Subsea Technology

Topics: Offshore

Achieving equipment standardization has been an objective for operators and suppliers for my entire career. There have been a number of industrywide gatherings with the objective of driving standardization, with varied and limited levels of success.  Today, the need for standardization of subsea equipment has never been greater. With the drop in oil prices, cost reduction has become critical. Project sanctioning is more dependent than ever on reducing cost. The need to standardize in order to reduce cost and gain efficiency has been elevated to a vital need. The benefits of equipment and process standardization will reduce cost on many fronts, including manufacturing efficiencies, increased safety, reduced risks, reduced specialized training, and reduced delivery times. All of these have a positive effect on the bottom line. So what is keeping us from achieving greater standardization? Here are a few factors:

  • Each development brings unique requirements and challenges.
  • Equipment-design decisions and features can have a high functional impact on operations. This encourages design optimization to accommodate unique requirements, leading to customized designs.
  • New challenges will drive innovation. Standardization efforts can constrain innovation. It takes extra effort to be innovative and standardized at the same time.
  • Competition can constrain standardization. Strategic collaboration is needed to achieve standardization even in the midst of a competitive environment.

Recognizing these obstacles, we still acknowledge that standardization affects every phase of project execution. Many opportunities remain to achieve benefits from standardization. The market will drive efforts to standardize. To realize the benefits of standardization, it will take enhanced collaboration, ingenuity, compromise, and leadership from both operators and suppliers.

The three papers included in this technology focus are good examples of subsea-field applications where standardization is recognized as an effective method to achieve project objectives. The first paper illustrates the contributions of one operator’s standardization program of subsea hardware in the Parque das Conchas development in Brazil. The authors describe the challenges of identifying similarities between different projects, allowing the operator to focus on the common elements, minimizing the effects of compromise by accepting a global standard. The second paper describes a collaborative effort by academia to focus on new development opportunities in the Arctic environment. The authors recognize the benefits of taking learnings and standards from past developments to meet the challenges of the Arctic. The third paper describes an operator’s experience implementing a number of design enhancements to the installation process. This permitted enhanced efficiencies of the development while maintaining established and field-proven system standards.

The three recommended additional-reading papers each highlight the need to standardize. These papers further the discussion of ways to reap benefits from greater standardization within the subsea-equipment industry. I look forward to seeing the results of industry efforts to achieve standardization on many fronts.

Recommended Additional Reading

OTC 25733 Subsea Solutions in Presalt Development Projects by A.S. Paulo Cezar, Petrobras, et al.

OTC 25872 Managing Obsolescence Risk for Subsea-Production-Control Systems Through the Implementation of a Proactive Obsolescence-Management System by Iqbal Akbar, Inpex, et al.

OTC 25717 Hydrotest Risk Minimization Through Design and Processing for Subsea HP/HT-Well Equipment by Roy Lindley, Argonne National Laboratory, et al.

Tom Kelly, SPE, is a technical manager for the Western Region Systems Engineering group at FMC Technologies in Houston. He has been with FMC for 11 years and has worked 41 years in the subsea-equipment industry, designing subsea trees and subsea systems. Kelly holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Texas A&M University. He has been an active member of SPE since 2003 and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) since 1977. Kelly has served on the Offshore Technology Conference (OTC)/ASME Program Subcommittee, which he chaired before accepting a 1-year term as chairperson for the OTC Program Committee in 2005. He holds four patents relating to subsea-equipment designs and has authored or coauthored several OTC papers relating to subsea technology. Kelly remains active in the industry, with continued service to the OTC/ASME Program Subcommittee, and he serves on the JPT Editorial Committee. Kelly has been a registered professional engineer in Texas since 1982.

Subsea Technology

Tom Kelly, SPE, Technical Manager, FMC Technologies

01 August 2015

Volume: 67 | Issue: 8


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