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2008 pipeline seminar - Final questions and discussion

15.55-16.10 - Final questions and discussion - All

'Open Forum - Question and Answers' session led by seminar Chairman, Douglas Souden (HSE).

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Douglas Souden – HSE (Seminar Chairman). If we open up into, I guess the questions, the discussions part, I'd certainly like to sort of say thanks to everybody who has contributed to and attended today. It's actually been quite overwhelming in terms of the numbers of interest that we've had for today and its quite amazing just when you listen to the presentations today just how much skills and technical expertise there is out there. So I guess what I'd just like to do would be to revisit the objectives - why we had or arranged for the seminar which is on the back of the programme really which is the last part because just to revisit whether we feel we've actually achieved that. The event was about focused on sharing learning and experiences across the industry in relation to unbonded flexible pipelines and those four key areas about integrity management and good practice. Well we've certainly seen lots of examples of that today and about research and development and a number of techniques that seem to be being in the development stages. Failures and incidents - well Gus's last presentation only clearly demonstrates what can go wrong and of course we started up in the related standards and guidance and so from my point of view of someone whose been involved in organising the event, its been very successful and I think it follows on quite well with the event that happened a year ago with our colleagues in the Petroleum Safety Authority in Norway. So really I guess that's all Id like to say at this point but its really just to throw it open to see if anybody's got any comments they want to say. Any observations they want to make or any comments or questions they have for presenters. What we will do is we'll try and capture that - so yeah if again, I know it slows things down a little bit but it just helps us to capture some of the information. So since you've had your hand up first there Dennis, we'll give you an opportunity to start things off.

Dennis Keen – Andrew Palmer and Associates. My perception is, I don't know very much about flexibles. Basically once I left the HSE back in 97 and joined Palmers I didn't have any more involvement with flexibles so today's been a very good and a very excellent catching up exercise for me but my perception is from today that the problem is with the risers and the flowlines are not a problem. We've hardly heard a word about flowline problems or failures or anything like that so I wonder whether someone would like to comment on that and see whether my perception is correct or whether its just simply the way that today has been biased. The second point is - is really to say that from a risk analysis point of view its in doing quantified or semi-quantified risk analysis, the industry or certainly from the consultants point of view we are really struggling because we still haven't seen an update of PARLOC for very many years. At the moment the data says there's been eleven flexible pipeline failures and of those eleven incidents all eleven were actually resulted in full loss of containment so at the moment the data's very very heavily biased against flexible risers. It would be very useful if we were picking up some newer data about flexibles to discover what the near misses are and what the amount of damage we've seen before we actually see a loss of containment. So really that's just a couple of comments but if someone could sort of comment on whether flowlines are not problems, its just simply risers we need to concern ourselves with, thank you.

Douglas Souden – HSE (Seminar Chairman). Certainly from our perspective as you know yourself Dennis the main area for us in terms of integrity management is to concentrate on those areas or prioritise those areas where harm to people may come into play and clearly the risers are the most critical part. But having said that I mean integrity management of flexibles is about the system. What we really look I guess from an HSE perspective is for operators to have robust systems that are risk based that look at the system in its entirety and prioritise actions and inspections and testing, monitoring across the range of techniques that are available but targeted towards appropriate areas and based on risk. In terms of the second questions that you raised with regards to data, I can know where you're coming from on that and its no excuse but certainly we have been working with UK Oil and Gas on PARLOC. I guess the delays this time around stem from the fact that we're trying to change the way it's presented, change the way its managed by putting it to an online system such that we don't have the grief of having to capture data you know as a major exercise every time we have to update. So it's a change in direction, Its moving on with the technological advances that we have and I guess that's causing some delays but equally having said all that it will only survive if we get the support of the operators in maintaining some of the data because there will be an expectation of online support of that. The other part that supports that is really I guess the work that Paddy is starting up now with the JIP to update the UKOOA guidance because it is not only the guidance that he's updating. He's also looking at the failure analyses and that's now going to be worldwide so that should be coming fairly soon as well so I appreciate what you say but it is happening but maybe not as fast as we would like.

