Subsea Company over the Moon with Sales of MARS

Aberdeen-based DES Operations has entered into an agreement with oil giant Shell for the sale of three of its revolutionary subsea technology systems.

The subsea processing technology developed by DES removes the need for divers during subsea intervention, allowing operators to squeeze more oil out of the subsea wells in a safer way using remotely operated vehicles.

Known as MARS (Multiple Application Re-injection System), the systems are destined for Shell's Bittern Field in the North Sea where they will be used to upgrade the subsea Xmas tree and maximize oil production.

DES has now sold five MARS systems, with the very first two going to the Gulf of Mexico for BP. The KING project is the first multiphase pump in the Gulf of Mexico as well as the deepest pump deployment ever and the longest high voltage subsea tie-back to a platform to date.

These combined sales have resulted in the company almost trebling its operations in the last twelve months and will see it increase its workforce and move to bigger premises in the very near future.

Set up in 1999 to develop this technology with backing from 3i and the DTI, DES now employs 23 people in Aberdeen and Houston.

The patented MARS system is being described by operators as a sort of "USB port" into their existing subsea xmas trees - the equipment which is placed over the wellhead to control the well - so that the well flow can be accessed on new and existing wells. This flow loop can then be used to increase production, therefore extending the life of the field and enable other processing equipment such as pumping, metering, water management and separation to be installed at any time.

"Flexible plug-in-and-play subsea processing has long been the Holy Grail of the oil and gas industry," says DES managing director, Ian Donald. "With MARS, operators now have a simple, low risk, low cost method of achieving this."

Commenting on the agreement with Shell, he says: "The current method to get more oil out of a subsea well can be diver intensive and therefore high risk and expensive. By using the MARS system, Shell is able to eliminate divers and complete the entire underwater operation using remotely operated vehicles."

Shell will be installing two MARS systems on the Bittern field in 2007, with the third being fitted onshore to a new subsea xmas tree before deployment.

Investors 3i backed DES to the tune of £2.5 million in 2007. Partner and head of oil, gas and power with 3i , Graeme Sword, says :"With more and more oil and gas production around the world coming from subsea wells and the need to maximize recovery from these reserves to ensure security of supply, DES' technology is very well-timed. The recent sales are the result of significant commitment by DES, with assistance from industry partners to complete the development and testing of MARS. The response from operators has been hugely positive and we are confident that DES will continue to expand rapidly."