A pioneering system of protecting floating offshore installations from corrosion without using divers has been deployed for the first time in the North Sea.

EM&I worked with Forth Engineering, which has its headquarters in Flimby, near Maryport, to design the solution, called HullGuard, which was used on a floating vessel 75 miles offshore.

It has been created to protect the underwater hull from corrosion and means companies operating offshore around the world will be able to save lives and money instead of needing divers to carry out maintenance, or losing valuable production time while installations are brought to shore for work to be carried out.

It also means transporting fewer workers in helicopters, and using fewer dive support vessels, with a resulting reduction in carbon emissions.

HullGuard can be installed and maintained at any stage in the asset’s life, either from new or retrofitted.

The concept has been several years in the making, and the last 18 months have been spent building and testing it, leading up to the successful recent deployment in the North Sea.

EM&I, which has UK bases in Aberdeen and Wilmslow, and offices all around the world including USA, Canada, Brazil, Singapore, South Africa, Australia and China, turned to Cumbria-based Forth Engineering for its expertise to help deliver the project.

David Mortlock, EM&I’s chief technical officer, said: "Forth are a great company to work with and have a proven track record of developing innovative solutions.

“We came up with the concept drawings and Forth worked with us to finesse the design and produce the solution.

“We also use Forth’s facilities for our technical development, including their excellent undercover deep water pond.”

Mark Telford, managing director of Forth which also has bases in Cleator Moor and Barrow, said: “EM&I found us because of our nuclear pedigree and our reputation in such a regulated industry.

“We are delighted that the system we have worked on with EM&I has now been proved that it does the job it was created to do, in the environment it was designed for. We now look forward to this technology being applied across industries all over the world.”