Technology Focus: Subsea Technology (August 2011)
- Brian Skeels (FMC Technologies)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- August 2011
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 64 - 64
- 2011. Copyright is retained by the author. This document is distributed by SPE with the permission of the author. Contact the author for permission to use material from this document.
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The subsea industry is near the end of its “30-something” era and entering middle age. During its adult youth, “subsea” has enjoyed widespread growth consisting of laying down subsea wells and pipelines, and turning on the spigot in record numbers. The environment still shows promise, but at a more thoughtful and deliberate pace; everything is showing signs of age or obsolescence. Initially, subsea tapped the unreachable fringes of reservoirs, not reachable from the platform—the era of the satellite well. When these wells declined, the economics had been met, and a simple well abandonment was all that was left; not much of a thought process other than go out and challenge a new frontier. When the next prospect came along, we went out, drilled new wells, and installed new hardware. Then came deepwater “elephant” fields; their widely dispersed well spacing was the perfect economic fit for the burgeoning subsea industry. But these fields were here to stay for a while longer. Quick “in-and-out” has given way to needed skills in project management to handle larger, more-complex projects (much more than delivering just a “few trees” and some flowlines). This also nurtured advances in computer-aided-design tools and reliability engineering to refine best practices and increase robustness. And flow assurance soon became the mantra of the day as cooler environs prevailed.
Now that the brash upstart is facing the same mortality as other established development techniques that it shoved aside, subsea must deal with conditions that are slowing down or are farther to reach than they once were. (Helicopter rides are getting almost as long as trans-Atlantic flights!) This is ushering in a whole new generation of subsea technology, reflected by this year’s crop of technical papers. And the oil industry is reluctantly, but inexorably, accepting these technologies as the new “mainstream,” out of economic necessity. The technical papers listed in this review are only a cross section of current endeavors addressing the increasingly difficult physics of getting more from less, making it last longer, and more-frequent coaxing through intervention. All representing the challenge that subsea must conquer to enjoy a productive middle age.
Subsea Technology additional reading available at OnePetro: www.onepetro.org
OTC 20687 • “DeepStar Jules Verne Subsea-Processing Road Map” by Tim Lowry, Technip USA, et al.
OTC 21400 • “An Evaluation of the Fatigue Performance of Subsea-Wellhead Systems and Recommendations for Fatigue Enhancements” by John T. Evans, Cameron International, et al.
SPE 130633 • “Advances in Subsea-Well Intervention-BOP Qualifications” by S.J. Deshotels, National Oilwell Varco, et al.
OTC 21283 • “Rapid-Gas-Decompression Issues in Subsea Boosting Systems” by Norman W. Ritchie, SPE, KPI, et al.
OTC 21324 • “Introduction to Remotely Operated Vehicle Assisted Subsea Sampling” by Christopher Mancini, Oceaneering International, et al.
OTC 21786 • “Control-System Upgrades for Tordis and Vigdis Field—A Project Case Study of Revitalising Brownfield Developments With Next-Generation Subsea Controls” by Karl Herman Frantzen, Statoil, et al.
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