A PIONEERING system of protecting floating offshore installations from corrosion
without using divers has been successfully deployed for the first time in the UK North
EM&I collaborated with Forth Engineering to design the solution which was used on a
floating production storage and offloading (FPSO) vessel 75 miles offshore.
The innovation means companies operating offshore around the world will be able to
save lives and money by deploying this proven HullGuard® system instead of needing
divers to carry out maintenance, or losing valuable production time while installations
are brought to shore for work to be carried out.
It also means transporting less workers in helicopters, and using less dive support
vessels with a resulting reduction in carbon emissions.
Designed for lifetime protection of the underwater hull from corrosion below the water
line, HullGuard® is an EM&I innovation that involves locating a tubular anode with an
integral dielectric shield, through an ODIN® type port fitted to the ship’s hull.
Once the anode is installed the launch tube is removed leaving only the completion plug
in place with the electrical supply cable ready for connection to a standard transformer
HullGuard® can be installed and maintained at any stage in the asset’s life, either from
new or retrofitted.
Danny Constantinis, EM&I’s executive chairman, said “EM&I has proven that many of the integrity related functions that used to be carried out by divers can be carried out
more safely and at lower cost by robotic systems such as HullGuard®.
I am confident that this solution will be welcomed in a market which seeks safer, lower cost and lower carbon footprint solutions.”
David Mortlock, EM&I’s chief technical officer, said: “With the life expectancy of oil and
gas infrastructure being stretched 20 to 25 years and further it makes sense to be able
to retrofit in this way.
“We have provided proof positive with HullGuard® that it can be done which opens up a
world of possibilities.
“Anywhere around the world where there are floating offshore installations this
technology will save money, make it safer, and ultimately save lives with a solution
which takes away the need to put divers’ lives at risk.
“You also need 12 to 16 people supporting a dive team. That’s a lot of bed space
offshore as well as transport which will be saved by using this technology.”
The HullGuard® concept has been several years in the making, and the last 18 months
of building and testing, leading up to the successful recent deployment in the North Sea.
EM&I, which has UK bases in Aberdeen and Wilmslow, and offices all around the world
including USA, Canada, Brazil, Singapore, South Africa, Australia and China, turned to
Cumbria-based Forth Engineering for its expertise to help deliver the project.
David said: “Forth are a great company to work with and have a proven track record of
developing innovative solutions.
“We came up with the concept drawings and Forth worked with us to finesse the design
and produce the solution.
“We also use Forth’s facilities for our technical development, including their excellent
undercover deep water pond.”
Mark Telford, managing director of Forth which has bases in Maryport, Cleator Moor
and Barrow, said: “EM&I found us because of our nuclear pedigree and our reputation
in such a regulated industry.
“We needed to come up with a solution based on hot tapping, but on a massive scale in
a completely different environment to install or change anodes on a vessel while it is at
“Keeping the containment on one side of the hull and the integrity under that pressure is
a technical challenge.
“We also needed to satisfy what is a heavily-regulated and audited industry that the
solution we delivered would work.
“We did a lot of trials and tests, mock-ups and prototypes to come up with the solution.
“We are delighted that the system we have worked on with EM&I has now been proved
that it does the job it was created to do, in the environment it was designed for.
“We really like working with EM&I because they come to us with a challenge and ask us
to come up with a solution. That’s a breath of fresh air in terms of ways of working.
“It allows us to try different things until we come up with the method that works best, and
through that partnership, and that way of working, a world-first solution is created.
“We now look forward to this technology being applied across industries all over the