Detecting leaks in a complex subsea hydraulic system

Imagine the situation: Hydraulic fluid pressure is dropping fast; supply tank levels are also dropping. You are pretty sure there is a big leak in the system, but you have no idea where it is. Pretty soon the operation will be compromised: The pressure will be below the minimum required and you may be forced to shut down the field. It is a scary picture.

Detecting leaks in a complex subsea hydraulic network is one problem where a simple inspection of process data trends does not help much.

To start with, the estimation of the size of the leak depends on mass balance calculations that need to take into account discrete events such as supply tank top ups, system purges and noise in the tank level measurements: If the production platform is an FPSO, the tank levels may start to wobble up and down during a storm, and that doesn’t mean there is a leak.

Then there is the problem of estimating where the leak is located: Clues can be found in the number of pump start-ups on each circuit; but also on sudden rises in flow measurements or in drops of pressure well below the system average.

Calculating pressure averages also poses a problem: Very frequently, subsea measurements are in a failed state: down to a zero value or frozen. In order to calculate a valid average, these measurements need to be excluded from the average equation [ Σ (pressures) / No. of Sensors], which means the denominator also needs to be reduced accordingly.

I recently presented the use case of a particular Eigen Ingenuity configuration to monitor complex subsea system like the one described here. The majority of the calculations required to make the application possible were configured – not coded – on Eigen Ingenuity and the dashboard was also configured using standard features. Only one key calculation had to be done in the back-end historian. Furthermore, Ingenuity was configured to send emails to the users when different abnormal conditions were detected.

This example makes the case for Eigen Ingenuity as a true low-code application, easily configurable by engineers.

The occasion of a significant event was captured on the screenshot of the dashboard for the system: A large leak was promptly detected, and major consequences were averted when the on-duty engineer called the platform to warn them of the situation.

In this video, I explain the role of the subsea hydraulic monitoring system, configured in Eigen Ingenuity in detecting the leak and pointing to its possible location.

written by

Joel Chacon

posted on

March 29, 2021

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