Challenges of Extending Life of Topsides Equipment: It's Not Just Corrosion Related

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Many of the Licence Holders and offshore operators are requiring their offshore installations to operate for 20-30 years beyond their original design life, whilst continuing to meet business and regulatory requirements for reliability and safety. The longer term viability of the field and the remaining life of the jacket are the fundamental considerations. The topsides equipment is also a major consideration.

A typical design life for topsides equipment is 20 to 25 years and much of the installed equipment is approaching or has already passed its design life. Operating the equipment beyond design life does not mean that it is no longer fit for service and will automatically require replacement. Experience suggests that, under the right circumstances, much of the topsides equipment can be operated for far longer. However, the operators of these assets face a common challenge namely, "how to maintain production capability against changing operational demands in a cost effective way whilst preserving integrity of the equipment?"

This paper reviews the principal factors affecting the on-going operation of the topsides equipment as it exceeds or approaches the end of its design life. Whilst corrosion is the most significant degradation mechanism the authors experience is that due consideration needs to be given to a much wider range of factors.

These factors include obsolescence, and the potential consequences of changes in process fluid conditions and composition. The age and competence of the workforce needs to be addressed as does the quality of historical records and the possible requirements for maintaining these into the future. Changes in legislation and standards also need to be considered.


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