Global deepwater buoyancy and polymer specialist Balmoral Offshore Engineering has received American Petroleum Institute (API) approval for its buoyancy and clamping system for flexible riser pipe and umbilicals – the first company in the industry to achieve such accreditation.

The API 17L specification stipulates the minimum requirements for the design, material selection, manufacture, documentation, testing, marking and packaging of flexible pipe ancillary equipment.

The buoyancy modules are supplied in two halves and attached to the flexible pipe using the company’s patented clamping system. The modules are spaced along the flexible pipe to achieve certain riser configurations such as ‘lazy’, ‘steep’, ‘pliant’ or ‘W-wave’. They are a critical component of the riser package and are required to perform for the life of the field.

The API accreditation covers all materials, design, testing and manufacturing methodologies used in the system to provide uplift of up to 4.65Te at water depths to 10,000ft.

To achieve the approval Balmoral worked closely with independent body, Bureau Veritas, on an 11 month development programme that consisted of four phases: quality audit; design review; material qualification; inspection and testing.

Fraser Milne, engineering and projects director with Balmoral, was in charge of the process and said: “The challenge in gaining this kind of approval is that we support our clients in deepwater provinces worldwide and each project uses different types of risers, flowlines and umbilicals according to specific operating environments.

“Of course, these require varying levels of buoyancy at differing operating depths within the water column. So, from one project to the next, the operating parameters to be considered have a huge impact on the size and shape of the end product.

“What is consistent, however, is the tried and tested design methodology, qualification, production and test method requirements that Balmoral undertakes using standard document templates to capture information complying with API 17L and tailoring the parameters to meet client and project requirements.”

Some areas where additional work was required to satisfy the accreditation has put Balmoral in a “much stronger position” says Milne.

“We boast an extensive track record in some of the most onerous operating conditions on the planet carrying out work for extremely demanding clients. As the industry continues its journey into deeper waters we differentiate ourselves by providing fully accredited, safe and highly cost effective design and manufacturing solutions.

“We pride ourselves on our robust reliability track record and aim to deliver or exceed client expectations with every clamp and every buoyancy module provided.”

Other Balmoral products currently under final review by Bureau Veritas include bend stiffeners and restrictors. Full accreditation on these is expected by summer 2015.

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