One of the main concerns regarding flexible pipe integrity is its annulus condition, as a flooded annulus can lead to excessive corrosion and reduce fatigue life of the armor layers. The current approach to address this is to periodically perform a vacuum or pressure test to check the annulus integrity and to measure its gas-filled volume, in order to detect an accumulation of condensation water, or the ingress of sea water (Bondevik, 2004). These measurements are sometimes complemented by a continuous measurement of the flow rate of gas escaping the flexible riser's vent ports (MCS International, October 2002). The vacuum or pressure test is a costly operation, performed intermittently, while the conventional vent-gas monitoring does not provide reliable information on gas diffusion rates or water vapor emissions.
To address these issues, TOTAL and Schlumberger have developed the subC-racs* riser annulus condition surveillance system for continuous monitoring of flexible riser integrity, which eliminates the need for vacuum tests.
The gas that permeates the riser pressure sheath is depressurized while measuring its pressure, temperature, and flow rate. As in a well production test, the pressure drawdown and buildup curves are analyzed to give detailed information about fluid content and connectivity. The instrument's resolution and accuracy allow frequent calculations of gas diffusion rate and of the volume of liquid that may have entered the annulus, weekly, daily, or more frequently, depending on gas diffusion rate and riser parameters.
In this paper we describe the measurement principle and hardware, modeling of the gas diffusion in the annulus compared with experimental results, and field test results on various risers in a West Africa field. Emphasis is placed on the measurement results, but the implementation in hardware and real-time software for alarms and remote monitoring is also shown.
Monitoring of flexible pipe integrity is a main concern for all offshore fields. It has become more significant as the number of flexible risers increases, and as they age.
The main issues for flexible risers are the status of outer sheath and the presence of water in the annulus due either to condensation or by damage to the outer sheath (Figure 1).