Technip's R&D focus

OIL engineering giant Technip is making advances in the arenas of simulators, diverless connection systems, improved polymer materials and robot-based, maintenance-focused surveillance in a bid for new growth markets.
Technip's R&D focus Technip's R&D focus Technip's R&D focus Technip's R&D focus Technip's R&D focus

JP Morgan was part of a recent analyst trip to Technip's Paris-based Technology and Innovation Centre where they saw installation simulators, umbilicals and flexibles, and a virtual vessel tour.

Research and development was considered critical in the ongoing industry race to cut costs plus to target new subsea markets over the longer term.

"Technip sees future market opportunities with large advantages to technology leadership in these areas: (a) ageing infrastructure and Life of Field flow assurance and recovery rates; (b) ‘ultra' ultra deepwater where longer-term prospects may emerge for development at closer to 4000m (versus about 3200m maximum now); (c) Arctic conditions; and (d) difficult reservoirs," JPM said in a client note.

Looking at some of the R&D work in progress, JPM said Technip's proprietary installation simulator can see details such as the tension that a specific piece of kit puts on individual lift wires "to see which are most stressed, and simulates weather with heave".

"It is available for heavy lift, and Technip is looking at adding this capability for flex-lay [systems], and perhaps S-lay [systems]," the broker said.

Technip has also come up with a new solution for the challenge of subsea riser connections to floating production storage and offloading vessels which is subject to weather conditions due to the need for human divers to carry out this work.

"On Total's Pazflor project Technip helped pioneer ‘riser bending stiffener automatic connections' to haul up the 24 risers and plug them into the FPSO without needing divers. Technip is also looking at unmanned surface vessels."

The engineering house has also looked at savings from materials advances.

"Technip said its new TP35 polymer will reduce cost of flexibles production significantly. On the rigid pipe side, its Logstor insulation is applicable for shallow water down to 200m and is also much cheaper than current alternatives," JPM said.

"Technip is still developing carbon fibre armour for composite pipes, although it believes it is not sufficiently flexible (or heavy enough) to be the dominant component."

On the LOF front, Technip is developing a real time surveillance network called In-service Riser Inspection System which uses "Xray, electromagnetic and acoustic, and crawler robots".

"IRIS can detect breaks in wires and armour in pipes. Technip appropriated the idea from the tyre manufacturing industry," JPM said.

"IRIS is limited in pipe diameter and shallow water currently. Technip is developing similar applications for FPSOs, including also vibrating wire sensors to measure hull stress."

JPM has an overweight (buy) rating on Technip shares.