The Sureflex joint industry project (JIP) has focussed, and delivered, on improving industry knowledge and understanding relating to flexible pipe integrity management. The JIP has compiled global damage and failure statistics for flexible pipes across the industry and, in parallel, gathered comprehensive population statistics. The JIP also presents an extensive review and assessment of flexible pipe inspection and monitoring technologies. Furthermore, the work has reported integrity management good practice and guidance, summarised areas of current technology development focus, and shared operator case studies relating to flexible pipe integrity management.

The JIP has been widely supported by collaborative engagement with industry operators, manufacturers, inspection / monitoring vendors, engineering contractors, certification bodies, and regulatory authorities of unbonded flexible pipe systems. This paper shares the key findings of the JIP with the wider industry. The JIP report includes more detailed statistics, analysis, and guidance, now publically available following the publication by Oil & Gas UK in 2017, Ref. [1].

Flexible pipe technology and experience is still relatively young when compared to the operational experience of rigid (metallic) pipeline systems. Nevertheless, overall damage and failure statistics demonstrate that, even though new failure modes are being observed as the technology matures, the failure probability rates for flexible pipe have been in decline since the mid-1990s. In addition, review of independent studies indicates that flexible pipe loss of containment rates in fact compare favourably with rigid pipe, when considering incident rates per installed pipe.

However, it is considered likely that the damage and failure rates relating to late-life failure mechanisms, such as corrosion, fatigue and ancillary equipment ageing, may not yet have reached a stable equilibrium. There is now some limited experience of fatigue failure in dynamic riser systems, where previous studies did not identify any in-service experience relating to this mechanism, and a similarly marked increase in corrosion related incidents in recent years. To this extent, it is apparent that continued operator vigilance needs to be maintained for systems entering late life and that developments in inspection and monitoring technologies can increasingly be utilised to support risk-based decision making.

You can access this article if you purchase or spend a download.