A £1 million investment in developing its largest subsea Chop Saw to date has paid off for Decom Engineering (Decom) following impressive results on its first deployment.

The C1-46 Chop Saw played a pivotal role in a subsea infrastructure decommissioning project on behalf of DeepOcean in Shell’s Brent Field in the Northern North Sea.

This ambitious project involved the removal of pipelines, control umbilicals, and various subsea structures from the seabed in water depths of up to 180 metres, each requiring precise and efficient cutting.

The Decom team was tasked with cutting a wide range of pipe sizes, from 1,042mm OD concrete-coated carbon steel pipes to 220mm OD super duplex pipes. These subsea pipelines needed to be segmented into 9.5 metre sections for efficient recovery to the vessel deck. 

Powered from topside using a Hydraulic Power Unit (HPU), reeler, hot stabs and control panel, the C1-46 exceeded all expectations, proving its worth in the harshest of subsea environments. The smaller C1-24 chop saw, operated from an ROV, was also utilised for certain tasks.

The C1-46 averaged 15 cuts before requiring a blade change, significantly reducing the need for recovery to the surface and impressively completed 79 cuts on its first deployment, showcasing a remarkable 99.05% success rate.

Substantial time savings were achieved compared to using traditional diamond wire saws which typically have longer cut times, carry a risk of wires breaking, and require multiple trips to the surface vessel for blade replacement. 

In contrast, the C1-46 completed an average cut in just 47 minutes, with some cuts as swift as 20 minutes. The C1-24 saw excelled in cutting super duplex and flexible risers – materials that traditional shears can’t handle. 

Furthermore, Decom’s innovative approach to reducing seabed dredging time by modifying the saw’s clamps reduced dredge time from 3.5 hours to just 30 minutes.

Established in the United Kingdom in 2011, Decom is an R&D specialist focusing on the design and fabrication of cutting solutions and innovative decommissioning equipment, with a growing reputation for providing complex deep water project solutions

Decom Engineering managing director, Sean Conway, said: “The C1-46 Chop Saw is a remarkable piece of subsea engineering which was designed, developed, and deployed in under six months, specifically for Shell’s decommissioning campaign in the Brent Field. 

“This project underlined our commitment to engineering innovation and underlined our credentials for pushing the limits of what’s achievable in subsea decommissioning.

“It’s been a valuable learning experience and the performance of the C1-46 Chop Saw sets the benchmark for going on to roll out our technologies which offer multiple benefits to contractors and operators engaged in complex subsea decommissioning projects.”

The C1-46 Chopsaw has been designed to cut tubulars and other materials up to 46” diameter and is able to cut a wide range of materials, including inconel alloys, duplex and concrete.

It can be operated in water depths of up to 2,000 metres, has the ability to cut in any orientation, and is capable of multiple cuts per blade (20-100), resulting in large cost savings and increased efficiency. Blade changes are efficient and safe and the chop saw can be supplied set up in a number of configurations and settings to suit project requirements.