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  • Prafull Sharma

Technological Trends from the Asset Integrity and Process Safety Conference and Exhibition

Recently, we presented and exhibited at the Asset Integrity and Process Safety Conference and Exhibition in Jubail, Saudi Arabia, 2nd - 4th May 2023. The event brought together industry experts, professionals, and innovators to discuss the latest technological advancements in ensuring the integrity of critical infrastructure. This includes major energy players Aramco and Sabic.

In this blog post, we will share the key insights and trends observed during the event, focusing on advanced technologies that are continuing to make inroads in the asset integrity industry and in the region.

Advancements in NDT Technologies:

Non-destructive testing (NDT) technologies continue to evolve, offering improved accuracy, reliability, and efficiency. The event highlighted advancements such as advanced ultrasonic testing techniques, electromagnetic inspection methods, and digital radiography. These NDT innovations enable better detection and characterisation of corrosion. The difficulty of digital radiography for large-scale applications and logistics issues due to site safety is an issues that the industry is battling with. Pulsed Eddy Current (PEC) and Thermography are continuing to have application-specific success for external corrosion such as CUI.

Risk-Based Inspections - Strengths and Limitations:

Risk-based inspections (RBI) have gained considerable attention as a proactive approach to asset integrity management. The event explored the strengths and limitations of RBI methodologies. While RBI optimises inspection resources by prioritising high-risk areas, it is essential to strike a balance between cost, safety, and reliability. There are several limitations discussed of RBI methods namely in cold service assets with intermittent service. One of the delegates articulated the pain point of liquid ammonia batch transfer that happens at minus 31 degrees Celsius, so does not consider CUI as a damage mechanism in RBI due to low temperature. But in practice, it suffered heavily with CUI due to batch mode intermittent service. The discussions highlighted the need for condition data-driven inspection decisions in addition to accurate risk assessment models, comprehensive data analysis, and continuous improvement to enhance the effectiveness of RBI strategies.

Corrosion Under Insulation (CUI) in Cryogenic Applications:

CUI remains a significant challenge in the oil and gas industry, particularly in cryogenic applications that are in intermittent operations or sweating service. Such assets include Dehydrators, De-Ethanisers, LPG export lines and Ammonia transport lines. The event shed light on the latest developments in tackling CUI, with a specific focus on risk to cold-duty insulation assets. Innovations in materials and coatings, such as cryogenic-resistant paints and advanced insulation systems, are emerging as effective solutions. By preventing moisture ingress with good vapour seals and offering superior thermal performance, these advancements mitigate the risk of CUI and improve asset integrity.

Remote Monitoring for CUI:

Remote monitoring technologies emerged as a key trend for CUI prevention. Wireless sensors, Internet of Things (IoT) devices, and advanced data analytics enable real-time monitoring of insulation integrity, corrosion rates, and environmental conditions. By providing early warnings and enabling proactive maintenance, remote monitoring minimises the likelihood of CUI-related failures, reduces downtime, and enhances overall asset integrity.

Advancements in Coatings for CUI:

Coatings play a crucial role in preventing CUI and preserving asset integrity. The event showcased innovative coating solutions specifically designed to combat CUI challenges. These advancements include nanotechnology-based coatings, epoxy-based systems, and self-healing coatings. By providing enhanced barrier protection, improved adhesion, and resistance to extreme temperatures, these coatings help mitigate CUI risks and extend asset lifespans. Thermally Sprayed Aluminum (TSA) coatings are rated very highly for CUI mitigation but for brownfield applications, their efficacy is limited due to dependency on field complexities and quality issues.

Predictive Maintenance Enabled by Industrial IoT:

The integration of Industrial IoT with asset integrity management was another focal point of the event. Through the collection and analysis of real-time data from sensors, equipment, and systems, predictive maintenance techniques can be applied. By identifying potential issues before they escalate, organisations can optimise maintenance schedules, reduce costs, and maximise uptime. The event showcased examples of predictive maintenance solutions and their successful implementation in the oil and gas industry.

Drones for Inspection:

One of the prominent technological trends witnessed at the event was the increased use of drones for inspection purposes. Drones offer several advantages, such as cost-effectiveness, improved safety, and efficient data collection. They can access hard-to-reach areas, provide high-resolution imagery, and even conduct thermal inspections. The integration of artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms with drone technology further enhances their capabilities, enabling automated defect detection and predictive maintenance.

The Asset Integrity and Process Safety event in Jubail, Saudi Arabia, provided valuable insights into the technological trends shaping the industry. From the event, several key trends emerged.

Drones for inspection showcased their cost-effectiveness and ability to access difficult areas, while advancements in coatings and materials addressed the persistent challenge of corrosion under insulation (CUI) in cryogenic applications. Risk-based inspections were discussed, emphasising the need for accurate assessment models and continuous improvement. Remote monitoring and predictive maintenance enabled by Industrial IoT offered proactive solutions to prevent CUI and optimise asset integrity. Advancements in non-destructive testing technologies and cryogel insulation rounded out the event, highlighting the industry's ongoing commitment to enhancing asset integrity and efficiency through innovative technological solutions.

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