The Society for Underwater Technology Technical Conference 2010 in Rio de Janeiro discusses the main challenges to be faced in Deepwater O&G exploration and examines the many possible solutions through technological innovations.
The challenges faced in exploring deepwater O&G reservoirs are truly incredible. Quoting the visionary Brazilian businessman and investor Eike Batista, himself a player in the O&G industry, “The pre-salt is like going to the moon”.
Pre-salt E&P is certainly not the only challenge in deepwater development, but most specialists in the area of deepwater subsea systems development agree that it may be the biggest challenge, as drilling through the 2,000 meter thick salt crusts sometimes lying in excess of 3,000 meters underwater to get to the O&G reservoirs is a very, very complicated task, as is designing and installing subsea equipement that will withstand the huge pressure and low temperatures and sometimes with extreme currents and irregular and rock filled seabed topography.
The Society for Underwater Technology in partnership with its Brazilian branch UK Brazil Center of Ocean Engineering has brought many of the world´s greatest deepwater O&G exploration and production specialists to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, (widely considered the new frontier in deepwater E&P, for a technical conference to discuss the issues related to this challenge). At the 5 star Pestana Rio Hotel, at Copacabana Beach.
The opening keynote presentation by Mr. M. Diniz, Petrobras´ E&P Subsea Services General Manager set the tone for the conference. On speaking about the present and future challenges faced by Petrobras Subsea Operations, Mr. Diniz called for a concentrated effort by all players and service providers to share knowledge and experiences in order to meet the deepwater pre-salt challenges and all challenges faced by those trying to explore the vital deepwater O&G reservoirs around the world and specifically here in Brazil.
Although not unheard of, it may be considered a very rare occurrence for major O&G players to take such a step towards sharing experimental and operational information which in any other case would be considered strategic and confidential. I believe this proactive attitude perfectly exemplifies the complexities involved in deepwater exploration.
This keynote presentation was followed an excellent explanation of the Seabed ESP boosting system developed by Shell for the Parque das Conchas play by Mrs. Olijnik from Shell and by an inspiring presentation by Dr. Kallestad from Statoil´s acomplishments and its moto of Longer-Deeper-Colder, subsea solutions for the next decade..
From this opening presentation the first day of the conference went on to emulate one of those scientific meetings where scientists freely discuss their theories and possible solutions to various problems related to specific areas of deepwater development. It must be said that most themes were related to problems or solutions regarding deep and ultra-deepwater subsea systems.
A Petrobras speaker, Mr. Kuchpil, explained the subsea raw water injection system being used at the Albacora field, while other speakers discussed flow assurance and AR lift considerations for pre-salt operations in the GOM or the world´s first SLWR (steel lazy wave risers) installed at the Parque das Conchas field, while others spoke about new approaches to flex pipe integrity analysis. An engineer from the China University of Petroleum also showed an interesting ship mounted model of a lifting system for installation of deepwater risers and other subsea hardware that can be installed in various ship sizes.
Engineers from COPPE-UFRJ exposed their experimentations with the novel technology of sandwich pipes, offering a possible alternative to PIP´s for ultra deepwater, MCS and JP Kenny engineers spoke about the latest advances in design and routing of PIP flowlines also for ultra deepwater. A Tenaris-Confab representative, which works closely with COPPE in deepwater systems development spoke about buckling evaluation of welded pipes, and the first day ended with a very interesting expositions by a representative of the DeepStar project, which looks for solution to some of the greatest challenges faces by deepwater development.
I hope to be able to write a bit about each presentation, but for now this will have to suffice, for tomorrow will be a long day with much more information being shared and discussed by these great men and women who dedicate their lives to facing the challenges of the deep.
Special thanks to Dr. Murilo Vaz manager of the UK Brazil Center of Ocean Engineering, who very kindly approved my participation as the only press attendant and has been extremely helpful and also to Mr. Bob Allwood Chief Executive of SUT, who was my first senior contact upon attaining my membership with SUT and who encouraged me to attend the conference when I first asked him about it, many months ago.
(Member of the Society for Underwater Technology and UK Brazil Center of Ocean Engineering).
Photo courtesy of FMC Technologies