the FPSO Research Forum called HITS (Hull Inspection Techniques & Strategy).

This has helped to produce other exciting innovations such as the ODIN diverless UWILD, and NoMan remote camera systems, using techniques borrowed from the nuclear industry. The basic idea is to eliminate the need to use divers or personnel in hazardous areas, working at height, or in confined spaces.

Introducing new technologies inevitably requires training or retraining technicians, to cope with the new skills required. EM&I have a Technology Centre in Cumbria (near Sellafield), which is the centre for nuclear research into inspecting and maintaining nuclear installations, so is the ideal location for training in the new technologies.

Regular training sessions take place every year for Team Leaders and Technicians, who have a 'hands on' experience led by experts in the new technologies. These are usually over a week or so, and have proved to be very successful. They are also supervised by experts on their first few pilot projects.

The new technologies also have the benefit of allowing the assets concerned - mostly FPSO, Drillships & Semi Submersibles - to remain on station and in operation whilst the work is carried out, with no downtime or penalties.

Executive Chairman of EM&I, Danny Constantinis commented: "Training is the key for the successful introduction of new technologies, as it's essential that the pilot projects go well. We work closely with our clients and the class societies on these, as we are all learning together. The JIP.for the FPSO Research Forum has been extremely successful in this respect, as all the innovations are industry driven".

"The future is even more exciting as we move into digitisation and statistical analysis of Risk Based Inspections (RBI) for pressure systems, HAE Ex equipment, structures, and hulls".

"Offshore assets such as FPSO, FLNG, FSRU vessels, Drillships, and Semi Submersibles, etc., have thousands of components which all need to be monitored, inspected, and maintained, for optimum operational efficiency and safety".

"Statistics are like radar or a microscope, as they allow us to see things we wouldn't normally see, so that we can hit the target with the minimum of reconnaissance. This helps to reduce the workscope to manageable proportions consistent with efficiency and safety. The average FPSO can have up to 20 000 - 30 000 items of HAE Ex equipment, so this approach is particularly important for safety, as EX equipment can cause explosions".

"Training and certification organisations will need to develop programmes and facilities to deal with these new requirements. Competency standards will also need to be agreed between the innovators, regulators and certification bodies. The days of sending a multi person inspection team using rope access to inspect tanks, piping, or hazardous area electrical equipment, or a twenty man dive team to inspect the hulls are becoming obsolete".

"Instead we will see inspection used as leading edge tool to confirm condition, accurately predicted by onshore engineers using statistical digitised methods, verified by a one or two man team of engineering inspectors with robotic tools. Much less time will be spent offshore, and a greater proportion onshore planning and analysing data" he concluded.

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