Monitoring solutions specialist Rivertrace Engineering believes that its recently launched oil-in-water monitoring system, the Smart PFM 107, could prove beneficial to the offshore oil and gas sector – and particularly to vessels such as drillships and floating production storage and offloading (FPSO) units, which typically handle excessive quantities of very dirty water.
The Smart PFM 107 is based on the principles of photo microscopy, Graham North, sales director, tells Ship & Boat International. He explains: “The system functions like a microscope: bilge water passes through an optical measurement cell, illuminated by light, and is captured by an internal camera at the rate of five frames per second.” The intensity of the light, combined with system-specific optical recognition algorithms, enables the crew to detect – and distinguish between – all oil particles, solids and gas particles sized up to 500µ in the sample stream.
For ease of use, the system will activate an alarm when parameters are breached – for instance, when a certain level of parts per million (ppm) are detected, up to a maximum of 40ppm. “The system doesn’t need to be calibrated around a known oil type, such as HFO or MDO: it is oil type-independent, due to its unique particle detection algorithms,” North adds. Also, various ‘blobs’ in the water can be assigned different colours for prompt recognition by crew, enabling them to change process parameters onboard.
As such, the Smart PFM 107 could provide another important advantage to offshore operators, in reducing the number of potential false alarms. For example, Mike Coomber, Rivertrace Engineering managing director, explains: “It’s common for drillship blow out preventer [BOP] chemicals to interfere with conventional oil content monitors, producing false positives and preventing the discharge of water to sea. If water cannot be discharged due to false positives, it ends up filling tanks that then have to be offloaded to barges, thereby incurring operators additional costs and production downtime. Similarly, rainwater can enter the bilge tank.”
Therefore, it is important that the monitoring system is able to differentiate between these chemicals, rainwater or other particles as being distinct from the oil particles, so that they do not trigger an alarm – which could result in unnecessary system shut-downs, costing the operator thousands of dollars and many wasted hours in unscheduled downtime.
The Smart PFM 107 measures 528mm (h) x 600mm (w) x 280mm (d) and weighs approximately 28kg. In addition to viewing the flow via onboard monitor, users can remotely access the system, enabling engineers to monitor the situation from shore-based offices, providing crew with a ‘second opinion’ if necessary. The system logs all recorded data, including alarm data, and this information can be retrieved from the system and stored on USB sticks or via LAN.
The system is currently being trialled by US-based offshore fluid developer MacDermid Offshore Solutions and IKM in Norway, Coomber reveals.