Subsea separation ranks as the most targeted technology for rapid development and application due to its huge potential for cost savings by moving some of the traditional topsides fluid processing to seabed, according to a recent survey of subsea technologies conducted by officials with FMC Technologies Inc.
Dr. Phaneendra Kondapi, an engineering manager for flow management at FMC and KBR Inc. adjunct professor of subsea engineering at the University of Houston, and Randi Moe, also with FMC, evaluated and updated the status of the top 30 existing and developing flow assurance technologies to assess their maturity level, effectiveness and solution type, including thermal, chemical, hardware, operating and software.
Kondapi reported on the findings of the study, "Today's Top 30 Flow Assurance Technologies: Where Do They Stand?", at the Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) in Houston in early May.
Subsea separation also improves oil production and recovery and boost company earnings. This technology improves flow assurance such as hydrates, wax and slugging with less chemical injection.
"More companies are driving towards utilizing this technology to increase hydrocarbon recovery with development of challenging and deeper subsea fields," Kondapi commented.
Key technology areas still in the experimental or embryonic stage include cold flow, subsea coolers and subsea compression, while subsea separation and real-time flow assurance advisory software are at the growing yet evolving, or emerging stage, of development, according to the evaluation results.
The first pilot-separation system was installed at the Troll field in 1999 for liquid-liquid separation and in 2001 for gas-liquid separation. Subsea separation projects delivered to date include oil-water separation projects, Statoil ASA's Tordis offshore Norway field and Petrobras S.A.'s Marlim field offshore Brazil, and gas-liquid separation projects, including Royal Dutch Shell plc's Perdido in Gulf of Mexico, Shell's BC-10 offshore Brazil and Total S.A.'s Pazflor offshore Angola.
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