Qualified development

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The deeper down that petroleum extraction takes place, the more the technology evolves. Operators are placing more and more quality responsibilities on their suppliers, who are no longer able to rely on well-known standards and have to find new methods for qualifying their products. Det Norske Veritas (DNV) has met this challenge by developing a procedure for qualifying new technology that includes a methodology for producing a systematic documentation of such an effort.

"The idea for this procedure was conceived through Demo 2000, in order to make the Norwegian supplier industry more competitive at home and abroad. Clear guidelines are needed to carry out development projects, and this procedure is so general that it can be applied in many fields," says Hans Axel Bratfos,in charge of qualification and innovation at DNV.

Bratfos emphasizes that it is not technical requirements and specifications that describe the process. He is one of many persons who have helped to design the procedure. Tore Mellem and Einar Tor Moe of DNV played the key roles in urging this process along. While CorrOcean also contributed, the project was led by DNV.

Systematic qualification

The procedure, described in document DNV-RP-A203, outlines several stages in a work process. "The procedure provides for an optimal qualification process," says Bratfos.

Conventional certification assumes that the technology is familiar, whereas innovations are only partly covered by standards. To bring to light the proper analyses and tests for the product it is therefore important to identify its fault modes. Without them, according to DNV, it is impossible to plan a relevant qualification. By estimating the probability that these will occur and discovering their consequences, the procedure leads to a risk ranking.

"Looking for fault modes requires in-depth technical understanding. You have to work in a team in which all technical fields are represented. In principle, all fault modes are to be investigated, but after the risk ranking, those that are important can be addressed," Bratfos adds.

The process can bring to light potentials for improvement. The next step, then, is to implement any modifications and planned analyses and testing.

Affirms fitness

"Most players will recognize the principles in the procedure, but no one has a systematic method for qualifying their technology in writing. This procedure can bring the qualification of various solutions up to a common level so that customers have a better basis of comparison."

Suppliers can be responsible for implementing the qualification themselves, since it is not tied to a specific service at Det Norsk Veritas. DNV can assist by providing staff to manage the process as well as analyses and testing, as well as assuming a third-party role as manager for a fitness for service declaration. DNV will confirm that the principles of the procedure have been followed, but this assumes that DNV has followed the qualification as an observer.

DNV has a system for continuous maintenance of its industry standards so that they follow developments in the industry. The new procedure is therefore suited to developing technology. "We believe that this will be a governing standard in a number of projects in the future and will evolve into a generally accepted industry standard. That is our aim," Bratfos concludes.