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RBG, provider of inspect, assess and repair (IAR) services to the global energy industry has completed a major project with Verkade NDT Services GmbH to inspect corrosion under pipe supports at the SAPREF (Shell and BP South African Petroleum Refineries (Pty) Ltd) refinery in Durban, South Africa

For the past year, multi-disciplined rope access technicians from both companies have utilised Verkade NDT Services’ non-intrusive ultrasonic CUS (corrosion under support) inspection technology to accurately assess, monitor or remove corrosion at locations throughout the refinery.


Up to forty pipe support joints, measuring in thicknesses from 3mm to 35mm, were accurately inspected per shift providing SAPREF with significant cost, time and efficiency benefits compared with using alternative inspection technologies, such as laser EMAT inspection systems.


Following on from the project success, the RBG and Verkade NDT Services team will deliver expert training in the advanced inspection technique to local NDT technicians over the next two years to contribute to regional skills development.


Corrosion to the underside of pipelines occurs when the pipe moves due to changing operational temperatures. Frictional forces between the pipe and support cause the removal of paint, which can lead to corrosion if water is present. Alternative solutions can provide equivalent information and readings, however, they often involve lifting the process pipework from the support structure, which can result in costly production shutdown during the lifting, venting and de-pressurising operations.


Les Colman, RBG NDT inspection operations manager, said: “This project was a great success and working with Verkade NDT Services we delivered real benefits to the operation of SAPREF’s refinery. Both companies have significant expertise in NDT and rope access which allowed the contact to be delivered safely, efficiently and effectively by our multi-skilled technicians.”


Hans Verkade, director of Verkade NDT Services, said: “We have spent 12 years developing the ultrasonic CUS technology and this contract again highlights its advantages over alternative inspection solutions. Given the positive results from this project, including training of a local NDT company, we will continue our cooperation with RBG to bring together our NDT knowledge in the UKCS, West Africa and other countries.”