Flangeless subsea plug launcher technology from Balltec Engineered Solutions has played a critical role in Statoil’s ambitious infrastructure upgrade methodology for the Åsgard Millom pipeline.

Balltec established a close working relationship with Statoil whilst working on a new lifting system for the Åsgard subsea gas compression project. It was during this time that Statoil asked Balltec to investigate the possibility of designing and manufacturing a subsea plug launcher to their unique specifications.

The plug launcher was built on technology used in Balltec’s recently developed flangeless subsea PIG launcher, a subsea tool used to deploy a PIG into a pipeline without the need for a bolted flange connection or diver intervention. The existing technology was significantly re-designed to accommodate a larger smart plug of 4.5m in length with a mass of 1500kg. The plug launcher gripping mechanism was built to withstand pressure of up to 120 bar from within the pipeline.

The whole project was delivered to Technip, the installation contractor, within an onerous time frame, which included all FAT procedures and Statoil technical approval. The plug launcher was successfully deployed and used in the Åsgard field in August 2015.

The subsea plug and PIG launcher are part of the pipeline engineering solutions offered by Balltec, which includes the original PipeLOK pipeline deployment & recovery tools. Both solutions are suitable for deployment across a wide variety of pipeline operations.