Semco Maritime: Half of North Sea installations exceed design life

Delegates to Scotland’s only dedicated instrumentation exhibition and conference will hear of the pressing need to effectively extend the life of ageing equipment and manage the issue of obsolescence in the offshore energy industry.

Martin Belshaw, technical director, Semco Maritime

Semco Maritime technical director Martin Belshaw will deliver a seminar on the subject at the two-day Instrumentation Scotland & Offshore Systems event, which is being held at AECC on Wednesday, 03 and Thursday, 04 September, 2014.

Ageing Life Extension (ALE) and obsolescence formed the basis of a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) report presented to Oil & Gas UK earlier this year, illustrating the importance of the subject.

Semco Maritime says it is widely acknowledged that around half of the fixed platforms operating in the UK Continental Shelf are approaching or have exceeded their originally anticipated field life. According to Semco Maritime’s Aberdeen business rapid changes in technology and process functionality can create issues for operators with older automation and control systems in terms of both the declining availability of spare parts and a lack of technical support.

These observations were endorsed by the findings of the HSE’s report, which found that while there were problems sourcing spares for older equipment, rapid changes in digital equipment were also creating some stresses.

“With activity in the North Sea expected to continue until at least 2050, there is a clear requirement for those in the industry to take a proactive and systematic approach to ageing life extension and obsolescence,” says Martin Belshaw.

“Over 50 per cent of assets now exceed their design life, so a robust system of asset integrity management is a necessity rather than an option.

“The HSE report, which follows a three-year investigative programme, recommends that the industry develops and encourages a corporate culture which embeds an ALE philosophy into asset integrity management for the long-term future. An important part of this process will be the establishment of comprehensive procedures and systems that allow for continuous monitoring of assets and anticipation of issues so that these can be managed proactively.”

Semco Maritime states that the company is working to support the industry in addressing the issue. The firm’s asset integrity management capabilities incorporate surveys involving the capture of documentation, photographs, drawings and software to establish the current status of assets. This information is then used to produce assessments in relation to vulnerability, criticality and risk, and ongoing reports and recommendations.

Semco Maritime has already handled a number of obsolescence assessments and system migrations on behalf of major operators. Semco Maritime explains that these projects have been carried out with minimal impact on everyday activities, however their value in terms of accident prevention and safeguarding against costly disruptions cannot be overstated.

Press Release, August 28, 2014

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