Three years of depressed oil prices have had a significant effect on the market for producing technologies, such as subsea, which had become dependent on the 2014 price levels to remain profitable. In addition to lower oil prices, increasing production costs because of the more-challenging project conditions of deeper water, longer tieback distances, and harsher reservoir properties have intensified this effect on both operators and equipment suppliers. Today, subsea processing offers the industry a wide range of technology-ready tools that can improve the economics of subsea field development for both brownfield and greenfield applications.
As one of the more-mature and field-proven of the subsea processing technologies, boosting, which was first used in 1994, offers solutions that can accelerate production for earlier payback and increase oil recovery for both brownfield and greenfield projects. Recent technical and commercial innovations have resulted in cost reductions up to 50% in subsea boosting systems, with significantly simplified systems that substantially lower operating risks. The economics of subsea boosting has improved significantly by achieving a return on investment in the range of 250–500%.
As an option to greenfield developments requiring new topside facilities, tieback projects to existing facilities also can become more economically viable with subsea processing.
Along with boosting to reduce the backpressure on the reservoir, subsea separation and seabed injection of produced water can be used to reduce the overall effect on existing flowline and topside facilities.
For brownfield projects, boosting can also be used to extend the life of the field, representing a new field-extension tool even in a depressed oil market.
Boosting solutions exist that can maximize the use of a field’s existing infrastructure, providing increased returns with only limited reinvestment.
Today, there are hundreds of fields that can benefit from subsea boosting, which should become an increasingly more leveraged technology as operator acceptance of it continues to grow with increasing overall industry experience.
SPE 180796 Advances in Subsea Separation and Processing Resulting in Discharge of Produced Water at the Seabed by N. Prescott, Fluor, et al.
OTC 27800 Qualification and Development of the World’s First High-Pressure Subsea Boosting System for the Jack and St. Malo Field Development by Mads Hjelmeland, OneSubsea, et al.
Subsea Hardware and Technology
Eric Ringle, SPE, Technical Manager, TechnipFMC
01 August 2017