Bouyancy gel may cut subsea deployment cost

Aubin has introduced a low-density liquid gel to provide buoyancy for ultra-deepwater subsea installations.

Offshore staff

ELLON, UK -- Aubin has introduced a low-density liquid gel to provide buoyancy for ultra-deepwater subsea installations.

DeepBuoy, designed to provide buoyancy in water depths of up to 3,000 m (9,842 ft), can be applied to lift, support, and lower heavy subsea structures weighing up to 2,000 metric tons (2,204 tons). The gel is pumped into tear-shaped bags attached to the subsea structure, creating an underwater lifting system. The system also could be used to retrieve lost equipment.

The product has been four years in development and Aubin says it could save cost by reducing the need for cranes and crane barges commanding day rates up to $1 million.

According to Aubin Managing Director Paddy Collins, “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 maneuvering on the seabed to be carried out by ROV rather than crane and is operational at far greater depths than traditional lifting methods.”

Aubin has worked on the development with Strathclyde University in Scotland. The company recently formed a partnership with technology consultancy Ecosse Subsea Systems in Aberdeen to develop engineered solutions for the subsea sector.

Ecosse 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 (550 kg/cu m or 34 lb/cu ft), 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 received funding to develop DeepBuoy from the Scottish government.

10/06/2010

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