OTC15: Day one roundup

May 4, 2015

The oil and gas industry must rely on technology, collaboration and several industries, including academia to excel in the advances of emerging offshore technology trends, BP Chief Operating Officer of Reservoir Development and IT&S James Dupree told 2015 Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) attendees at a breakfast panel on Monday, 4 May.

Dupree speaking at an OTC breakfast. Image from BP Twitter.

Dupree said that BP is relying on technology, that they are working on developing themselves, and with external collaboration using the Pasteur’s quadrant model to go back to basics to seek fundamental understanding of problems. The company is using inspired basic research and previous industry game-changing technology like coiled tubing, 4D seismic and downhole flow control to improve on tomorrow’s technology. According to Dupree, BP considers themselves as “selective developers,” and the company is focusing on advancing technology on imaging, 20K psi, enhanced oil recovery (EOR), and digital intelligence.

Dupree stressed that the oil and gas industry has to get to the point of learning quicker. He used the example of the company’s LoSal EOR, a fundamental step-change in waterflood enhanced oil recovery, which took about 20 years to develop.

Dupree said that the future of data highly depends on human interaction and that collaboration with the other industry professions and academia will benefit the oil and gas industry. BP is even looking to the Norwegian fishing industry to replace remotely operated vehicles (ROV).

The challenges of collaboration and using their ideas, Dupree said, is that they are finding that it is difficult for other industries to understand the oil and gas industry, because it is so technical and matching information to take what is learned and incorporating it into oil and gas is slowing down the process.

- Melissa Sustaita

Advances in subsea robotics and research, which could be used in the deepwater offshore oil and gas exploration industry, were presented by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute's (WHOI) Jim Bellingham at a breakfast session during today's OTC Houston opening day.

Bellingham. From OE Staff.

Sophisticated processing techniques are enabling today's subsea robots to not only identify subsea objects, rather than simply record and store all the data it collects, but also to track what it sees and to enable machine learning to reduce faults and down time. In addition, optical subsea communications technology is helping to open up machine to machine or machine to instrument communication, at up to 19Mb/sec through 150m of water at up to 6000m water depth, opening op possibilities for remote monitoring and instrumentation.

The technology is already enabling hi-brid AUV/ROV options, where an AUV, once in optic communication with a facility, can become an ROV, which would then be operated by a human on board a vessel or onshore to perform complex tasks.

Bellingham, who outlined a program WHOI is running with industry to increase industry-research collaboration, says: "Optical communications is also opening up whole new ways to use these vehicles. You can establish a real-time link. This has enormous implications. We have a lot of instruments on the sea floor which we would like to get data from, but we would like to leave our instruments on the sea floor.

"We could lower optical communications from a vessel, which doesn't have to have DP, or use an AUV to fly by or the vehicle docks into the instrumentation and becomes an ROV,  when the task becomes complex, and a human on the vessel or onshore takes over. This provides a way we can instrument subsea systems with optical communication systems and send vehicles down."

Further more, weight and mission length limitations are being overcome, particularly with the realization that using multiple smaller vehicles can dramatically increase efficiency as well as introducing a level of redundancy. 

"Increase vehicle numbers and they need to go only half the distance, so can go half the speed and need an eighth of the propulsion power. Two vehicles use a fourth of the energy of one to accomplish the same survey."

A recent vehicle, Tethys, weighing 120kg, traveled 1800km on one run in 2012, showing the run capability potential. 

- Elaine Maslin

Local content was the topic du jour during the CLOV Angola technical session on late Monday morning. Various speakers highlighted the way French operator Total used both local workforce and goods to make the CLOV project a reality.

Francois Bichon, who served as CLOV project director, spoke about how Total and its project partners utilized two local yards Paenal (in Port Amboim) and Sonamet to complete FPSO work. (See OE’s past coverage on Paenal here)

Considered the youngest yard, Paenal completed 7700 tonnes of fabrication and assembly, and 1.5 million man hours without a lost time incident. Bichon said the CLOV FPSO was the first berthed in Angola and the first module integration there. In terms of yard upgrades, Bichon noted the addition of a heavy lift crane for topsides (2500 tonnes and a quay extension from 80 to 480m. At Sonamet, 23,000 tonnes of fabrication occurred and 26,000 tonnes of assembly.

Bichon concluded stressing the importance of local content, calling it a “necessity” for operating companies.

“It is part of the unwritten contract with the country we’re working in,” he told the OTC audience. “It’s essential.

“Operators have to be involved because it can become their problem later,” Bichon said, noting that it is up to the operator to implement and carry out a safety culture, as well as to provide the right amount of supervision to ensure safety targets.

Patrick Vallot, who served as the FPSO manager on CLOV, highlighted Total’s commitment to reducing its environmental footprint, not only on this project but around the globe. Total and partners chose to create the newbuild CLOV FPSO with all electric variable speed drives, which Vallot said is a techology rare for offshore as it is commonly used onshore for refineries or chemical plants.

Total also instituted a no flaring policy, Vallot said.  “Total volume of gas flare is equivalent to the power consumption of the whole continent,” he told the crowd. However, Vallot said the no flaring policy is nothing unique to CLOV, and said that such a commitment exists on most projects in most countries. In some cases, he said, flaring can be authorized for only a short duration and will prior agreement, for emergency situations.

Michael Meyer, training coordinator for the CLOV project, highlighted Total's commitment to hiring a local workforce to operate its facilities. In 2011, the operator embarked on a 20 month program, and selected 51 candiates to fill a potential 45 positions. By December 2012, the training program, conducted only in English, granted 36 upstream operator certification, with 12 going to work on CLOV FPSO, and 24 filing positions on other Block 17 FPSOs. Training also included an immersive training simulator (ITS) with a 3D model designed by DSME, developed by Siemens with Total e-nnovation department.

-Audrey Leon


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