MARS-Friendly Trees Offer Flexible Subsea Field Development

Aberdeen-based DES Operations are continuing their revolution of subsea processing with the MARS friendly xmas tree. The interface, designed to work with their Multiple Application Reinjection System (MARS), has just been supplied to Venture Petroleum by Vetco for use on the Goosander field. It will allow Venture to adopt a flexible subsea field development strategy throughout the life of field.

MARS enables optimization of oil and gas production whilst minimizing the risks associated with well intervention. BP purchased the first system which will be installed on the King Field in the Gulf of Mexico. The low-risk interface enables optimization to be retrofitted onto any wellhead at any time in field life.

"MARS can be retrofitted onto any tree, but the risk and time can be minimized and the range of applications maximized if DES verifies key dimensional information during the manufacturing phase of the xmas tree - this is what we mean by MARS friendly trees," explains DES managing director, Ian Donald.

"By specifying the MARS friendly xmas tree when purchasing new trees, the operator is able to keep all their strategic options for field development open, while eliminating the pre-investment normally associated with built-in contingency hardware."

This is the first deployment of a MARS friendly xmas tree but the specification has also been adopted by Shell and BP in the North Sea for forthcoming projects. The sale of the first MARS system and projected sales for MARS friendly xmas trees base will result in DES significantly growing its operation in the next eighteen months.

To cope with expansion, DES has appointed a director of business development. Brian Nutley has taken up this newly created board position. With over thirty years experience in the industry, Nutley joins DES from Halliburton where his most recent role was in strategic marketing for innovation and technology.

Commenting on Nutley's appointment Donald says: "For a small business to attract someone of Brian's caliber with large company experience is a real coup. His expertise and experience will be invaluable in extending our footprint in new regions including Europe, West Africa and the Far East."

The company which currently employs 20 people in Aberdeen and Houston was formed in 1999 to develop subsea processing systems with support from 3i and the DTI.

The patented MARS system optimizes production throughout the life of an oilfield, enabling processing equipment modules (pumping, metering, separation and well stimulation) to be installed on any Xmas Tree at any time. The MARS system will allow BP to retrofit multiphase pumps to its deepwater King Field assets in water depths of 1,600 meters.

The pumps can be fitted without breaking into existing subsea flowlines or re-entering the well and therefore significantly lowers the environmental, reservoir and cost risks normally associated with deploying subsea processing equipment.

Donald adds: "Flexible subsea processing has long been the holy grail of the oil and gas industry; with MARS the operators now have a simple, low risk, low cost method of achieving this."