submerged offshore pipeline inspections

Submerged Offshore Pipeline Inspections Made Easy with an ROV

Infrastructure, Oil and Energy, Tutorials and Tips

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Using Remotely Operated Vehicles to perform submerged offshore pipeline inspections to easily monitor and evaluate the system before disaster strikes.


When you think about oil and gas, you often picture the drilling rigs and filling up at the gas station. We understand there are steps in between to deliver the fossil fuels to their final destinations. However, the maintenance of these steps is less understood, especially when we go underwater.  There are many inspection methods for pipelines with varying levels of risk, cost, and data produced.  The most important point to be made with regards to these inspections is that they must be done; these cannot be put off for another fiscal year, put off for a new contractor, put off because of a change of staff.  The inspections ensure that there are no developing structural issues or worse – leaks.

Preventing Leaks by Performing Regular Offshore Pipeline Inspections

offshore pipeline inspections

Leaks can be massive and catastrophic, garnering a lot of unwanted attention.  Having an issue like Deepwater Horizon or Exxon Valdez has obvious environmental degradation, public backlash and safety compromises that you can’t wash away with money after the fact.  There are also smaller leaks that take place over periods of time that can develop into worse conditions.  Some structures have suspected weak points that can become leaks.  All of these scenarios are avoidable through active efforts to regularly inspect submerged assets.

oil-gas-energy-offshore-pipe-inspectionRegular visual inspections can be done to get a general idea of the condition of these pipelines.  Using a camera outside of a pipe will not tell the whole story, but it will tell you where further evaluation is needed and it will catch those potential catastrophes sooner rather than later.  Regular visual inspections is a relatively easy task on land, sending an engineer or operator, sometimes an aerial drone to scan for defects.  Underwater, it is costly to send divers to perform an inspection and places them at risk.  A quick scan using a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV), commonly known as an underwater drone, is a safe and cost effective method to keep an eye on these pipeline assets.

Ownership vs. Contractor

Structural Asset or pipeline owners typically lean toward using inspection contractors to mitigate risk and avoid the cost of purchasing and maintaining the inspection.  We wrote an article about this trade-off to help make this decision.  The advantages of owning an ROV to perform regular pipeline inspections would be that a contractor would not need to be appointed every time these inspections are conducted, reducing the need to go to bid or tender to perform the inspection.  The bureaucratic steps that act as a barrier to performing regular inspections would be removed. This would mean that even small defects that are not actually in need of immediate repair or are not harming the current health of the pipeline, could be monitored closely and have its repair prioritized accordingly; perhaps even until next fiscal year!

Deep Trekker Offshore Pipeline Inspections with Remotely Operated Vehicle

dtx2-rov-underwater-drone

Deep Trekker ROVs are extremely easy to use and maintain.  Utilizing innovative magnetic coupling at the seals reduces the need for anyone to be trained on how to maintain the ROV itself because there aren’t regular procedures such as oiling or greasing required.  A pipeline owner could easily compile a historical log by recording the visual inspections using a Digital Video Recorder or Deep Trekker’s new internal 4K camera.  This would enable them to see changes over time and evaluate the pipeline using the full picture, not just a single day’s inspection.

Consider making regular inspections part of your structural maintenance program, ask us how today!

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One Comment

  • Jordan Curry says:

    Walking in a house because you have good water to drink and keep you hydrated. No gimmicks or pranks. Just a great pipeline to keep things moving. That’s the process I love, so I ready for inspections to maintain that

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