WFS and MCS Kenny Deliver Wireless Deep Water Riser Monitoring System

25 November 2011

WFS Technologies, the world’s leading supplier of radio and acoustic solutions for underwater communication, navigation and power transfer, and MCS Kenny, a world leader in compliant riser design. have announced the delivery of a wireless riser monitoring system for use in deep water environments. Donogh Lang, senior riser software consultant, MCS Kenny said "Optima-Wireless is to be offered jointly by MCS Kenny and Fugro, with wireless capability from WFS and the riser management tools for planning and monitoring operations from MCS Kenny and Fugro; this will enable riser response to be monitored in real-time to predict signs of early failure and to improve future design.”

Interest in monitoring motions and strains on risers has grown exponentially with the migration of exploration and production to deeper waters. Designs have become increasingly more complex to allow operators to drill into these new pockets in reservoirs. During the equipment design phase, a system’s estimated lifetime is based on an assumed load during its operational lifetime. If the actual system loading exceeds design assumptions, then operational life and system safety can be compromised.

Lang says that "Monitoring of data using Optima-Wireless allows a real-time evaluation of load on the system, helping to more accurately predict a "safe working lifetime” for equipment. This can help to improve safety as well as extend equipment life, which in turn means higher levels of hydrocarbon extraction.”

A cluster of sensors is typically located around the base of the riser and the wellhead. These sensors transmit data using subsea RF (Radio Frequency) from WFS Technologies, to a central node, which centralises the data and transmits it via acoustic modem to a second acoustic modem located near the top of the riser. From here, data is transmitted through the splash zone (where acoustic signal would suffer) using RF, to a receiver mounted on a vessel. The delivery of real-time riser sensor data allows the fatigue impact of riser motion to be accurately determined.

Ian Crowther, senior VP and general manager of WFS says "Our seatooth+acoustic technology captures the best of both radio and acoustic, for communication underwater. seatooth® will communicate in shallow water where acoustic technology is limited, and will easily pass through the surface of the water into the air. Acoustics will not penetrate into the air, but will communicate at low bandwidth over a great distance, up to 20kms; whereas seatooth® communicates most effectively at short range.”

Crowther points out "The benefit of wireless transmission of data in deep water is that cabling to the riser sensors is not required, making retrofit as well as installation more simple. Sensors can be fitted in "hard to reach” areas such as on wellheads, where cabling is impractical.” He adds "In addition, negative environmental incidents can be significantly reduced with accurate termination of drilling and well intervention operations. The combination of complementary RF and acoustic technologies can extend the capability of both seatooth® and a conventional acoustic modem, offering a robust solution for subsea challenges in deep water.”

The system was delivered as a project funded by the Technology Strategy Board, the UK’s national innovation agency.