Where technology meets competence
DNV GL’s new technology centres in Bergen, Norway, are equipped with state-of-the-art equipment, but it is the expertise of DNV GL personnel that makes the difference.
Located in a modern science park in Bergen, Norway, DNV GL’s Materials and Corrosion Technology Centre and its sister facility, the Technology Centre for Offshore Mooring and Lifting, are only two years old. But both facilities are staffed by personnel with decades of experience working to improve safety performance, system reliability and ways to reduce costs for companies operating in the shipping and offshore industries. “We are proud of our new home but recognize that what sets us apart from other, similar testing facilities is the combination of our people, our global network and state-of-the-art equipment,” says Business Development Leader Hans-Erik Berge.
Opened in 2016, the new facilities provide a broad range of services. “The Materials and Corrosion Technology Centre is dedicated to investigating failures and testing material characteristics and performance with respect to corrosion resistance,” Berge explains. “The Technology Centre for Offshore Mooring and Lifting performs large-scale testing of fibre ropes, mooring chains, steel wires and other components such as lifting accessories and oilfield risers. Together, these centres offer a unique combination of independent testing, analysis and theoretical expertise.”
Berge notes that the opening of the new technology centres comes at a good time, especially for the oil and gas industry. “As existing subsea infrastructure ages and exploration and production in deepwater continues, corrosion risk has become a growing concern,” explains Berge. “At the same time, tighter budgets have encouraged offshore companies to develop innovative ways to reduce costs, keeping our personnel in both centres busy.”
Berge says that the technology centres are state-of-the-art, but DNV GL draws on decades of expertise in helping companies active in the shipping, aquaculture and oil and gas industries manage a broad range of challenges. “Apart from having operated labs here in Bergen for decades, DNV GL has a global network of laboratories and test sites that share knowledge and best practices,” he says. “The quality of our personnel has helped us secure the trust of key industry players who rely on timely, accurate and independent research and analysis. Our new technology centres enable us not only to do more but also to work more efficiently.”
The Materials and Corrosion Technology Centre, located close to University of Bergen, is equipped with advanced metallographic facilities to cut, mount, grind and polish equipment for integrity testing. Analytical tools include a new scanning electron microscope (SEM), energy dispersive spectroscope (EDS) and physical testing equipment to measure hardness, grain size and the effects of long-term exposure to the corrosive properties of hydrogen sulphide. These tools enable lab engineers to analyse general and localized corrosion, coating degradation, material compatibility, stress corrosion cracking, corrosion fatigue, thermal fatigue, high-temperature corrosion, microbiologically influenced corrosion and fracture mechanics.
Erik Sverre, Technical Manager — Laboratories, says DNV GL performs failure investigations, customizes test set-ups for evaluating the performance of different coatings solutions and works to manage specialized corrosion protection projects. “Access to the SEM and EDS is certainly an advantage, but we mostly rely on physical testing,” he says. “For example, by simulating different conditions in the lab, such as water temperature, salinity, wave action and physical stress, we can measure and analyse how coatings protect assets over time. And to ensure the testing is as accurate as possible, the facility is equipped with a two-kilometre pipeline that pumps natural seawater from a 100-metre depth outside of Bergen directly into the lab.”
DNV GL also provides independent, third-party root cause analysis to help settle claims. “Often these projects involve multiple stakeholders with different views on what went wrong,” he says. “In the case of a coating failure, the owner may blame the yard, the yard may blame the product and the supplier may blame the application process. Our role is to reach an unbiased conclusion so the matter can be settled, and hopefully, be avoided in the future.”
Finding success in failure analysis
In addition to failure analyses, DNV GL performs risk mitigation, verification testing and quality assurance during production, among other projects. “Failure of the smallest component can represent a significant risk to worker safety and the environment, to say nothing of financial losses in the event an asset must be shut down for unscheduled maintenance,” says Øystein Bjaanes, Principal Engineer. “By performing root cause analysis, we are not only helping customers improve safety and environmental performance but also provide solid data that helps them understand critical business risks.”
In addition to a decade of lab work with DNV GL, Bjaanes has experience working as an engineer for a multinational subsea contractor. “During my time working offshore, I became familiar with the complexities of supply chain logistics on big projects, how oil majors work with different manufacturers and what priorities drive their approach to project management,” he says. “In the oil and gas industry, understanding what is at stake for different actors helps us get to the right answers faster.”
Bjaanes says that while the team is engaged in a broad range of projects, much of his work is related to failure investigation. “While each case is different, many material failures can be traced back to errors in the manufacturing process, e.g. bad welds or unsuccessful heat treatment, or gaps in design, operations and maintenance,” he says. “We have created a database where we can track each project and when we see the same issue come up over and over again, we offer recommendations to fabrication yards, project owners and manufacturers to help them avoid repeating mistakes. We are making a real effort to be proactive, not reactive.”
In one case, DNV GL conducted a number of failure analyses caused by hydrogen induced stress cracking (HISC). Based on material research and root cause analysis of these failures, DNV GL established a joint industry project to derive a guideline for safe use of duplex materials. As a result, a Recommended Practice (DNVGL-RP-F112, Duplex stainless steel – design against hydrogen induced stress cracking) for duplex stainless steel subsea equipment exposed to cathodic protection was created, which has become the global industry standard for preventing HISC. Similar outcomes have resulted for instance from failure analysis of fasteners, thruster gears, hydraulic piston rods and anchor damage to pipelines.
DNV GL’s investment in Bergen also includes the Technology Centre for Offshore Mooring and Lifting. Located in a separate building with more than 2,000 m2 floor space, the centre is equipped with three testing machines for fibre ropes, mooring chains, steel wires and other components, supported by two 10-tonne cranes to lift test specimens. Principal Engineer Kurt Eide says the site houses one of the largest tensile testing machines in the world. “It has a 2,900-tonne-load capacity, roughly equivalent to the weight of 600 elephants,” he says. “And the extended 20-metre test bed is ideal for both static and dynamic tests.”
Eide says that while the load capacity is important, the real value of both machines is in the control system, also enabling programming of test sequences. “DNV GL has been testing fibre ropes for decades, but now we have larger machines equipped with multiple sensors so we can measure data with greater accuracy,” he says. “We can also calibrate systems to achieve specific load variables to simulate different conditions. For example, we recently set up a test rig for analysing how ropes behave when running over a sheave to calculate heave compensation during a subsea lift.”
Most of the work done in the Technology Centre for Offshore Mooring and Lifting revolves around qualification of new systems. “The accuracy and flexibility of the test facilities is used by some operators during the front-end engineering and design (FEED) phase to optimize mooring systems. Others use the facilities to provide third-party testing of systems developed by competing suppliers,” he says. “Customers can witness tests from a viewing area protected by bulletproof glass and review tests in slow motion, thanks to an array of high-speed cameras.”
Safer, smarter, greener
Hans-Erik Berge notes that there is growing demand for services at the Bergen technology centres both in Norway and internationally, and with each new case, the organization builds competence. “As a test facility, we collect a lot of data on corrosion, coatings and mooring lines,” he says. “At any given time we are engaged in different JIPs with relevant industry stakeholders and regularly participate in industry meetings, seminars and workshops. While the technology centres do operate as a business, our work is aligned with DNV GL’s core mission: safeguarding life, property and the environment.”