If technology innovation is a motor of progress and efficiency in the oil and gas industry, technical qualification (TQ) is the final road test. TQ processes gather and document evidence that components, equipment and systems will function reliably within specific limits and acceptable levels of confidence.
DNV GL’s global TQ services address early-stage concept evaluation and execution, putting qualified new technology to work. The company’s systematic and structured risk-based TQ process and procedure, described in Recommended Practice (RP) DNV-RP-A203 , has been adopted by many customers globally for qualifying new technology.
Collectively, 18 DNV GL laboratories across three continents offer longstanding expertise and state-of-the-art facilities in: failure investigation; flow testing and calibration; seven full-scale test laboratories; materials qualification and testing; third-party testing of software; battery and energy storage testing; environmental services; and high power and high voltage testing. With its laboratories complemented by advisory offices in 35 countries, DNV GL can provide valuable insight to customers operating in almost any location.
DNV GL’s qualification services have been applied to more than 1,000 different technologies since the publication of DNV-RP-A203 in 2001. It is even more important in an environment in which oil prices are expected to remain lower for longer, according to Espen Cramer, global service director for technical advisory, DNV GL - Oil & Gas.
“The industry needs to do things differently in the new reality of low oil prices and high operating costs,” he observed. “Regulatory regimes remain strict, however; requiring that new cost-efficient technologies and solutions are at all times qualified according to best industry practice and recognized procedures.”
More fundamentally, companies want to know that equipment and components are safe and actually work as intended, he added. “The industry has invested in costly, highly-advanced installations, and depends on these generating revenue as intended over the operational life.
To ensure this, the management of potential safety, environmental and health risks has high priority in TQ. Failure of even a minor component could delay production start-up, or hugely impact on operational production volumes and revenue streams. Rigorous attention to high-risk items is therefore of critical importance so that technology works as intended.”
DNV GL is seeing increased demand for its recognized TQ in today’s market, Cramer said. “This applies in particular to the qualification of new cost-efficient technologies to reduce the overall cost level for the industry.”
DNV GL’s global portfolio of laboratories and testing facilities plays a necessary and important and central role in technology qualification. They each offer unique capabilities that suit individual customer requirements. For example:
• The company’s 5,500 square metre materials and structural laboratory in Singapore is the largest independent laboratory in Southeast Asia
• The Flow Centre, UK, is one of the world’s largest high-pressure natural gas flow facilities. With available pressures up to 60 bar, and flow rates up to 30 million standard cubic metres per day, extensive pipework, meters and valves can be fitted into its 90-metre long test area
• The 3,500-hectare Spadeadam Testing and Research Centre, UK, is unique in its state-of-the-art equipment and capacity to undertake full-scale tests to qualify and verify technology through destructive and non-destructive tests in realistic environments.
“Our breadth of technical expertise and geographic coverage is exceptional,” Cramer said. “We can scale things down for testing, but using the actual, full-scale object is the real test, as it removes scaling uncertainties. Financial savings from full-scale testing can be 100 times greater than testing costs because enhanced knowledge and lower uncertainty allow reduced conservatism in design. Examples of goals for full-scale testing by DNV GL include avoidance of crack propagation in pipelines, and the establishment of actual capabilities and operational life of mooring chains and ropes.”
Synergies across DNV GL’s laboratories mean greater possibilities for customers. “Our portfolio makes it easier to deliver a robust, cost-effective TQ programme involving complex testing,” said Gustav Heiberg, business development leader, DNV GL - Oil & Gas. “This typically involves different tests, and using the most experienced facility for each reduces the degree of uncertainty throughout the execution of the test program.”
In one recent example, DNV GL’s Høvik and Bergen laboratories in Norway each delivered part of a TQ programme for equipment manufacturer MHWirth’s next generation, marine drilling riser connector, the Quick Turn Riser (QTR) 4000-LSTM.
A mating test was carried out, and subsequent pressure tests at Høvik certified that the main connector withstood a pressure of 7,500 pound per square inch. Full-scale tests at Bergen confirmed the ability to withstand load sharing at a maximum 25,000 kilonewtons, and documented the system’s response to low-cycle assembly wear.
The connector was found to be compliant with Offshore Standard DNVGL-OS-E101 Drilling Plant, July 2015 and Offshore service specification DNVGL-SI-0166 Verification for compliance with Norwegian shelf regulations, July 2015. A Type Approval certificate was granted earlier this year.
DNV GL’s combination of laboratories and advisory services is another competitive strength, Heiberg added. “We know what and how to test, but can also explain why. The integrated approach lets us adapt test programmes to provide more flexibility. Some customers regard us as a one-stop-shop for TQ, and we work hard to ensure that if a client asks us the same question in Singapore and Brazil, for example, they will get the same answer.”