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DNV GL: industry project on subsea processing standardisation

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Oilfield Technology,

A joint industry project (JIP) to standardise subsea processing systems has been kickstarted by DNV GL with industry partners Petrobras, Shell, Statoil and Woodside. Subsea development projects have been under substantial pressure due to cost inflation and the low oil price, prompting a need to simplify the industry’s approach. DNV GL is seeking additional collaborators for the project to drive standardisation, beginning with subsea pumping, to ensure benefits throughout the subsea supply chain.

Subsea processing is a relatively young and undeveloped field of technology, requiring operators to tailor-make solutions to meet field-specific requirements. If that technology could be better understood and harnessed, there is considerable potential for it to deliver increased value at reduced costs.

Experience in the field has already grown significantly in recent years with subsea pumping developments from the JIP members (Petrobras, Shell, Statoil and Woodside) and other major operators.

The JIP ‘Subsea Processing – Standardisation of Subsea Pumping’ seeks to deepen industry knowledge and encourage progress in this area by examining the potential for standardisation in subsea processing, beginning with subsea pumping. Standardisation still allows for flexibility to custom-make facilities at a system level through standard functional descriptions and specifications. However, it also increases predictability in the value chain, thus lowering transaction costs and improving the speed of implementation, while still allowing freedom to innovate and to employ new technology.

"One of the best ways to create value is by performing well in crisis situations. This JIP intends to contribute by taking the Subsea Processing and Boosting to a higher value level. Petrobras experience with VASPS, MARLIM, MOBO, and other subsea processing systems clearly demonstrates that simplicity, delivery time and competitiveness are mandatory for future applications. The standardisation of parts and subsystems is one of the potential keys to achieve that. Common specifications will potentially increase the number of business cases for subsea systems and bring synergies to the surface," says André Lima Cordeiro, Executive Manager of Petrobras Research and Development Center.

“Subsea boosting systems provide the ability to increase recoverable reserves and further increase economic viability of a project by optimising production. For complex systems such as subsea pumping to be successfully and more widely deployed, overall system costs need to be significantly reduced. Alignment of operators and system suppliers through this standardisation initiative can make a significant contribution in achieving this cost reduction goal,” says Graham Henley, Vice President Projects – Upstream Operated and JV, Shell Projects & Technology.

“With today's low oil price, it is more important than ever to create cheaper, leaner and standardised subsea solutions. This challenge goes across the oil industry and collaboration is key. The industry needs to lower costs to enable more subsea developments and increase the use of subsea processing technology,” says Margareth Øvrum, Executive Vice President of Technology, Projects & Drilling at Statoil.

“The oil and gas industry needs to re-assess stand-alone host developments due to higher costs and look more closely at tie-back opportunities. Subsea processing technologies enable long distance tie-back opportunities for remote and marginal fields. Cost reduction through simplification and standardisation is key to ensuring application of these technologies,” says Sean Salter, Vice President of Technology at Woodside.

Additional collaborators sought

DNV GL is currently calling for collaborators within the oil and gas supply industry to input into the JIP, to suggest additional areas which they believe could benefit from standardisation and to input into the creation of this important new industry standard. The JIP will initially focus on subsea pumping in two phases: firstly, to establish a focus for the study by developing a functional description for subsea pumping and specific targets for possible standardisation; and, secondly, to share industry knowledge and create best practice guidance through the creation of a recommended practice for industry-wide use.   

The JIP participants will contribute their own standardisation studies and initiatives previously performed as well as current and future portfolio requirements, ideas on minimal industry specification and methodology for maturing technology gaps. 

“Taking the time to think long term, and consider the best way to drive progress and best practice in subsea processing, will also help us address pressing issues in the current downturn” says Kjell Eriksson, Regional Manager for Norway, DNV GL – Oil & Gas. “Industry collaboration, through JIPs such as these, drives efficiency at a collective level, raising the bar for all operators, sharing knowledge and experience, and creating trust and certainty by establishing new or consolidating existing standards and practices,” he adds.

Adapted from a press release by David Bizley

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