Savante's SLV-80 and DLS-550 subsea laser scanners have been used to measure buoyancy block separations and create 3D reconstructions of riser catenaries.

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Subsea Laser Measurement of Riser Buoyancy Module Separation


Buoyancy Module Movement Triggers Laser Inspection

In 2016, Savante was asked to support an analysis of the dynamic condition of a production steel catenary riser (SCR) using data generated by our SLV-50 subsea laser profiler.  Subsea buoyancy modules, used to support and define the shape of a production riser catenary, had previously been detected shifted from their initially secured locations.  Whilst buoyancy modules were initially distributed as separated units along the length of the riser from seabed to a hog-bend and up to an FPSO; general visual inspection revealed groups of up to 3 buoyancy modules had slipped and clumped together at a number of points.  Further module slippage had been suspected through the interpretation of screen-grabs taken from ROV video footage.  Buoyancy separation measurements were estimated using image scaling; dimensions such as riser and buoyancy module diameter were used to estimate the separation between consecutive modules observed in the field of view of an ROV inspection camera.


As a result, the distribution of tension forces along the catenary length were no longer fit for purpose; the riser shape had changed and predicted dynamic response to simulated 100 year wave conditions, FPSO motion and environmental loading presented a potential danger to the asset.  Previously, this triggered an expensive subsea campaign using ROVS to clean both the buoyancy modules and production riser, before repositioning and securing the modules to new design locations.

Overcoming Parallax and Camera Distortion

The client had previously intuitively recognised the effects of camera lens distortion and parallax error on the accuracy of measurements created through image scaling and instigated a methodology for controlling the collection of suitable ROV video footage; pilots were required to position themselves uniformly between consecutive buoyancy modules and "square up" the camera before capturing images.  Datums, such as the visible buoyancy module edge, needed to be located at specific locations within the video footage frame.  This was known to be burdensome and still subject to further measurement errors.

Measurement Errors Eliminated Using Subsea Laser Vernier

Savante's SLV-50 subsea laser vernier was tasked with confirming the separation measurements between consecutive buoyancy modules.  A manipulator bracket was mounted onto the beam of an SLV-50 and mounted in the arm of a seven function manipulator arm on a workclass ROV of opportunity.  A black-box data recording system was mobilised to the vessel, avoiding the requirement for Savante technicians to be present during the two-week offshore phase; minimising the cost of survey but importantly enabling the client to execute the inspection using a platform supply vessel instead of a high cost ROV support ship.

Subsea Laser Blackbox Reduces Measurement Time

During the inspection, ROV pilots were required to simply align the swath of the laser profiler between two consecutive buoyancy modules; measurements were acquired in realtime.  The client provided Savante with 12hr notice of the riser measurement workscope; telephone support was provided to the vessel during the early morning execution.  The client's offshore representative transferred datasets to Savante technicans at 0300hrs, with results presented later that day.