ABERDEEN, Scotland, Sept 11 (Reuters) - Thousands of metres beneath the waves and the sea floor, new technology pioneered by small firms is helping to make oil production sustainable at extreme temperature and pressure.
More than a decade of high oil prices combined with restrictions in oil-rich places such as the Middle East has made deeper subsea reservoirs in Brazil, the Gulf of Mexico and the North Sea increasingly attractive for major companies.
That has in turn spawned a range of smaller companies developing new materials and monitoring systems for the task.
At the Offshore Europe oil show in Aberdeen, the northern Scottish city that is an industry hub, more than 1,500 companies from around the world showed off shiny new hardware and televised recreations of subsea machinery in action.
Even high-end steel can struggle to handle the levels of corrosive hydrogen sulphide, extreme pressure and temperatures of 140 degrees Celsius encountered at depth. Materials corrode faster and design life is cut short, making the process both costly and dangerous.
Intervention to repair or replace equipment on deep-sea fields is also difficult and expensive, making software which accurately measures when maintenance is needed extremely valuable as it allows production to continue.
The value of deep sea innovation has not gone unnoticed among the industry's service companies.
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