Electrification of Offshore Operations for Lower-Cost, Lower-Carbon Energy

Published: 08/17/2021

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As the energy industry works to meet current and future demand for oil and gas, it is simultaneously tasked with doing so in a way that reduces the carbon footprint while also ensuring returns-focused performance and results. The offshore industry, which will continue to play a critical role in the overall energy mix, is looking to electrification as a means to reduce the amount of carbon emitted per barrel produced while enabling greater efficiency and performance. Production Systems President Donnie Ross explains how electrification is helping offshore operators drive greater performance, sustainably.

What role does electrification play in helping to decarbonize offshore operations?

Schlumberger recently announced its net-zero commitment, which is focused on three key areas: addressing our own operations, working with our customers to help them reduce their Scope 1 and 2 emissions, and carbon-negative actions.

In terms of working with our customers to reduce their emissions, we have recently introduced our Transition Technologies portfolio, which is comprised of technologies and solutions that enable more sustainable operations while simultaneously driving efficiency, reliability, and performance.

A key theme of this portfolio is electrification of infrastructure. Electrification translates to environmental sustainability benefits at multiple levels, such as enabling access to lower-carbon energy sources, reducing footprint by maximizing the use of existing infrastructure, aligning with platform electrification goals, and extending reservoir drainage from a single well while improving granularity and precision of systems controls.

Electrification of offshore operations
Electrification of offshore operations

How does electrification impact the industry’s digitalization efforts?

Over the past few years, much has been accomplished in terms of leveraging digitalization and data-driven solutions to enhance overall efficiency. However, to realize the full benefit of what digitalization has to offer, it must converge with electrification—from sandface to topside. When fully realized, all-electric systems will deliver offshore operators real-time, in-context data insights from embedded sensing, and full downhole control equipment control in a single wire, or wireless, distributed downhole network. Full electrification will give operators more dynamic precision control and access to automation capabilities across the infrastructure.

System integration plays a critical role in unlocking these benefits. There are many complex interfaces between the sandface, subsea, and topside, which, if not properly integrated, could disrupt the end-to-end system functionality. Because of this, offshore operators can benefit from collaborating with a full-scope supplier like Schlumberger to provide the full range of technology and expertise to deliver a seamlessly integrated electric energy system.

To realize the full benefit of what digitalization has to offer, it must converge with electrification—from sandface to topside.

What makes electrification a compelling option for offshore operators?

All-electric production systems allow us to optimize the size of the overall subsea infrastructure. In addition, electric umbilicals manufacturing is less complex, which results in lower costs, reduced lead times, and lower carbon impact.

When compared to hydraulic power, electric power is much more efficient for long-distance power transmission with much faster response times. Also, by removing hydraulic lines, we eliminate the use of hydraulic fluid for action, which removes the cost of hydraulic fluid consumables and the risk of fluid discharge into the environment. This also addresses safety issues associated with hydraulic pressure.

Another compelling factor is the fact that electric systems can reach farther than electrohydraulic ones. This means more producing zones in the same well than what we can achieve with electrohydraulic systems, resulting in fewer wells needed to achieve the same reservoir contact.

For our customers, this saves well construction costs, reduces time to commissioning, and helps to reduce CO2 emissions by minimizing drilling time and overall well footprint.

At the topside, electric systems transfer power directly to the point of use, which eliminates the need for hydraulics conversions on deck—reducing space and weight, and requiring less maintenance crews—and saves drilling costs.

What’s Schlumberger’s experience with all-electric systems—is this something new?

Schlumberger has been involved with the development of all-electric systems for decades. It started with the first downhole pressure gauge deployed in 1972, followed by the development of dozens of generations of permanent monitoring systems, of which the latest has a reliability rating close to 100%. The first all-electric downhole flow control valve was developed and qualified in 1998; however, it was never installed. Several generations followed, and since 2014, more than 50 all-electric flow control stations, connected to the Manara production and reservoir management system, have been deployed, and continuously operated, for 14 wells in Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and Russia. A fifteenth well installation is taking place this summer in Norway.

At seabed, the first all-electric Cameron subsea tree was installed for Total in 2008, including interfacing an all-electric subsurface safety valve from a third party. Second and third generations were installed in 2012 and 2016, with zero failure to date for millions of hours of operation. New generations of electric actuators have been developed for wide use. For example, the first all-electric manifold was just developed for the BP Trinidad and Tobago LLC Matapal gas project: The combination of a block valve manifold design and standard interfacing drop-in-place electric-actuators created a simple solution that also demonstrated optimizations during the manufacturing and testing process. Installation is scheduled in the second half of 2021 in Trinidad.

Subsea processing systems have offered fully electric equipment for decades, too, starting with the first subsea electrically driven multiphase pump in the Lufeng Field in 1997. Over a more than 20-year period, more than 30 electric multiphase pumps have been successfully deployed worldwide. A recent installation in the Vigdis Field in Norway consisted of an all-electric boosting system, comprising a pump module and drop-in-place electric actuators for chemical injection, choke operation, and process valves.

With a focus on providing solutions that align with our customers’ priorities, Schlumberger is involved with multiple ongoing joint development projects with operators. Some examples of next-generation electric technology developments are

  • technical collaboration agreement with Total, Equinor, and Petrobras in Brazil to develop the next-generation all-electric high-flow-rate intelligent completion
  • project with TotalEnergies and Equinor on a commitment to develop the next-generation electric tree system
  • projects for BP and for ExxonMobil for the next-generation all-electric and fiber optic monitoring openhole gravel pack system
  • project with Equinor for the next-generation subsea pump to replace the hydraulic fluid used as coolant and lubricant directly by the processing fluid.

Along with Schlumberger’s well completion electric technologies, these new projects will enable full electric subsea fields, providing superior performance in a new era of environmental stewardship.

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