Balmoral Subsea
Test Centre

The industry’s most comprehensive, accessible and commercially available hyperbaric facility opened its doors in 2018 when the new Balmoral Subsea Test Centre was launched. With more than £20m being spent on the centre a wide range of test facilities is available to third parties spanning the subsea, renewables, defence and oceanographic sectors.

Hyperbaric testing

Substantial investment has been made in improving and expanding the Balmoral Subsea Test Centre which is now the most comprehensive commercially available hydrostatic test facility in Europe.

Upgraded vessels, 40 tonne lifting crane, remote monitoring software and procedures are in place offering independent testing for all types of subsea equipment to 7000msw equivalent.

Standard tests include:

Uplift determination
Water ingress
Instrumented buoyancy loss
Hydrostatic compression and creep
Hydrostatic collapse
Bulk modulus
Buckle arrestment performance
Subsea controls testing
Valve testing

The hydrostatic vessels use air driven liquid pumps and can accommodate electric, hydraulic and instrumentation connections. Each vessel can be fitted with chart recorders, pressure and temperature data loggers that provide highly detailed results for analysis, while a computer controlled hydrostatic test system that automatically performs customisable tests using high capacity intensifier pumps via touch screen is available on vessels TC1, 2 and 3. This allows pressure and temperature data to be fed back to a networked server providing remote real-time test monitoring.

A pan and tilt subsea camera can be placed in the vessels to visually monitor tests when required.

Balmoral subsea test centre
Balmoral Subsea Test centre module testing

Pressure test vessels

The Balmoral Subsea Test Centre offers more than 20 test vessels, each with its own characteristics. Most vessels can be fitted with electronic equipment allowing tests to be monitored remotely.

Ranging from 1010mm (3’3”) to 10,400mm (35’6”) in length, with internal diameters of 360mm (14”) to 2500mm (98”) and testing to pressure equivalents of 700bar (10,150psi), most products and components are readily accommodated.

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C
Vessel Orientation Internal length
mm / ft in
Internal dia
mm / ft in
Safe working pressure
psi / bar
Fresh water temp ºC Penetrator qty Penetrator ID
mm
Crane capability
Tonnes
TC1 Vertical 8,970 / 29' 5" 2,500 / 8' 2" 6,880 / 475 Ambient 8 100 40
TC2 Vertical 7,010 / 23' 1,800 / 5' 10" 6,880 / 475 Ambient to 50 2 100 40
TC3 Vertical 7,200 / 23' 7" 1,830 / 6' 5,940 / 410 Ambient 2 80 40
TC4 Vertical 2,500 / 8' 2" 500 / 1' 7" 7,680 / 530 Ambient 2 60 40
TC5 Vertical 2,500 / 8' 2" 500 / 1' 7" 7,680 / 530 Ambient 2 60 40
TC6 Vertical 2,500 / 8' 2" 500 / 1' 7" 7,680 / 530 Ambient 2 60 40
TC7 Vertical 2,500 / 8' 2" 500 / 1' 7" 7,680 / 530 Ambient 2 60 40
TC8 Vertical 2,500 / 8' 2" 500 / 1' 7" 7,680 / 530 Ambient 2 60 40
TC9 Vertical 2,500 / 8' 2" 500 / 1' 7" 7,680 / 530 Ambient 2 60 40
TC10 Vertical 2,500 / 8' 2" 500 / 1' 7" 10,150 / 700 Ambient 2 60 40
TC11 Vertical 2,500 / 8' 2" 500 / 1' 7" 10,150 / 700 Ambient 2 60 40
TC12 Vertical 2,500 / 8' 2" 500 / 1' 7" 10,150 / 700 Ambient 2 60 40
TC13 Vertical 2,500 / 8' 2" 500 / 1' 7" 10,150 / 700 Ambient 2 60 40
TC14 Vertical 2,500 / 8' 2" 500 / 1' 7" 10,150 / 700 Ambient to 50 2 60 40
TC15 Vertical 2,500 / 8' 2" 500 / 1' 7" 10,150 / 700 Ambient to 50 2 60 40
TC16 Horizontal 10,400 / 34' 1" 1,320 / 4' 3" 5,910 / 358 Ambient 2 70 12
TC17 Vertical 5,000 / 16' 5" 1,520 / 4' 11" 1,390 / 96 Ambient 2 60 12
TC18 Vertical 6,000 / 19' 8" 1,570 / 5' 1" 2,240 / 155 Ambient 2 60 12
TC19 Vertical 7,000 / 22' 11" 1,570 / 5' 1" 6,380 / 440 Ambient 2 60 12
TC20 Vertical 2,380 / 7' 9" 482 / 1' 7" 10,150 / 700 Ambient 3 25 12
TC21 Vertical 2,380 / 7' 9" 482 / 1' 7" 10,150 / 700 Ambient 3 25 12
TC22 Vertical 2,380 / 7' 9" 482 / 1' 7" 10,150 / 700 Ambient to 50 3 25 12
TC23 Vertical 1,010 / 3' 3" 360 / 1' 2" 5,940 / 410 Ambient 1 50 12

Submersion test tanks

Test tanks are available for the following procedures:

