The increasing pressure on offshore operators to reduce costs and produce hydrocarbons more sustainably is driving significant change in the oil and gas industry. For many operators, this means rethinking conventional processes and technologies to remain competitive today and throughout the energy transition. One of the most beneficial things offshore operators can do to enhance their operational efficiency and minimize carbon emissions is to reevaluate electrohydraulic subsea production technologies for both their existing and new installations.
Related: Electrification of Offshore Operations for Lower-Cost, Lower-Carbon Energy
We sat down with Schlumberger’s Technology Manager for Production Systems Hebert Heidenreich to discuss how replacing hydraulic with electric systems can enable performance-based returns, offer better reliability, help operators re-imagine their subsea field architecture, and reduce CO2 and environmental footprint.
What are some of the unique capabilities enabled by all-electric subsea production systems?
Subsea electrification brings considerable simplification of the subsea templates and associated topside infrastructures. Operators can remove all hydraulic elements, simplify subsea distribution units, and eliminate hundreds of kilometers of hydraulic control lines without adding major electrical requirements to the system. This enables the creation of simplified, optimal system architecture, which enables new frontiers with deeper and longer step-out wells. It also addresses all the health, safety, and environmental (HSE) issues associated with pressurized fluids.
Reducing the size and weight of the subsea structures naturally translates into lower costs. This also applies to the umbilical interfaces as they are much smaller in diameter. Because subsea electric systems are simpler in terms of their design, they can be delivered and installed within shorter lead times and with fewer vessel trips, making project economics more favorable.
Subsea electrification comes with built-in sensing and monitoring that enable distributing the system’s intelligence differently and decentralizing the decision points closer to the physical actuators. Increased well connectivity with smart electric completions also reduces subsea structures, enhances recovery, and reduces production deferment. The possibility of daisy-chaining electrical actuators instead of the usual point-to-point connection of hydraulic actuators opens new opportunities for system architecture optimizations.
Furthermore, subsea electrification enables accessing stranded reserves at deeper water depths and with long step-outs that tie back to existing infrastructures. The all-electric system can be operated with conventional topside systems, which means all-electric trees will be able to co-exist with conventional trees for brownfield applications. Adding more remote wells without having to deploy specific topside infrastructures will both contribute to the cost benefits and lower carbon impact.