Subsea Expo

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Chemicals Specialist Launches Revolutionary DeepBuoy

04 October 2010

Aubin, a leading independent supplier of specialist chemicals to the oil & gas industry, has launched a ground-breaking new product that could revolutionise the subsea sector of the oil and gas industry.

DeepBuoy, a patented low density liquid gel capable of buoyancy up to 3,000metre water depth, can be used for lifting, supporting and lowering heavy subsea structures up to 2,000 tonnes.

It has been four years in product development and offers a new approach to subsea installation and decommissioning work that will bring massive cost-savings by reducing the need for cranes and crane barges that cost up to $1million per day. The DeepBuoy gel is pumped into tear-shaped bags attached to the infrastructure requiring to be moved creating an underwater lifting system.

Aubin managing director Paddy Collins said: “DeepBuoy provides a way of placing large structures on the seabed in very deep water with a high degree of control that simply is not possible at present. It allows for manoeuvring on the seabed to be carried out by ROV rather than crane and is operational at far greater depths than traditional lifting methods.

“The market for deepwater lifting is worth billions of pounds every year so there is enormous potential for DeepBuoy. It could also be used to recover lost equipment and even vessels or aircraft and we are investigating opportunities in the renewables sector as well.

“We have a great team of research scientists who come up with really clever chemistry and worked with Strathclyde University on testing. All of us at Aubin are extremely excited by DeepBuoy, which works using the Archimedes Principle, one of the oldest scientific discoveries.

To help get the technology into the market Aubin, based in Ellon, has formed a partnership with Aberdeen-based Ecosse Subsea Systems to develop and deliver engineered solutions for the subsea market.

Formed in 1996 Ecosse Subsea Systems provides subsea technology, engineering consultancy and specialist expert personnel for the subsea oil and gas and offshore renewables markets around the world.

Managing Director Mike Wilson said: “This enabling system will give a valuable alternative for many costly subsea procedures, not least because it can be used well beyond normal diving depths and has remarkably low density (550kg/m3) giving near pound for pound lift.

“As well as being non-hazardous and environmentally responsible, it offers a precise and safe way to place, move and recover structures from depth and can even lift and lower heavy structures from the seabed to near the surface. In addition, it extends the capabilities of cranes and construction vessels.’’

Aubin was established in 1987 and has a team of 20 people. It designs researches, develops, manufactures and supplies high-quality chemical technology for a wide range of oil field applications.

Aubin focuses strongly on research and development and has invested nearly £1million in the last four years developing patented products that address common subsea issues. Existing products include pipeline pigging and cleaning applications while commercialisation of additional technologies for subsea applications such as insulation and pipeline commissioning is underway.

The company received SMART funding to develop DeepBuoy from the Scottish Government scheme providing financial assistance to individuals and SMEs to help support commercially viable projects which represent a significant technological advance for the UK sector or industry concerned.