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DNV GL and Bluewater test the value of hybrid digital twin technology

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Tanks and Terminals,

DNV GL and Bluewater will undertake a pilot project to use hybrid digital twin technology to predict and analyse fatigue in the hull of a floating production storage and offloading (FPSO) vessel in the North Sea. The project aims to validate and quantify the benefits of creating a virtual replica of an FPSO to optimise the structural safety of the vessel and enhance risk-based inspection (RBI).

Bluewater’s Aoka Mizu FPSO, currently in operation in the Lancaster field, west of Shetland, will be used. To date, the pilot test has shown encouraging results.

DNV will use digital analytics and modelling to monitor the asset’s hull structure during operation. Termed ‘Nerves of Steel’, the underlying concept permits the use of various data sets (external environmental data or local sensor data) combined with digital models of the asset to develop a hybrid replica model of the vessel’s structure. This can be used in real-time to monitor the asset’s condition, identify and monitor high risk locations, and plan targeted and cost-efficient maintenance and inspection activities.

Hybrid twin technology uses a combination of numerical design models and data from actively recorded strain gauge sensors on board the FPSO. These sensors allow for a full understanding of the accumulative loading and current state of the FPSO structure. The technology blends computer-simulated modelling with real-time data, which is then streamed to the operator via DNV GL’s ‘Veracity’ data platform or an existing data transfer solution.

Kohelia Molazemi, Technology and innovation Director at DNV GL Oil and Gas said: “By informing and enhancing the RBI process, operators can reduce operational costs and time, providing significant improvements in safety, thereby extending the lifespan and integrity of assets.

“With fluctuating oil price and the impact of COVID-19 on travel, delivering a mirror image of an asset from the safety of shore needs to be trusted and of value.”

DNV GL’s visual dashboard presents data to Bluewater on stresses in the hull’s structure, alongside information that can be used to identify areas at higher risk of cracks or deformities. The information, which is constantly recorded, can be accessed and analysed to inform decision-making and implement inspection based on risk priority.

The trial will expand on traditional FPSO integrity management strategies, which are founded on software-based assumptions made at the design stage as well as current inspection records to enhance RBI decision-making. The pilot with Bluewater is expected to provide new insight and smarter ways of managing risks and costs related to structural integrity management.

“Hybrid digital twin can potentially save millions by avoiding the costly and possibly catastrophic repercussions of ill-informed integrity management by pre-empting and preventing detrimental damage. For an asset operating in a harsh environment, where the loads play an important part in the possible degradations of the asset, using data from the site as a basis for optimised inspection planning, alarms for extreme events and asset suitability for life extension is crucial,” said Francois-Xavier Sireta, Technical Lead for Naval Architecture and Principal Engineer at DNV GL Oil and Gas.

Peter van Sloten, Bluewater’s Department Head Technology Management, announced that Bluewater is “pleased to team up with DNV GL to develop a tool to monitor the structural integrity of this most versatile FPSO, designed and proven to operate in harsh environments with high uptimes and a maintained, strict regulatory and safety regime. This will enhance the safety and enables an optimised inspection regime.”

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