Grant provides boost for VIPERconnect

A new product to help recover oil and gas from water depths too deep for divers has received a boost from the South West Regional Development Authority (RDA).

Developed by Viper Subsea, an engineering design company, the product is used on the seabed to enable high-pressure hydraulic and chemical hoses to be connected and disconnected with the aid of a remotely operated vehicle.

A team of four engineers has been working on the VIPERconnect prototype for the past year and the RDA’s grant of £134,000 means that it can now be taken forward to make it ready for commercial application.

The Grant for Research and Development investment will ensure that the product is successfully taken through the prototype build and rigorous testing programme necessary before it is ready for the marketplace.

Neil Douglas, managing director of Viper Subsea, said: ‘The challenges of putting something on the seabed in such vast water depths can be likened to putting equipment in space – it costs hundreds of thousands of pounds to put it there and can cost even more to recover it if anything goes wrong. Product reliability is, therefore, a key design requirement, which needs to be proven through tests in a simulated subsea environment, so this investment is invaluable.’

Viper Subsea aims to complete the project by the middle of 2010.

The company was established in 2007 and has its head office in Portishead, with a second office in Aberdeen. As well as providing engineering services and products for the oil-and-gas industry, the company is active in the offshore renewable-energy sector.

The Grant for Research and Development, delivered regionally by the South West RDA, is part of a Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) Solutions for Business initiative.

The scheme provides funding to help small and medium-sized businesses research and develop technologically innovative products and processes.