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Subsea Factory Insight: From Dream to Reality
The challenging work of subsea production is benefiting from game-changing innovation, as some of the biggest Oil & Gas companies collaborate, to transform the concept of a subsea factory into reality.
The benefits of a subsea factory
- Efficiency and less power consumption
Dr Jan Bugge, ABB vice-president of subsea technology and project director of the ABB-Statoil Subsea Power JIP said the project will get, “more out of the ground because if you put the equipment on the seabed, you can produce much more efficiently. Power consumption goes down and you’re also closer to the wells.”
- Work in deeper water and harsh environments
The subsea technology helps facilitate deepwater production in remote locations, opening up opportunities in the Gulf of Mexico, offshore Brazil and even the Arctic, with reduced operational costs. Working at 3,000m it opens up possibilities to work on highly corrosive ocean floors.
Also, by building a sustainable and tested factory under the water, businesses are less susceptible to harsh weather conditions, such as hurricanes, that can exist topside in some Oil & Gas locations.
- Lower environmental impact
A subsea factory will reduce the carbon footprint of production with unmanned sites, which are controlled remotely. There will be no need for ships as oil and gas is transported via a pipeline, which also reduces disruption to marine life, following its initial installation. The energy is cleaner as power can be taken directly from shore rather than with gas turbines offshore. Because the temperature is lower at subsea, the efficiency increases when compared to topside, with components running at their optimal level.
Bugge also added, “The lower the temperature is inside the equipment, the better the equipment can handle it. It’s like your mobile phone; if you leave it in the sun, it’s not really good for it in the long run. So basically, you eat lifetime by temperature. You need to have as low a temperature as possible. You want to put equipment down there that can last for up to 30 years.”
- Other benefits
Working solely subsea increases the safety of operations as most activity is carried out remotely. Some other benefits include simplified decommissioning, a boost in oil production with increased flow rates and improved Oil & Gas recovery rates to name a few.
The technical challenges of a subsea factory
- Building a safe system that works underwater
- Underwater control systems
- Overcoming water/electricity challenges
- Mechanical considerations
- The possibility of leaks and breaks
- Underwater extreme pressures
- Tides and water temperatures
- Water depths
- Component maintenance
- Operating efficiencies
Distributing electricity in water
Equinor tackle subsea compression levels to improve recovery of gas
Saipem’s Sonsub’s Hydrone-R underwater intervention drone
The future of subsea job roles
Specialist subsea recruitment advice
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