Interview: N-Sea Looks to Deliver Cheaper IRM Solutions

  • Business & Finance

Subsea World News team met with N-Sea’s chief operating officer during the Subea Expo 2017 exhibition and conference.

The company’s COO, Roddy James, talked about N-Sea’s new solution for pipeline inspections, the company’s new addition to its fleet and what regions it eyes for its expansion plans.

N-Sea is an integrated subsea service provider, focused on the international oil and gas and renewable industry.

N-Sea delivers subsea: from installation to decommissioning, from inspection through to maintenance management, and helps assess the state of subsea assets and provide the necessary service throughout their entire lifecycle.

You are working on a new solution for pipeline inspection operations with University of Strathclyde, can you tell us more about that?

One of the issues associated with data gathering in this industry, is that it can be very manual.

So for example, if you require 2 or 3 engineers to process that data, it becomes time consuming, and relies upon those individuals’ knowledge of project.

By partnering with a university to look at how we can recognize underwater anomalies on pipelines, platforms and so on, we’re looking to speed up the process – essentially automating it. If we can gather data more quickly, then that part of the process will be able to keep up with faster utilization of our equipment. Vessels are obviously big pieces of kit, so the less time we can spend with that vessel the better, which of course translates into savings of time and cost for our clients.

How will this solution transform the inspection industry?

The industry’s been through quite a challenging cycle in the last few years and most of us are – or should be – looking to implement technology which will make operations as efficient as possible. If we can cut down the time spent on a project, without compromising the outcome, we will ultimately deliver more to the client.

At the core of all we do at N-Sea, we operate in a safe, sound and swift manner. One of the key routes to this is to minimize the number of personnel required on a vessel. If we can get to the point where we can ultimately reduce the number of heads on vessels and redeploy them onshore, then we’re not only minimizing risk, health and safety issues, we’re also once again passing on efficiencies to our clients.

N-Sea recently added Siem Barracuda to its fleet, what this addition brings to the company?

Our key focus is subsea IRM and, once again bearing in mind the current climate, N-Sea is always determined to increase operability in this field.

This is a state-of-the-art subsea vessel, which increases our ability to operate within greater parameters of harsh weather. Traditionally we would work in 3-4 meters; the Siem Barracuda allows us to work in up to 6 meters. Additional bed space, a large active heave compensation crane and the option for simultaneous moonpool deployment of ROVs and air nitrox diving, all result in less downtime and a more efficient operation. This is further reinforced by the addition of a permanent air nitrox daughter craft.

As soon as we can increase operability, our clients win and that’s what the Siem Barracuda brings to the company.

You have teamed up with BODAC to provide UXO services across Belgium, Netherlands, Germany and Scandinavia, what can you tell me about your cooperation?

A significant part of what we do is survey work, and a lot of that involves Unexploded Ordnance (UXO) campaigns. Many new wind farms and pipelines encounter issues in this respect, and we have vast experience in the investigation and mapping of potential targets using state of the art survey methods, ROVs and divers.

We’ve teamed up with a number of companies in order to reduce the required interface between different service suppliers and our customers, and BODAC is one of them. We are also working with UK-based companies, as each country has a different methodology and a different way of working to clear the bombs from seabed. By ensuring that our partnerships provide the complete UXO campaign solution – including correct certification for each region – we make sure we’re delivering correctly for each country’s specific requirements.

N-Sea has expanded in the Middle East with the new base in Dubai. What markets will you be aiming at in the Middle East?

In order to meet the growing needs of our subsea clients, it was essential to open a base in the Middle East. The area is a key focus for us and we are delighted to be expanding our survey and IMR operations, whilst growing our presence in a new market. By providing subsea IRM in this region, through a local base, we can better utilize our assets, whether those are vessels, equipment or personnel. We have set up as a local company with the objective of using local content.

Do you plan to further expand your business and in what regions?

We have a joint venture partnership in India, which we set up 2 years ago in order to undertake subsea related projects in the region. We also have a technical partnership based in West Africa, also delivering subsea services. Our current strategy is to establish ourselves and grow in those regions; not just in the subsea oil and gas sector but also with a focus upon the renewable energy industry, which accounted for almost 60 percent of N-Sea’s business during 2015/16.

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