Life extension: making the most of offshore assets
Life extension studies enable experts to assess a unit’s ability to continue operating for extra years, and propose reinforcements if needed.
As an asset reaches its initial design age or decommissioning age, a life extension study (LES) can be conducted to assess its condition and fatigue. This provides a cost-efficient option for safely extending the life of existing assets. LES are flexible and adaptable to the needs of individual clients and assets, but must be considered in advance in terms of inspection planning and timeline.
Life extension studies are a flexible, fit-for-purpose service. Projects are unique to each client and unit, and begin with regular exchanges between a client and technical experts to define the project scope and timeframe. The study primarily consists of an onboard inspection to assess the unit’s current status and a structural analysis to determine its capacity to operate beyond its design life.
LES can be adapted to an array of client needs and objectives (e.g. analysis only, inspection only), and may be requested in several cases, including:
Life extension studies often require significant inspection and extensive calculations, meaning that planning for a study can take several months. For this reason, timelines must be developed in advance based on the asset’s inspection schedule. For units such as FPSOs, where it is crucial to minimize operational disruptions, technical experts can schedule LES as flexibly as possible.
First, LES have become an increasingly appealing option to avoid decommissioning assets, which is an expensive and complicated process. Thousands of offshore units worldwide are reaching the age for decommissioning, particularly in Africa, the North Sea and Southeast Asia (e.g., Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam). Malaysia, for example, has over 350 offshore installations and many of these facilities have undergone life extension in a bid to delay decommissioning.
Second, many newbuilds are being postponed or cancelled, leading offshore unit operators to try and keep their assets in the field as long as possible. Likewise, with 40% of tankers and gas carriers now exceeding 15 years of age, LES can both support ongoing commercial trading and bring new value to units undergoing conversion. LES can help ensure that valuable vessels and offshore assets do not go to scrap, and that they remain reliable, efficient and safe.