A brief history of the company
Deepwater began in September of 1986, headquartered in a spare bedroom of founder Jim Britton's home. Over thirty years, the changes have been astounding. We’ve grown from a couple of garage inventors into global industry leaders in offshore corrosion protection and control. It only follows that a company specializing in extending the lives of productive assets has a storied history of its own, so we’re happy to offer a brief look at how we’ve progressed over the years in working with our clients and our community to solve corrosion challenges.
In its first year of operations, Deepwater offered inspection and corrosion engineering services, installing its first retrofit solution: RetroClamp. The revolutionary clamp created reliable electrical continuity with the protected piece of infrastructure allowing for the installation of passive or active cathodic protection retrofit solutions with minimal time, cost, and complications. This tool would become key in the development of later, more efficient retrofit systems.
As Deepwater and Britton continued to study corrosion problems systemic to the offshore industry, Britton identified the crevice corrosion created by traditional pipe supports as a major source of pipe failures, costly maintenance, and a serious safety hazard. Working in his home and baking the first polyshrink coated Nu-Bolt in a kitchen oven, he experimented for countless hours designing support compositions and configurations that could withstand the rigors of offshore service and combat deadly crevice corrosion.
His efforts culminated in the invention of I-Rod® Pipe Supports to eliminate the crevices causing corrosion, and in 1989, Exxon’s new Alabaster MC397-A became the first structure to specify I-Rod in its initial design. While the diversity of available configurations has evolved, there has never been a reported I-Rod failure in the history of the system. This means I-Rod's maximum life is still unknown. Though independent lab tests have simulated harsh wear patterns of over 25 years without I-Rod even wearing into the primer of the pipe.
In 1990 Deepwater purchased its first building and began to scale up operations. Disappointed with the inaccuracy and delicate nature of the tools available to its corrosion inspectors, the company initiated programs to design and build superior inspection tools for divers and ROVs. In 1993, research culminated in the launch of the Polatrak inspection tools line beginning with the handheld diver’s CP-Gun and ROV-II probes. They quickly fell into favor with divers and ROV operators around the world for their reliability, serviceability, and dual-reference electrode accuracy.
As the new millennium approached, research at the company accelerated and Deepwater celebrated the year 2000 by releasing its own high-tech cathodic protection systems. Along with fitting Texaco’sÒ EL338-A with sacrificial RetroPod anodes via the RetroClamp, engineers installed the first impressed current cathodic protection (ICCP) retrofit in the company’s history. The RetroBuoy represented a milestone in easily-installed ICCP retrofits, arresting corrosion for up to 25 years.
The early 2000s saw the industry embracing digital technology on a larger scale, allowing operators to explore greater depths and more complex projects. Deepwater responded with some deep thinking of its own. In 2001 the Polatrak line expanded to supplement its existing inspection tools with the super-robust Deep C Meter ROV CP inspection probe to ensure that vital corrosion data was never out of reach.
In 2003, Deepwater had to construct a larger location to accommodate rapidly expanding operations and increased manufacturing demands. The company moved its new facility on Train Court in Houston, Texas. The extra space freed the resources for the design and production of two new anode systems: The Retrolink suspended anode string for small structures, and the Raparound anode system for pier pilings. Both proved smashing successes, and to this day, Retrolink is the most commonly used anode retrofit system in the Gulf of Mexico.
The first decade of the 21st century saw new forms of energy production entering the mainstream market. Offshore windfarms became a more common sight and a more common corrosion challenge. With the shallow pylons situated in active tidal areas, silt and sand covered the traditional anode systems rendering them useless and placing the structures at great risk. So in 2004, Deepwater was commissioned by GE WindÒ to develop the VSE (vaulted seawater envelope) ICCP system to keep mixed-metal oxide anodes free of debris and wind turbines spinning for future generations.
Later that year, new depths again presented a challenge: how to power to long-life CP monitoring and protection systems on assets too deep for traditional methods. Deepwater responded with the SunStation. This CP test station gives performance readings when illuminated by the lights of the inspecting ROV. The system lies dormant until interrogated and allows for readings to be taken where external probe placements would be impossible.
By the mid 2000s, Deepwater had built an astonishing array of protection and inspection tools to complement its engineering and inspection services. Since rust knows no nationality, expansion was the logical next move, and in 2007, the company opened an office in Canterbury, United Kingdom. International experience brought unique corrosion trials. Pipelines not only had to be inspected, protected, and monitored, but stabilized as well. Deepwater installed its first Retromat that year. The concrete stabilization mattress, with imbedded anodes and CP test points, further secured delicate seafloor infrastructure.
The next few years saw overwhelming global recognition for Deepwater’s unique protection and life extension solutions. More international offices opened to protect more of the world’s offshore assets. In 2010 the company opened its Surry location to bolster operations in the United Kingdom and in 2013 established a Norway office in Stavanger for efficient access to the North Sea. As 2014 came to a close, Deepwater opened one more branch in Brazil and consolidated its United States headquarters in Houston into one centralized research, development, and manufacturing location adjacent to the city’s verdant Energy Corridor.
Even as oil markets slowed in 2015, the demand for corrosion protection remained high and Deepwater completed its largest CP retrofit to date while continuing to develop innovative and novel protection technologies.
2016 marks Deepwater’s 30th year protecting offshore infrastructure from corrosion. We like to think we’ve been around so long, not solely because of our inventive thinking, but because by staying way ahead in corrosion control, we’ve helped others stay around even longer. We thank our clients and community for sharing in our continued success and we look forward to many more years serving you.