Deepwater Remote Operations Challenges
Today, much emphasis is given to working with real-time production data, real-time pipeline monitoring, leak detection and equipment condition monitoring. ROV/ AUV operations are used to support all sorts of deepwater seafloor construction processes, allowing operators to continuously monitor their subsea systems and intervene when necessary. Basically all equipment being installed on the seafloor has real-time communication systems, which allow operators on the surface to monitor the equipment’s performance and even control much of the equipment from the surface. Equipment that can be monitored from the surface but which cannot be manipulated remotely, rely on ROVs to manipulate their controls, which once again highlights the vital part played by ROVs in deepwater fields and in seafloor construction. Developments in underwater acoustic, wireless and optical communication with the surface have greatly increased in the last five years and these are becoming essential in decreasing the number of cables and umbilicals used for communications. There is still a long way to go here, but the trend is for an increased use of wireless communication methods in subsea fields. Hopping the data to extend the range is increasingly being used, where data transmissions initiated automatically from the seafloor, are then relayed along a chain of repeaters to the FPSO.
Subsea trees are being installed in multiple pre-salt fields for both production and injection wells. Some of the equipment was designed and manufactured at FMC Technologies' facilities in Brazil and FMC’s Well Access Completion Workover Riser (CWOR) system is used for installation, completion and intervention of these subsea trees. For light construction and subsea equipment installation FMC uses its FTO Services, which is capable of providing a number of important light construction services, including the installation of subsea trees and jumpers, as well as field commissioning activities. Each vessel is equipped with a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) owned and operated by Chouest affiliate C-Innovation to guide and connect equipment. Aker also has a large contract for subsea tree installation in the pre-salt, concerning installation work on 60 well-sets with vertical subsea trees, subsea control systems, tools and spares within a four-year period, 2014-2018. This has led Aker to increase its footprint in Brazil, "We are continuing our efforts to establish large-scale manufacturing capabilities based on the technologies developed for Petrobras during our first pre-salt projects," said Luis Araujo, president and country manager of Aker Solutions in Brazil.