Foreword by Marius Martens, Riser Systems Manager for INTECSEA and SEA Chairman

Last month I attended a talk by NASA Astronaut Dr Scott Parazynski at the CORE Resources Innovation Hub in Perth’s CBD. It turns out that not only is he the only person to have walked on both the Moon and the top of Mount Everest, but he is also a physician, inventor and founder of seven tech startups.

Scott spoke to us about what does and does not result in an innovative environment. In his experience the common factors are: a good team dynamic with people who get along, (however, that’s not to say that they should be alike); diversity in age, background and qualifications such as engineering, commercial, legal and programmers;  he also stressed the need to let everyone speak and to foster an environment where people feel comfortable to ask questions, a culture created from the absence of bullies and never rejecting ideas.

After the talk I started thinking about what we do at INTECSEA that fosters innovation. We cross-pollinate between industries, taking technology from non-Oil & Gas industries and identifying how it might make improvements in our industry. We also have a diverse selection of disciplines under one roof. There is a willingness of management to promote a culture where innovation can occur naturally and our people are only limited by their imagination on how to solve problems.  Across our organisation, I see that it is not just about levels of funding investment, but developing a culture aimed at working to harness the willingness and energy of our people.

INTECSEA has looked outside our industry bubble and is happy to explore strategic collaborations with other organisations and take learnings from other industry sectors. FLEXAS our state-of the-art sub-structuring analysis engine from aerospace for instance is the most obvious. Collaboration internally has also increased between areas of the wider business (our Innovation Incubator and Digital Enterprise division), which has only aided in increasing visibility of INTECSEA activities in the Technology & innovation space, just look at the Low Motion FPSO and FlexIQ last year.

One of the benefits of belonging to Subsea Energy Australia is connecting with other organisations and learning how they are also working to innovate. There is such a wide range of capabilities across our membership. So we asked some of our Board Members to share how their organisations innovate and what they believe led to this.

Simplifying maintenance interventions Arvind Chetty, Business Development Director for SPIE Oil & Gas

MAINTid is an Augmented Reality interface developed by SPIE using the IdBleam solution, a new type of 3D tag developed and patented by UBleam which offers unprecedented scanning performance compared to other technologies and can be printed or attached on any substrate.

The augmented reality interface provides technicians with access to all the necessary data related to the equipment’s maintenance, including updated technical documentation, drawings, safety information, regulatory status of equipment in real time, lists of operations to be performed and mandatory inspections. The interface can also manage requests for maintenance action, orders for replacement parts and requests for assistance.

SPIE is using its expertise in maintenance methods to innovate by linking up with the world of startups and providing solutions for the connected, digital factory of the future, offering greater responsiveness and efficiency. Our company saw a growing need for a simplified maintenance process for their installations. We studied tags that had been developed by the UBleam start-up firm and found their tag technology could fit perfectly into our vision of the man-machine interface.

This sort of innovation is encouraged and fostered throughout SPIE, whilst we don’t have a dedicated research and develop division, through initiatives like our Innovation Club and Innovation Contest, we encourage employees to get creative.

Innovations in Subsea Pipeline Cathodic Protection Surveys David Flanery, Business Development Manager for Deepwater Australasia

For years, we have been disappointed with the available methods of subsea pipeline CP survey. They do not tell the operator the most fundamental and critical information about their pipelines.  One day our pioneering leader had an aha! moment.  We combined our experience of retrofitting clamps on subsea pipelines with the old monitoring technology used for onshore pipelines and came up with the concept of subsea CP test stations.  We invested starter capital to develop and test a prototype, which we introduced to major operators around the world.  Unsurprisingly, the cost savings and design simplicity generated plenty of positive feedback.

Deepwater has always been a pioneer in subsea cathodic protection.  Our founder and CEO started the company in his garage in 1986 when he recognised the need for technology improvement in the subsea maintenance and repair.

Deepwater has since assembled a team of engineers and scientists who work in a creative environment that encourages openness and accepts failure in order to understand our customers’ needs strive for elegant solutions.

Condition Monitoring Pad Brian Evans, Professor of Petroleum/Subsea Engineering at Curtin University

We are part of a large research project which aims to develop a low-cost coiled tube drilling rig. Within the project the concept was whether we could replace coiled tube steel with a composite (glass fibre/carbon fibre) material. As we worked on developing the composite material, we wondered whether we could build in some electronic sensors that could perform real-time logging while drilling.

This led to a PhD student experimenting with composite drill pipe, embedding electronic circuit boards in the drill pipe and computing how much the stress on the pipe changed as a result of the embedded electronics. While developing this idea, it occurred to me that the student could also embed a flat composite pipe with sensors that measured x, y and z accelerations (as in the iPhone detecting 3D movement), stress changes in the pad, and temperature changes on the pad.

If we could build a pad containing such sensors with a built in battery for power, and the battery could be recharged from a remote external EM charger and send signals to an iPad providing an alarm when the sensors exceeded a threshold limit, then we could have an equipment monitoring pad which could inform anyone remotely that equipment conditions were going out of spec through an iPad or iPhone app.

A major operator is looking at this technology at present and we have also built a variation to this CMP which transmits data through infrared light, so that it can also be used underwater for subsea operations.

We wanted to develop something that was simple and useful as an equipment alarm system. The drill pipe electronics led us to understand what electronic circuits do to stresses in materials, and once we had solved the stress issue, it was relatively easy to build something like a simple flat pad which could do the same job (instead of being housed in a drill pipe). It is all about looking for optional applications of new technologies.

Innovation through alliance Ashley Duncan, Business Development Manager – Subsea for Technip Oceania

Forsys Subsea was a joint venture between Technip and FMC Technologies brought about by a fundamental requirement across the industry to reduce the cost of field development in this low oil price environment. The traditional development model was proving too costly in many cases, often FID was not being met and projects were being shelved.

Forsys Subsea introduced a step-change in design: enabling early client/contractor engagement; rationalising/optimising overall field layout; through development and integration of technology; and, by leveraging SURF products with SPS and subsea processing equipment which reduced complexity and time and increased field performance. It enabled us to rethink the way contracts are performed and to provide our customers with a cost and schedule benefit.

The recent merger of Technip and FMC Technologies to become TechnipFMC has allowed for the collaboration and innovation to be taken further.

Starting-up in preservation, storage and maintenance Frode Remvik, General Manager of PSM Subsea

To innovate is to change. PSM Subsea’s approach to asset management innovates current marketplace offerings by bringing together processes already refined in other industries. Simple solutions such as a fully bar-coded, cloud based inventory management system and risk based inspection maintenance regime development to increase transparency and efficiency and ultimately a more sustainable industry. As ex-operators, we have an intimate understanding of our client’s needs. This knowledge enabled us to develop tools and processes unique to PSM Subsea not available in current market place offerings.