New innovation forum spurs pipeline industry needs

The offshore pipelines industry faces significant challenges as oil and gas companies and contractors globalise and move into deeper, remoter and colder waters

To reduce costs and bring forward first oil and gas, industry players widely agree that there is a need for more harmonisation through commonly agreed standards, guidelines and recommended practices. At the same time, solutions need to be optimised for specific needs and to comply with varying regulatory regimes.

Innovation is key here and DNV GL believes that the scope and scale of the challenges point towards greater collaboration over research and development (R&D).

“As an independent third party, we can be the industry catalyst to ensure that R&D happens and is put into the public domain,” said Harald Wathne, project manager for the company’s inaugural Pipeline Innovation Forum

“We want to support the industry with a platform to harmonise R&D and ease cooperation. The offshore pipeline industry is 40 years old now. It’s time to talk about the next steps in its development.”

The Forum launched in March as a two-day event in Høvik, Norway, and attracted leading industry players such as Subsea 7, Tata Steel and Statoil in addition to DNV GL’s own experts.

Papers for the event and learning points from its workshop have been made public on the company website. They include a presentation from Statoil on how pipeline innovation can meet business needs, and IntecSea’s take on returning challenges in pipeline components.

Why was it established? “Many conferences in the pipeline industry hear presentations of solutions to current problems, but there was nothing focused on the future, the challenges and the needs. We want to arrange a technical seminar, something different and new, based on the motto: shaping the future offshore pipeline technology” Wathne explained.

Aside from discussion of future technical needs, there was “learning about how to succeed with innovation and how your own expertise may be a hindrance to developing new solutions to technical challenges, and looking at things from a new perspective and being really innovative.”

Pipeline components were discussed in detail. “There is no consistency in codes for components in complete pipeline systems. Currently, our own codes do not say much about components. There is definitely a future need to develop a regime that works for the complete system including components, and not just for the pipeline.”

DNV GL has proposed a new joint industry project to address this and number of other technical issues facing the pipeline industry. Click here to find out more about each of these and to register your interest in participating.

DNV GL’s Pipeline Innovation Forum  also discussed how promising R&D in its early stages or, R&D that was partly or wholly finished then shelved, can generate great ideas for future JIPs. “People can bring R&D back to the table and have it reviewed by other professionals. This introduces a greater element of quality assurance, and we would like to see even more of this,” Wathne said. 

Looking forward, the Forum heard a presentation by DNV GL suggesting a roadmap to achieve better understanding of fracture mechanics by 2020.

Wathne said: “There is still a significant lack of knowledge and competence in fracture mechanics and confusion on when specific aspects are important and not. We currently have a system that based on experience seems to be robust, and which in general produces conservative results, however, it is challenging to e.g. document a quantified safety level or to apply the approach to new design scenarios.”

He added that in discussing principles of innovation, there was a sense at the Forum that “the most important issue is that for innovation to be successful it has to meet a defined need.”

‘Need’ will continue to be a key focus of the next Pipeline Innovation Forum, which is penciled in for 2016 as a discussion event with plenty of networking time built in.

“We were very happy with the number and quality of professionals from the pipelines industry and across our own business attending in March, and would like to build on the success and attendance for our next event,” Wathne said.

He concluded with an appeal to the industry’s thought leaders. “The messages moving forward from the first Forum are to ‘be present’ in the industry, to challenge it, to define its needs thoroughly and to cooperate through JIPs without letting your own expertise be a hindrance to innovation. And of course they are welcome to do all of this at the Pipeline Innovation Forum 2016.”

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