EQUIPMENT & ENGINEERING
New tools and technology for the offshore industry
Project work-scope example: installation of a new
process module on an existing offshore platform.
Stage 1. Qualitative assessment: During the front-end engineering design
stage, project process design engineers can use the Energy Institute’s approach to
identify potential high-risk piping systems. This is known as qualitative assessment.
Operators can then consider mitigating potential issues before purchasing any
equipment or materials, e.g. larger pipe diameters (lower flow velocities), specialist
(long lead time) flow control valves or more robust, small-bore connection designs
This approach enables engineers to reduce time spent on re-design and minimize
any associated project delays, ultimately reducing the overall project costs.
Stage 2. Quantitative assessment: Piping engineers can include a vibration
assessment as part of their scope to ensure that the detailed piping design is at low
risk of fatigue damage. This is called quantitative assessment.
This could include: small-bore connection designs and bracing, side branch arrangements, instrument tubing and pipe supports. This assessment will minimize
the long-term risk of vibrations and provide information on the impact of the new
process on the existing process pipework.
Armed with this information, modifications to the existing plant (if required) can
then be planned and implemented in a timely and cost-effective manner prior to start-up of the new module.
Stage 3. Construction: During construction a plant survey should be run to
• The as-built piping reflects the optimized design
• Any as-built anomalies are identified and rectified prior to start-up.
This stage is effectively a quality check targeted at minimizing the risk of a piping
failure during start-up and commissioning.
This assessment process can be carried out and managed using Wood’s Veridian
software package, with standard process and piping input information. The outputs
can then be uploaded into the operator’s existing integrity management system.
In the field of asset integrity management,
it is corrosion that attracts the lion’s share of
resources. Most plants usually have a full-time
engineer whose principal responsibility is
mitigating possible corrosion damage. This is
all because corrosion is almost inevitable, and
In contrast, vibration attracts significantly
less attention. But inadequately managing the
threat can be equally catastrophic and, in fact,
accounts for a high percentage of reported
However, the approach to vibration manage-
ment is changing. This has been driven by:
• Demand from international operators
• Wider dissemination of existing stan-
dards and guidance
• The supply of enabling technologies.
Piping vibration management is not tradition-
ally a problem that is pre-empted. However,
by prioritizing cure over prevention, operators
fail to spot weaknesses in their infrastructure
and implement optimal mitigation strategies. It
is telling that vibration is considered relevant
to only rotating-machinery specialists, when
in fact it affects offshore, subsea, and topsides
piping and associated equipment.
That said, there have been regional differ-
ences in attitudes toward vibration management.
In the UK, the Energy Institute’s 2008 document
outlines the issue of vibration, and how changes
to design could solve problems seen on new
commissions both on and offshore.
There has been a shift to a more global ap-
proach, which has been driven by North Sea
oil majors. Having used the Energy Institute’s
approach in their European operations for
some time, they are now encouraging opera-
tors across the world to consider vibration as
an issue that should be proactively addressed.
Where companies lack a European con-
nection, it is only in the past few years that
interest in vibration issues has grown. Having
experienced their own vibration induced fail-
ures, companies in North America, Australia,
and the Middle East recognize that vibration
can be both painful and expensive.
Nonetheless, the Energy Institute docu-
ment remains the de facto “standard.” Com-
mon piping design codes have historically
not properly addressed vibration issues, and
other standards are limited to specific aspects.
Additionally, the document currently provides
the most in-depth approach to identifying and
mitigating vibration issues from a variety of
flow-induced excitation mechanisms.
The Energy Institute’s position in this field
also accounts for another oil and gas industry
change: vibration management during design.
This is aided by some design codes now
referencing the Energy Institute guidelines for
severe cyclic service designs.
The screening approach takes basic piping information, and the range of process
conditions, and enables operators to identify
potential vibration hotspots. It is designed to
provide the necessary information to address
potential vibration issues before the plant is
Using piping vibration measurements to
identify potential issues is a useful technique.
However, piping vibration is often dependent
Veridian is Wood’s web-based screening tool used to identify and assess vibration risks in process
piping systems, regardless of the scale or size of an asset. (Images courtesy Wood)
Web-based screening tool enables effective piping vibration management