A small west Cumbrian engineering company is pioneering technology designed to save the oil and gas industry billions of pounds.
Forth Engineering - a partner of Choose Cumbria - has entered into partnership with EM&I, a leading global organisation providing asset integrity, inspection and specialised repair and maintenance services in the energy sector.
Oil and gas industry representatives from across the world visited the Flimby company this week to see equipment that would allow safety inspections and repairs to take place on board the massive floating production storage and offloading ships (FPSOs) and ships used for drilling, production and processing in the oil and gas industry.
EM&I spokesman Pat Lawless said a major benefit of the new technology is that it allows inspections and maintenance to be done in the water.
This is only possible because it is “Noman” robotic technology and cameras which means humans are not put in often highly dangerous and always time consuming situations.
“These FPSOs have 20 tanks, each one the size of a cathedral which need to be surveyed for damage. It takes four men six weeks to inspect these tanks,” he said.
Being able to work on the water safely means that it cuts down the number of times these huge floating factories have to be dry docked.
“That costs $15m a day to the oil and gas companies so you can see how much they can save by using our technology.”
Forth Engineering’s managing director Mark Telford said the partnership offers a new opportunity for the company, which also has bases in Leconfield Industrial Estate in Cleator Moor.
The company also has an office in China.
“We have been attempting to diversify to decrease our reliance on the nuclear industry for work,” he said. "EM&I come up with what they want and we build it. A lot of it just involves modifying equipment we already produce here or joining different bits of equipment together.”
Some of the equipment has been adapted from subsea cameras and robotic machinery.
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