Ultrasonic inspection specialist, Sonomatic, has launched a new subsea pipeline screening inspection tool based on electromagnetic acoustic transducer (EMAT) technology.
The company, which has its main commercial operation in Aberdeen and is headquartered in Warrington, self-funded an investment of over £500,000.00 in the development of EMAT technology for topside and subsea applications.
The subsea EMAT scanner uses horizontally polarised shear waves to assess the condition of large sections of pipeline quickly. EMAT technology is an established method of ultrasonic inspection, but existing systems generally utilise lamb waves, rather than shear waves, which have limitations in the subsea environment. Sonomatic is the market leader in ultrasonic inspection techniques and the first to develop a shear wave EMAT for subsea inspection purposes.
Senior Integrity Engineer and EMAT Project Manager Dr Matthew Fleming said, "We are excited to launch our EMAT capability commercially, as it is a step change in ultrasonic inspection subsea.
"Unlike our other subsea scanner technologies, such as Sonomatic’s ROV-IT, the EMAT screening tool provides rapid coverage over a much larger area of pipeline. This will be of enormous benefit to operators with ageing subsea pipelines, particularly for cases where intelligent pigging is not practical.”
The EMAT screening tool was developed at Sonomatic’s dedicated research and development facilities. It follows an extensive programme of work, beginning in 2011, covering modelling and analysis of the physics of the inspection technique through to design, production and testing of the subsea tool.
Dr Fleming said, "Sonomatic invested a great deal of time and finance in the development of the subsea EMAT tool. Its creation demonstrates the great teamwork between Sonomatic’s specialists in basic research and engineering development, which enabled them to produce a practical tool based on complex physical principles.
"The tool has been designed for ROV deployment, which is safer and more cost-effective for the client than diver deployed inspection. We plan to utilise the EMAT alongside our other ultrasonic technologies in order to deliver a much broader and more accurate picture of asset integrity than has been possible in the industry before. We expect it will also be capable of topside applications, including rope access deployment on risers and conductors above the splashzone.”