Louisiana Patent of the Month – February 2023
Oil extracted from below the seafloor is transported through pipelines. When these pipelines are no longer needed, they need to either be removed or cleaned of oil & gas. Traditionally, smaller pipelines are removed from the seafloor by lifting them onto a barge and then cutting them into sections. However, this method cannot be used for larger pipelines as the strain placed on the sections of pipe between the barge and the seafloor could cause them to break, resulting in safety issues. Regulations require larger pipelines to be removed, creating the need for solutions that can remove them from the seafloor.
C-Dive, LLC, the largest dive company on the Gulf Coast, has designed a reliable seafloor pipeline removal system capable of handling any size pipeline. The newly patented system removes pipelines buried in the seafloor using a pressurized trenching device, a hydraulic subsea pipe shear, and a hydraulic subsea grapple. The trenching device uncovers the buried pipe by excavating a trench around it, and the subsea shear cuts the pipeline into sections. The grapple then lifts the cut pipe sections from the seafloor onto a barge, enabling them to be transported to shore.
The innovation here is the improvement made to the subsea trenching device, allowing it to be used for uncovering buried pipelines. While subsea trenching devices have been used for years in offshore oil and gas environments for pipeline installation, C-Dive is the first company to use the devices for pipeline removal.
This invention is a game-changer for the industry as it allows larger pipelines to be removed safely and efficiently, minimizing the risk of damage or environmental harm. The use of the self-propelled nature of the jet sled, the position of the spray pipes and nozzles, the position of the air lifts, and the use of rollers significantly improve the ability to unearth buried pipes. The system is also designed for a “one pass” operation, reducing the need for additional boats and barges and improving the efficiency of pipeline removal methods.
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