David Kaye – BP. I will try and answer your first question about whether risers are more important than flexible flowlines or not. Within BP I'm not sure exactly in terms of kilometres but in terms of number, we have a lot more risers than we do of flowlines. Now I think that there's two kind of good reasons here. The first one is in terms of a flexible flowline that the flexible is a technical solution but is one technical solution or a number of solutions which are available which may be chosen often for commercial reasons rather than technical reasons. The riser however is often a technical solution which is the only technical solution that we have available for us for what is a very technically demanding application so therefore we go to risers so I would put my spin on the question is more that's its not to say that flexible risers are not a good product or that we have problems with them. I would say that flexible risers are a solution to a very very demanding application and as a consequence we spend a lot of time looking after them because they're so important to us. I can only think of one issue that we have at the moment in the North sea with flexible flowline damage which is actually trawl gear impact and obviously could have happened on any flowline.

Douglas Souden – HSE (Seminar Chairman). I'd just add as well, I mean its not that we're (HSE) not seeing any flowline failures. They don't tend to be the catastrophic failures that we can observe on the risers of what we've seen but there are a number of failures and leaks and they do cause us some concern and they do sit as part of what we see as HSE. But we're taking a pragmatic approach on the Reg 13 absolute duty (PSR) and looking at risk in the first instance but I think our perspective of that in the fullness of time is if we start to see a lot of it happening then we'll be certainly speaking to operators in a bit more detail about their integrity management systems. Ok sorry Jan.

Jan Muren - 4 Subsea. Yeah just a short comment on the flowlines. In my presentation I did the last one with hydrogen induced stress cracking. It was based on the real case and it's the flowline. Not a dramatic story you heard about but it was a loss of containment in that and I just briefly scanned through the flexible pipe issues I've been involved in over the last year and I'm guessing about 15-20% is flowline related. The rest is dynamic risers.

Steve Patterson from Shell. Just a comment. Essentially you talked about having robust solutions. Its clear to me that one of the root causes of these problems with the risers is the polyethylene sheath and clearly is not robust enough because we're getting lots of damage to it so I guess the challenge we should really throw out to the design people and the manufacturers is can you come up with a better material solution to actually eliminate this as a weakness in the total system.

Jan Muren – 4 Subsea. Sorry for grabbing the mic all the time but I have a comment to that because I was happy to have a discussion on external sheath with Petrobras just a few months ago and I asked them in detail what sort of external sheath they would use for the upper section on their new deep water development and they clearly said they would use two layers of Rilsan because that in their mind was the most robust material available to the flexible pipe or you should say nylon instead of Rilsan, I think because that's limited to one manufacturer. But the two layers of nylon sheet in a protection which they're also regarding and I think were we also saw here, that was regarded as the most exposed area of the risers.

Chris Saunders – MCS. Thanks. It was just really to follow up on that point and make a comment which is that actually what we've found through some of the vacuum testing that's been carried out is that about 40% of the systems we look at either don't have or don't have a functioning venting system attached to them so I guess in that case the material aspects are sort of a bit mute in as much as its human error and an interface has dropped down and something hasn't been tied in or maintained so I know it's a subject that's come up a lot today. There's a lot of external sheath damage but perhaps one of the things people could take away is its very quick and easy just to go and make sure you've got a vent system and is it tied in and functioning.

Douglas Souden – HSE (Seminar Chairman). That's a point well made Chris and thanks for raising it. I think that's right we've seen a large range of technical innovations about how we can inspect these things but let's not forget the fundamentals and the basics and I'm sure that will help a great deal as well. So on that point I think I would just like to close the seminar and thanks very much to everybody for coming along and I wish you all a safe journey home and thanks very much for being here and being involved.

Updated 2013-02-19