Commentary, 5/6 2008

Published Jun 2, 2008
[an error occurred while processing this directive]

Edit page New page Hide edit links

SOGM 5/6 2008

Go Deep
The search for reservoirs offshore began just 70 years ago, when the Superior Oil company (now part of ExxonMobil) constructed what is considered to be the first offshore oil platform off the US Gulf Coast in Louisiana. Since those early days, offshore platforms have evolved into the megastructures we see today. Along the way, technology began to move to the sea floor, developing into the subsea industry that we know today.

“Farther”, “deeper”, “colder” are terms we often hear when the discussion turns to the latest developments in subsea technology. Moreover, we’ve come to expect subsea innovation as a matter of course – we know that once a concept is realised, it won’t be long before we see it in action.

Remember when Norsk Hydro worked with the planning stages of Ormen Lange? The challenges seemed insurmountable. Deep, with sub-zero temperatures that threatened to cause hydrate plugs in pipelines – the pipelines that would stretch 125 kilometres, climbing the Storegga Slide (Old Norse for “the great edge”), making landfall at Nyhamna. And if that were not enough, after processing, the gas would be piped an additional 1,200 kilometres to the shore of England.

And we watched with awe as engineering innovation met and overcame each challenge.

In the early days of Ormen Lange, there was talk of what would happen a decade after production began. How would pressure be maintained? At what point would a platform be needed? One thought was that perhaps the concept known as “subsea compression” could be a solution. Long before production began at the Ormen Lange field, talk of subsea compression was tempered with caution – it was best not to get our hopes up. But today, long before compression becomes an issue for the field, incredible progress has been made in subsea compression research.

Subsea technology has not only proven that it can be the primary solution for field development, it has also become a profitable method for extending the life of existing infrastructure. Platforms that stand over mature fields have found new life as hubs for satellite fields. Likewise, smaller finds that might not have been pursued in the past can be tied-back to larger, fully developed fields.

Less than desired recovery rates – an early draw-back for subsea systems – are no longer an issue, as further innovation has provided continuous improvement in oil recovery rates from subsea installations. As recovery improves and additional functions – such as subsea separation – are qualified and moved to the seabed, we see the pace of innovation quicken.

As new fields are discovered ever deeper and further from shore (and farther beneath the seabed), the continued innovation will ensure the future of subsea technology. On the Norwegian Continental Shelf, we’ve been fortunate that government and industry have worked together to develop the technology that has been needed by the industry. Programmes such as the Norwegian Centres of Expertise (NCE) have done much to promote development, particularly NCE Subsea activities. This, along with support from operators such as StatoilHydro, has done much to make NCS technology a world-class commodity.

In particular, considering the recent discoveries such as Tupi and Jupiter in the ultra-deep waters off Brazil, lessons learned in the North Sea can be applied to ensure that these giant fields are developed in an efficient and timely manner. Closer to home, the development of the giant Shtokman field will require its own set of solutions. The distance to shore alone is a daunting issue. Add to that the challenges of arctic conditions and ice, and it’s easy to see the need for dependable subsea installations.

But in the end, it’s more than re-applying technology that’s been successfully used before. For technology that’s been proven on the NCS to find its way to other markets, the sustained backing of government- and industry- supported programmes such as Demo- 2000, Petromaks and NCE Subsea is needed to take the continued innovation necessary to apply NCS subsea solutions abroad.

Bookmark and Share

Do you have any comments to this articel, please let us now:

Do you have any comments to this articel, please let us know:

Please be civil.

(Use Markdown for formatting.)

This question helps prevent spam:





Mobile News
Mobile news

Our news on
your website


Do you have any
tips to us


sitemap xml