Bright future set for subsea processing

DNV GL, the leading technical adviser to the oil and gas industry, has launched a research paper, exploring the viability of moving offshore oil and gas processing subsea, including the techno-economics of an ‘all subsea’ solution. The report addresses current limitations, but also highlights opportunities for subsea technology.

To clarify the topic, the paper compares a benchmark FPSO set-up with a hypothetical all-subsea field development solution. However, instead of making a direct comparison between the two alternatives, the paper adopts a stepwise approach, moving the various main parts of processing from the topside to the seabed in nine steps – until nothing remains on the surface.

For each step, the report includes a business case assessment, considering whether the step is enabling, opening new opportunities for the industry that other technological solutions cannot achieve, and whether the step is enhancing ­such that the aspect of subsea processing in question offers superior efficiency, relative to any other technical solution.

Cutting through complexity

Principal Researcher and Lead Author of the paper, Tore Kuhnle, commented: “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.”

A bright future for subsea within in the current market

“The industry has moved from ‘breaking boundaries’ to ‘cost cutting’ in recent years. In that respect, it is reassuring to see that subsea processing is both enabling and enhancing technology for brownfield applications,” added Kuhnle.

“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. With our short-term focus, we see the completely submerged alternative more as a mature-area, midsize oilfield solution, rather than an extreme deepwater, long-range problem-solver. I’d say these are good findings for the industry to consider as we need efficient production replacement projects in the current market, and both these alternatives fit very nicely.”


Adapted from press release by Cecilia Rehn

Published on 19/06/2015

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