University of Houston Researchers Work on Autonomous Robot for Subsea Pipeline Inspection
12.08.2023 By Tank Terminals - NEWS

December 8, 2023 [JPT]- The technology now in development at UH consists of remotely operated vehicles equipped with multiple sensors, video cameras, and scanning sonars that can swim along a subsea pipeline to inspect flange bolts.

 

With an increasing number of severe accidents in the global oil and gas industry caused by damaged pipelines, University of Houston (UH) researchers are developing an autonomous robot to identify potential pipeline leaks and structural failures during subsea inspections. The technology will make the inspection process safer and more cost effective, while protecting subsea environments from disaster.

Thousands of oil spills occur in US waters each year for a variety of reasons. While most are small, spilled crude oil still can cause damage to sensitive areas such as beaches, mangroves, and wetlands. When larger spills happen, pipelines are often the culprit. From 1964 through 2015, a total of 514 offshore pipeline-related oil spills were recorded, 20 of which incurred spill volumes of more than 1,000 bbl, according to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.

The timely inspection of subsea infrastructure, especially pipelines and offshore wells, is the key to preventing such disasters. Current inspection techniques, however, often require a well-trained human diver and substantial time and money. The challenges are exacerbated if the inspection target is deep under water.

The SmartTouch technology now in development at UH consists of remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) equipped with multiple stress wave-based smart touch sensors, video cameras, and scanning sonars that can swim along a subsea pipeline to inspect flange bolts. Bolted connections have accelerated the rate of pipeline accidents that result in leakage, according to the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE).

The BSEE is funding the project with a $960,493 grant to UH researchers Zheng Chen and Gangbing Song, who are working in collaboration with Oceaneering International and Chevron.

“By automating the inspection process with this state-of-the art robotic technology, we can dramatically reduce the cost and risk of these important subsea inspections, which will lead to safer operations of offshore oil and gas pipelines as less intervention from human divers will be needed,” said Chen, noting that a prototype of the ROV has been tested in his lab and in Galveston Bay. The experiments demonstrated the feasibility of the proposed approach for inspecting the looseness of subsea bolted connections. Preliminary studies were funded by UH’s Subsea Systems Institute.

 

Pro Trial: Access 12,600 Tank Terminal and Production Facilities

12,600 tank storage and production facilities as per the date of this article. Click on the button and register to get instant access to actionable tank storage industry data

FERC to Decide on Venture Global Building Permit Extension by April
02.23.2024 - NEWS
February 23, 2024 [Oil Price]- The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission will try to be quick in d... Read More
Shell's LNG Trading Makes $2.4 Billion in Final 2023 Quarter, Sources Say
02.23.2024 - NEWS
February 23, 2024 [Reuters]- Nearly a third of Shell’s (SHEL.L), opens new tab profit in th... Read More
Europe, Africa Oil Markets Tighten, Lending Support to Futures
02.23.2024 - NEWS
February 23, 2024 [Reuters]- Red Sea shipping delays and OPEC+ supply cuts are tightening physica... Read More
Concluded Joint Development Agreement for Production of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) from Woody Biomass in the US
02.23.2024 - NEWS
February 23, 2024 [Sumitomo Corporation]- Sumitomo Corporation, through Sumitomo Corporation of A... Read More