Evolution of Fabric Maintenance – from Aesthetics to Integrity

Stork was involved in the hook-up and commissioning of many assets in the North Sea, delivering what could be called ‘traditional’ fabric maintenance services, such as painting, blasting and scaffolding, at the time.

Few people, if any, envisaged that these grand structures would still be operating today so fabric maintenance (although the term had not been coined at the time) was as much about aesthetics and making the asset look good, as it was the operation of the plant. We’d often be mobilised to repaint sections of a platform to get it looking nice for a VIP visiting!

Nowadays, integrated fabric maintenance services play an integral role in keeping an asset running safely.

The importance of fabric maintenance and asset integrity came to the fore with the Health and Safety Executive’s Key Programme 3 (KP3) which ran from 2004-2007. The report noted:

“Fabric maintenance is very poor on many platforms, showing inadequate long term planning by the operators for the lifetime of installations…the levels of integrity in relation to inspection and corrosion prevention are low and a significant amount of refurbishment work has been required…”

This marked a step-change for our business as the maintenance of a platform’s fabric, often viewed as non-safety critical, was moved up the list of Operators’ safety priorities. This lead to better planning of fabric maintenance activity and the very beginning of integrating integrity services, such as non-destructive testing, with fabric maintenance repair.

That integration continues today, as Clients’ benefit from ‘intelligent’ fabric maintenance, for which we develop maintenance plans specific to asset life expectancy, led by integrity driven risk-based assessment and combined with traditional fabric maintenance repair.

Along with integrity and safety, innovation and efficiency are key drivers in the continual evolution of fabric maintenance.

In 1978, I was involved with Stork in the hook-up and commissioning of the Brent Delta platform and we used a four-coat paint system. More recently, we used a one-coat system during the decommissioning phase of the same platform as a long term coating solution was not required. This reduced cost and manpower requirements.

Developments in surface preparation and coating are interesting, as the likes of sponge blasting and ice blasting are reviewed for applicability to the oil & gas environment. Multi-disciplining of teams continues to be a priority as we seek to deliver integrated services as efficiently as possible.

We have developed a short video to explain how our integrated fabric maintenance services help Clients’ to keep their assets run safely and for the lowest possible cost. 

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