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EMERSON PROCESS MANAGEMENT recently announced the introduction of the first industry-wide system designed to enable remote retrieval and replacement of sensors mounted on subsea production equipment, utilising a standard subsea remote operated vehicle (ROV). Emerson will go a step further and donate significant intellectual property (IP) for the interface to the industry to enable wide-spread adoption and protect customers from proprietary systems.

As oil and gas companies continue to pursue complicated and costly exploration in deep, remote waters, there is an increased demand for better data and insight into operating conditions, subsea and downhole. As intelligent sensor usage increases and the production environment becomes more complex and remote, the demand for easier ways to maintain these assets becomes paramount to improved reliability and lower operating costs.

"Emerson's acquisition of Roxar one year ago was motivated by our desire to improve customer insight into subsea operations with intelligent sensor technology, just as we have done in other industries," said Steve Sonnenberg, president of Emerson Process Management.

"The staggering complexity of offshore production not only drives the demand for better subsea intelligence, it brings the challenge of keeping operating and maintenance costs down. This new Roxar ROV sensor retrieval system can literally save customers millions of dollars by reducing the cost and time required to maintain subsea assets."

Emerson’s new subsea ROV retrieval system, which will provide underwater maintenance and repair capabilities first of its kind, can perform a retrieval and replacement in just two hours for a fraction of the cost of traditional methods - without sacrificing production.

"As is often the case, the idea for this new system came from the intimate collaboration with our customers," continued Sonnenberg. "By better understanding their challenges and goals, we were able to design and engineer an industry-changing solution that not only solves one customer's problem, but solves a challenge commonly faced by everyone in the deepwater offshore production industry."

The Roxar ROV sensor retrieval system is being evaluated and tested by a consortium that includes Emerson, BP, Chevron, Shell, Total and Statoil. This joint industry project is sponsored by Demo 2000, a Norwegian government research initiative, which has the goal of increasing efficiencies and cost effective technologies on the Norwegian Continental Shelf (NCS). ISO and API standards certification for this new technology is being sought this year.

The Roxar subsea ROV retrieval system consists of four main components: a permanently installed mechanical interface; a sensor / transmitter, which includes a probe carrier; the ROV-based sensor retrieval tool, which replaces the sensors during operation; and the hydraulic and control system.

Benefits to the operators include:

  • Increased production availability and reliability: the Roxar subsea ROV retrieval system extends the lifetime of operating sensors and transmitters through regular maintenance and no production impact, resulting in improved availability and reliability, continuous subsea information, and increased production and reservoir performance

  • Reduced costs and increased subsea asset performance: the Roxar subsea ROV retrieval system takes the cost of maintenance out be eliminating the need for manually retrieving the entire production asset

  • Optimum safety and environmental protection: the whole retrieval process takes place within a controlled, leak-proof environment, leading to increased environmental protection compared to current subsea maintenance methods

A pilot on one of Statoil’s fields is due to take place during 2010 and plans are also underway to secure ISO / API accreditation so that the system becomes a standard industry interface.