Ultrasonic techniques developed for the nuclear industry could save North Sea oil companies millions of pounds on inspecting offshore pressure vessels.
The move from rigid inspection rules to the safety-case approach in the North Sea has created an opportunity to replace costly internal examinations with a combination of ultrasonic methods and risk analysis – long used to assess the structural integrity of nuclear reactor components.
`There’s potentially huge savings. You’re into millions immediately,’ said Peter Drew, manager of verification services at AEA Technology, the science and engineering business spun off from the UK Atomic Energy Authority.
Drew said AEA had persuaded the safety regulator to accept such a scheme for a 15-metre high hydrogenerator on an offshore platform in the Dutch sector of the North Sea – a move that had saved the operator £500,000 on replacing the catalyst every time the vessel was emptied for inspection.
AEA recently submitted a number of schemes for approval by the Health & Safety Executive.