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All about SUBSEA insulation or wet thermal insulation


subsea insulation

The petroleum industry produces hydrocarbon, which becomes difficult to develop by the use of an offshore platform, through the subsea production system (SPS). SPS is known to be an economical way to bring hydrocarbons to the surface.


What is the petroleum industry?

The petroleum industry is known to be one of the largest industries in the world, where oil and gas are the primary products produced by the industry. The industry has divided into several sectors, the upstream, i.e. E & P sectors are responsible for the exploration and production of oil and gas.


Oil companies use sophisticated techniques and/or discover the latest technologies to find the oil reserves continuously to expand and grow their oil and gas production. For the search for new oil reservoirs, the E & P sector is shifting to ultra-deepwater for its operation which explores the reservoirs at more depth and with higher pressures and temperatures than before.


Where the Underwater or Subsea Insulation is used?

To resist such a high pressure and temperature the industry has developed the wet thermal insulation system, which in time, increased its demand. The wet insulation insulates equipment from high pressure and/or high temperature and the architectures used in the subsea production system, include;

  • PLET

  • FLET

  • PLEMs

  • Flowlines

  • Risers

  • Umbilical

The purpose of insulation in the subsea

The purpose of using the subsea or underwater insulation system is one or more of the following:

  • Reduce the rate of heat transfer in the pipeline

  • Maintain the temperature

  • Assure the flow of fluid from the reservoir to land

  • Help in preserving the production system’s operational integrity

Who carries out the wet insulation work

Subsea insulation has many parameters and requirements that differentiate them from a normal conventional insulation system. The insulation system requires sophisticated machines and tools and a skilled workforce to carry out the activities like insulation application, inspection, and quality control.


There are subcontractors (or application contractors) who have specialized tools and trained/experienced workforces to carry out the application of the wet thermal insulation system. Oil companies often hire such a contractor for their subsea projects to apply insulation to piping and equipment.


Inspection and testing requirements

The subsea insulation work is carried out at multiple stages and every stage requires inspection and quality control to ensure specification compliance, the oil companies assign a quality controller or quality control inspector to witness the inspection and quality control activities carried out by the application contractor.


The down part here is that there are only a few inspectors who received the subsea insulation training and/or are familiar with the application requirements, inspection parameters, acceptance criteria, and the like.


If the assigned inspector is not skilled enough with the subsea insulation systems there is the possibility that the application contractor does the malpractice and the assigned inspector on behalf of the client accept the work blindly which could lead to an undesirable result or poor quality work.


The catastrophic issues that are associated with an item that was poorly insulated are wax deposition and wax gelation which blocks the pipeline and makes it unusable.


Insulation Inspector Courses Available

A quality control inspector with IOGS Level 3 Insulation Inspector qualification performs inspection and quality control tasks professionally and independently, inspect, monitor, and evaluate insulation work at every stage to ensure compliance with the applicable standard and specification, and collect all valuable data to report systematically to a higher authority.


Due to the current pandemic scenario, and the trends, we are now offering the IOGS level 3 course virtually that allows you to complete it from your work or home. For more details about the Insulation inspector IOGS level 3 course, you can visit www.iogs.org or click the link below.




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