The evolution from Welaptega to Ashtead Technology

26 May 2021

In 2018, Ashtead Technology acquired Welaptega, a market leader in mooring system inspection and integrity engineering.

Almost three years on, Tyler de Gier, General Manager, shares his thoughts on the journey so far and how being part of Ashtead Technology has helped the business cement its leading position in the underwater inspection services market. Furthermore, as the demand for remote operations increases, Tyler discusses how Ashtead is playing its part to ensure safer, faster, and more sustainable project delivery.

Why was Welaptega such a good strategic fit for Ashtead Technology?

For over three decades Welaptega has performed inspection and dimensional analysis of mooring and production systems for oil and gas installations worldwide. Our technologies and expertise allow operators to manage the integrity of safety-critical assets without compromising production activities.

By bringing together two world-class portfolios, the deal significantly strengthened the group’s subsea inspection capabilities, creating a wider, more competitive offering, whilst reinforcing Ashtead Technology’s position as a leader in the provision of advanced offshore equipment solutions.

Talk about some of the recent project successes since becoming part of the Ashtead Technology team

R&D has always been integral to our success. Now part of Ashtead Technology, we have been able to continue investing in new innovations to further develop our service offering and keep us at the forefront of underwater inspection applications.

Recent innovations include continued improvement of our optical Chain Measurement System (CMS), complete with new automated edge tracking software to improve operational efficiency in high-motion environments, such as in Angola. Further CMS development is underway to reduce chain measurement time by 50% and allow the system to be deployed by Observation Class ROVs.

We have also redeveloped our existing wire mooring rope cleaning and inspection tool for use on a wider range of flexibles, including risers, umbilicals, marine power cables, and TLP tendons, to allow inspection and manage fatigue by reducing weight and drag from excessive marine growth. The Riser/Rope Cleaning and Inspection System (RCIS) has a track record in excess of 10 years as the safest and most efficient method of cleaning subsea flexibles, and now requires no specialist offshore technicians to operate it, thereby helping to keep operational costs low and reducing POB.

How is the company playing its part in support of the energy transition?

A growing number of offshore operators are turning to remote operations solutions to not only reduce offshore POB and resulting risk exposure, but also to help minimise spending, increase efficiencies and reduce carbon footprint.

So far this year, our Asset Integrity team has carried out five remote underwater inspection projects from our remote operations centres in Aberdeenshire, UK, and Canada. We’ve successfully delivered projects in Angola, Australia, and the UK for the likes of Shell, BP, and Woodside, and we have upcoming projects in Malaysia, Canada, and the USA.

Some of these projects have required remote operations due to travel restrictions, while others have opted for remote operations instead of conventional manning.

Remote operations will allow us to continue to bring specialised digital technologies to our global customer base without the cost and difficulties of mobilising personnel to remote locations, ultimately improving the integrity management of safety-critical assets.

What’s next for Ashtead Technology’s Asset Integrity team?

We are internationally recognised for our best-in-class inspection technology and service capability and through our global network of agents, we can bring our offerings to a broader customer base whilst providing a local service delivery.

Innovation will remain integral to our growth strategy as it keeps us at the forefront of what we do. In collaboration with Whitecap Scientific, SubC Imaging, and Nova Scotia Community College SEATAC division, we are also pioneering new digital twinning technology for use by conventional ROV and vessel crew rather than specialists. Guided by real-time 3D reconstruction to give feedback on image quality and coverage, minimally-trained persons will be able to confidently collect high quality image data for post-processed digital twins.

This new solution will allow our customers to cost-effectively digitise their high value, safety critical assets without the need for offshore photogrammetry specialists, facilitating a transition to unmanned operations without jeopardising service quality.

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