2018 Offshore Technology Yearbook

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50 | December 2017 | 2018 OFFSHORE TECHNOLOGY YEARBOOK | SUBSEA took over older facilities and made more of them through lower-cost operations and clever engineer- ing, and the current Phase 3, in which the opera- tors, such as Alpha, IOG and Hurricane, are small and have a different business relationship with the supply chain. Surprisingly, these smaller players are not put off the idea of adopting something new if it will allow them to get their reserves into production. While some of majors have balked at the idea of fi eld trials of new equipment on their facilities, "the new guys," according to Pearson, could be thinking "bring it on" if it gets a cash-producing asset fl ow- ing hydrocarbons. They also may be more amenable to collabo- ration. With nothing to hide and everything to gain, these new small players could just provide the impetus to get a new fl ow of projects in motion. ITF Another organization with its finger on the pulse of the innovators is the Industry Technol- ogy Facilitator (ITF). It is an open secret that some of the technology-based organizations have suffered just like everyone over the last three years. ITF, which under the leadership of Patrick O'Brien rose to its largest-ever membership of more than 30 before the crash, has now fallen back to half that size, although there still are a number of companies that participate in ITF projects, but not as members. O'Brien, a founder of Irish engineering/design company MCS, later acquired by Wood Group, and with a long pedigree of innovation in riser design and operations, concurred with a number of focal points suggested by Pearson–long-dis- tance tiebacks and reducing the cost of pipelines. The ITF leader made mention of simpler gas-liq- uid separation technology to make LDTs more viable, with at least one major engineering house already at work on a project. ITF is also interested in alternative pipeline connection technology to bring down the cost of installation. O'Brien mentioned that a Dutch-sec- tor operator had already qualifi ed NOV's cold- forged Zap-Lok technology for an upcoming offshore project. There are other areas that need addressing as well, according to O'Brien. The longstand- ing thorn in the subsea sector's side–standard- ization–remains an unresolved issue, but it's even more so in the context of "industrializing" the subsea industry. A field development exec- utive from a Japanese company involved in a major project bemoaned the lack of a "Honda christmas tree," for instance. That would be a fine thing. Outside of the subsea world there is other work, for instance in geophysics, that could aid the revival of a sector that needs a real boost. The discovery of the giant Johan Sverdrup Field in Norway, with 2 Bbbl to 3 Bbbl of oil in place, made a number of people sit up and notice. Not because its discovery was unexpected, but because some of the biggest companies in the industry, including Exxon Mobil, Total (actually Elf in an earlier guise) and Statoil drilled close to or even in the middle of the giant structure without actually seeing it. Subsurface work by Lundin Petroleum, headed by former specialists from Saga Petrolem, led to a different perspective on the geological structures and a more success- ful drilling campaign. Work supported by ITF has been ongoing for more than decade at Imperial College on fullwave inversion analysis, which is already making a major impact on subsurface imaging. This work, dubbed FullWave Gamechanger, has resulted in collaboration with at least three major subsur- face specialists and the establishment of a spinoff company, S-Cube. Asset management O'Brien also mentioned another ongoing issue, asset management and inspection. While much has been said in recent years about learning as much as possible about aging assets to keep them in oper- ation, O'Brien noted a paper given at the Offshore Technology Conference this year by an ABB engi- neer who cited statistics showing that 80% of fail- ures are not age-related. What do those working at the sharp end think about technology as the answer to the industry's current woes?

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