Product weight in water and air
ROV submersion and functionality
Submersion and gas leakage
Underwater NDT inspection
Flotation
Riser testing
Abandonment and cutting tool trials
Stack up trials
Balmoral Subsea Test Centre submersion test tanks
Tank Length
mm / ft in
Width
mm / ft in
Depth
mm / ft in
Fresh water temp ºC Crane capability
Tonnes
Test tank 1 6,500 / 21' 3" 3,500 / 11' 5" 4,000 / 13' Ambient 40
Test tank 2 6,600 / 21' 6" 2,300 / 7' 5" 2,200 / 7' 2" Ambient 12
Test tank 3 Ø9,000 / 29' 6" Ø9,000 / 29' 6" 4,500 / 14' 9" Ambient -

Mechanical testing

Balmoral’s multi-purpose load rig performs the following test-types and is available for third party use:

Axial and lateral slip loads to 60t
Static loading and 3-point bend to 100t
Bend restrictor/stiffener load to 10t
Bend restrictor locking radius measurement under load
Compression and shear testing on companion cylinders to 200t and tensile testing to 150t
Dropped weight and swing arm impact testing
Lifting point/insert load testing

Development and test laboratories

Balmoral development test labs
Balmoral development test labs

Due to the complexities of bespoke project testing, stringent customer specifications and compliance to global industry standards, Balmoral continually invests in state-of-the-art laboratory test equipment to ensure these requirements are satisfied. This programme of investment ensures the company retains total control over time schedules, test conditions and methodologies used to fulfil customer requirements.

Balmoral’s technical team has taken occupation of the company’s new custom designed and purpose built laboratories at company HQ in Aberdeen. The new facility houses a state-of-the-art temperature and humidity controlled laboratory that is fully furnished with a wealth of chemical, thermal, hydrostatic and mechanical test equipment.

A range of universal testing machines (10 tonnes maximum load) capable of performing fatigue, tensile, compression, flexure and hydrostatic pressure testing using a complementary pressure vessel at temperatures of -70ºC-+350ºC
Dynamic fatigue test equipment for testing polyurethane materials fully submerged at elevated temperature
Differential scanning calorimeters for determining specific heat capacity, glass transition temperatures and oxidation induction time of polymer products
Lasercomp Fox 50 thermal analyser for the determination of thermal conductivity
Gas pyknometers for determining the true density of materials such as powders and gels
Temperature controlled water ageing baths
Hydrothermal ageing cells for long term analysis of materials up to 260ºC
Laboratory scale pressure vessels capable of operating at sub-ambient temperature to 200ºC and up to 10,150psi, 700bar
Temperature and humidity environmental cabinets
UV weathering cabinet
Karl Fischer titrator for determination of water content
Automated titrators for quantitative analysis
Lab scale CNC machine for test piece preparation

As well as providing professional in-house services, the development laboratory is available for third party development and testing programmes.

Balmoral Subsea Test Centre FAQs

Can you provide an overview of the test centre?

The Balmoral Subsea Test Centre is a fully comprehensive facility that carries out long and short term hyperbaric testing to pressures of 700bar as well as offering mechanical and submersion tests on all types of equipment from the smallest oilfield valve to the largest buoyancy modules. The facility includes overhead craneage of up to 40 tonnes.

What differentiates the Balmoral Subsea Test Centre?

Our pressure test vessels and digital analysis equipment allow customers and engineers to trial their products to extreme depths in a tightly controlled environment while monitoring procedures remotely via an online link.

Subsea products can be tested for a relatively short period of time and the asset owner can be confident that the results extrapolated will demonstrate how the asset will perform over a set period of time which could be up to 25 years – or longer.

What type of equipment is tested?

We test all sorts of offshore oil and gas equipment. From buoyancy modules to valves, engineering, mechanical and electrical assemblies, even portholes and pigging devices.

The centre is heavily used by companies working in the deep and ultra-deepwater sectors as well as those involved in exploration work.

Is the BSTC purely for internal use or can it be used by external organisations?

The centre is used predominantly for in-house product testing and R&D purposes. However, with 23 pressure test chambers available, supported by the mechanical and submersion test equipment, the facility is used by the offshore, petroleum, pipeline, drilling, decommissioning and oceanographic industries as well as military defence and academia.

What is the centre's key purpose?

To provide fully comprehensive subsea equipment testing that is accessible and available to a wide range of sectors. Mainly carrying out hyperbaric/hydrostatic testing to determine uplift, water ingress, buoyancy loss, compression, creep and collapse.

All BSTC staff are highly experienced and offer professional services, from enquiry to completion and follow up.

What is the geographic reach of the test centre?

Balmoral has been involved in the oil and gas industry since the 1980s and has always had an in-house research and test capability. However, the new centre has significantly expanded this offering meaning there is no requirement to send larger subsea equipment overseas, as has previously been the case. We test equipment from all over the UK, Scandinavia and mainland Europe.

What are the long-term prospects for the centre?

With greater emphasis being placed upon the move from fossil fuels to renewable energy – especially offshore wind, marine and tidal power – the test centre is more than capable of servicing these sectors so, in effect, it is future-proofed.

The centre is designed to meet the needs of the subsea community from hydrocarbon exploration to production, harvesting to decommissioning. As the UK energy mix evolves the Balmoral Subsea Test Centre will fulfil this requirement for many years to come.

Test centre enquiry

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