‘Subsea processing essential to enable prolonged production’

Offshore Rig - cclark395 - FlickrThe industry has moved from ‘breaking boundaries’ to ‘cost cutting’ in recent years. (Image source: cclark395/Flickr)A research paper released by DNV GL shows a bright future for subsea processing while outlining the pros and cons of moving towards an ‘all subsea’ solution

The paper explores the viability of moving offshore oil and gas processing subsea, including the technological and economic aspects of an all subsea solution. The report addresses current limitations but also highlights opportunities for subsea technology.

The paper compares a benchmark floating production storage and offloading (FPSO) set-up with a hypothetical all subsea field development solution. Instead of making a direct comparison between the two alternatives, the paper adopts a stepwise approach, moving the various main parts of the processing from topside to the seabed in nine steps until nothing remains on the surface.

Tore Kuhnle, principal researcher and lead author of the paper, said, “Debates about the viability of all subsea solutions can quickly become overwhelmed with complexity due to the interrelations and dependencies between the processing, power, control and safety subsystems, as well as the effects on the reservoir performance and commercial aspects. With our stepwise approach, one can evaluate the business case of subsea solutions progressively and with clarity.”

The report includes a two-fold business case assessment for each step. It first analyses if the step is enabling and opens up new opportunities for the industry that other technological solutions cannot achieve. Then it looks at if the step is enhancing, by offering superior efficiency relative to any other technical solution.

Kuhnle addded, “Even though brownfields will continue to drive subsea processing development, we have also identified possibilities for greenfield applications. We see that the technology has matured considerably for limited-depth and limited-range applications.”

Elisabeth Tørstad, CEO at DNV GL Oil & Gas, noted that the specific research showed that subsea processing is essential to enable prolonged production from mature fields. There are also indications that complete subsea solutions may be a new option for medium sized fields in mature areas, she added.

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