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Friday, February 14, 2020 

HullGuard, a pioneering system developed by EM&I and Forth Engineering for protecting floating offshore installations from corrosion without using divers, has been successfully deployed for the first time in the UK North Sea.

Trialled onboard an FPSO about 75 miles offshore, 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 rectifier. Designed to offer lifetime protection, HullGuard can be installed and maintained at any stage in the asset’s life, either from new or retrofitted. The innovation is claimed to do away with the need for teams of divers and support crew.

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, CTO EM&I, 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.”

Mark Telford, MD of Forth Engineering, 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 sea. 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."

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