Subsea Expo

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Paradigm Flow Solutions Launches Pipe-Pulse to Revolutionise Removal of Subsea Blockages

04 May 2011

Paradigm Flow Solutions today launched patented technology to tackle the persistent industry challenge of restrictions and blockages in subsea pipelines, taking the treatment to the topside for the very first time.

Paradigm also revealed at the Offshore Technology Conference in Houston that it has just landed a $250,000 contract with a super-major to unblock a pipeline in the North Sea and has secured more than $1 million of orders for its other technologies in the last two months.

The Aberdeen headquartered company says that subsea blockages cost operators tens of millions of dollars each year, which before now could only be properly treated by very expensive methods such as deploying a coiled tubing system from a rig into the pipeline, or undertaking subsea interventions using a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) or saturation divers.

Pipe-Pulse is a remote, non-intrusive method of locating and removing blockages in long distance pipework up to 30 miles. The system is designed to be connected on the topside facilities of the host platform through either the pig launcher or the umbilical termination unit to clear the blockages. The Pipe-Pulse unit delivers high energy and volume pressure pulses into the pipeline or subsea umbilical, which are transmitted at the speed of sound to the blockage several miles away.

Operated by Paradigm Flow Solutions' team of expert engineers, persistent blockages can be completely removed in a matter of days by sending high frequency low amplitude pressure pulses into the flowline, whilst controlling the length and pressure of the pulse. The system operates using a complex series of control valves, which are contained within the main body of the Pipe-Pulse unit, that are automatically operated by the touch screen control panel. Proprietary algorithms determine the optimum wave structure for each pulse, of which there are potentially millions generated for each particular job. The Pipe-Pulse unit then physically creates and injects the manufactured pulse into the pipeline, which is then transmitted to the front face of the blockage. These controlled pulses allow energy to be transferred into the pipeline in a safe manageable way, which is far more effective than applying pressure alone.

During test phases it successfully cleared a 4" multi-phase flowline for Shell UK that had been blocked with sand and wax for 11 years, and also removed a stuck pig in a deepwater 8" flowline for Petrobras Americas. The Pipe-Pulse system is also used to accurately detect the location of blockages and leaks in subsea infrastructure, without the need to deploy expensive vessels.

Rob Bain, managing director of Paradigm Flow Solutions said: "Subsea blockages and restrictions have been a challenging industry problem for many years. Pipe-Pulse effectively revolutionises the treatment of subsea blockages, taking the treatment to the topside for the first time. It is fantastic that we are able to launch it to market with a contract for the North Sea already secured. Given the cost implications of the alternative methods, Pipe-Pulse provides an appealing, fast-acting, cost effective solution."

The company, a subsidiary of the Netherlands-based Paradigm Group, developed the innovative Pipe-Pulse service in direct response to flow assurance and integrity issues being experienced by global operators.

Mr Bain previously worked at Shell and BG Group for over 22 years including deepwater subsea engineering and management roles in the UK and US. The company, which launched in 2010, employs 19 people and is developing a range of technologies for detecting, remediating and preventing subsea and topside blockages.

The US is a prime target for its technologies and the company is opening an office in Houston this year and a recruitment drive will soon get underway.

Paradigm Flow Solutions is exhibiting at OTC on the Scottish Pavilion stand 2363-9.