Wood Group has published the findings of the Sureflex joint industry project (JIP), which aimed to improve industry knowledge and understanding of flexible pipe integrity management. The Flexible Pipe Integrity Management Guidance & Good Practice report shares experiences, lessons learned, failure statistics and inspection and monitoring insight from the use of unbonded flexible pipes in offshore applications.
Established in 2015, the findings of the Sureflex JIP demonstrate that flexible pipe failure rates have been in decline since the mid-1990s as technology and design has matured and application has expanded to more challenging environments. It builds on a series of initiatives, led by Wood Group, dating back to the late 1990s and previously run under the auspices of Oil & Gas UK, which led to the development of integrity management guidelines for flexible pipes in 2010.
Supported by a group of 13 participants, the project comprises major operators, including BP, Shell and Repsol Sinopec, flexible pipe manufacturers and certification and regulatory bodies, including the UK’s Health & Safety Executive.
The JIP gathered and analyzed data relating to flexible pipe operations, inspection, monitoring, degradation and integrity management practices. It provides an update to global damage and failure statistics and developed industry guidelines on flexible pipe integrity management good practice. The initiative also assessed the tools and technologies used for the inspection and monitoring of these critical components.
Ian MacLeod, Asset Integrity Solutions Engineering Manager for Wood Group, said, “The Sureflex JIP is the largest of its kind focused on flexible pipe integrity management, involving input from more than 40 member and non-member organizations, and reflects the industry’s desire to focus on improving the understanding of integrity issues. Flexible pipe systems are still a relatively young technology when compared to the operational experience of rigid pipeline systems and tend to be used in more complex applications. Although the majority of reported incidents are dominated by annulus flooding and sheath damage events, the overall damage and failure statistics presented in the report demonstrate the reliability of flexible pipe.”
The findings acknowledge that failure rates related to late-life assets such as corrosion and fatigue may still be an area of risk. Therefore, the guidelines call for continued vigilance of systems entering late-life phases using robust inspection and monitoring applications to support risk-based decision-making.