— Photo by Ashley Fitzpatrick/The Telegram
As the search for oil intensifies in the world’s icy, deepwater environments, more oil companies are looking at advances in subsea technology to maximize what they get from their investments.
As explained by speakers at the fall seminar of the Newfoundland and Labrador Oil and Gas Industries Association — held at the Delta Hotel in St. John’s Wednesday — the use of seafloor installations, advanced underwater pipelines and risers, can allow for the recovery of more oil from an oilfield.
Could extend existing sites
Subsea constructions can also extend the reach of existing, major developments and allow the pumping of satellite fields once considered out of reach, or too expensive to pursue.
The area of subsea technology is the focus of a great deal of research at the moment, with oil companies and suppliers trying to develop new tech, get costs down on existing tech and find ways to monitor and manage subsea installations.
There are companies with a presence locally with experience in subsea work.
Of those with representatives at the Noia event, new assets, even new, local buildings were
plugged during their time at the podium.
“We’re currently building a new facility in Mount Pearl. That will open shortly,” said Pat George, director of business development for Canada and Greenland for FMC. “We’re looking at (the new site) to support our efforts in the Beaufort Sea and in Greenland.”
George said this province has the ability to jump on new tech ideas, with institutions like Memorial University of Newfoundland (MUN) and other, local institutions having shown a capacity for research and development work. In addition, there are companies actively providing research and development funding locally, he said.
The morning’s emcee, Rob Strong, took over from George, acknowledging FMC’s big, blue building in Donovan’s Industrial Park.
“It’s good to see FMC investing in the community and investing in the local people,” he said.
In a different display of local benefits, managing director of Technip Canada, Jason Muise, said that company has about 160 employees locally, many of them Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. Muise himself is a Newfoundlander and MUN graduate.
“We all know the (oil) business is going to be robust over the next four to five years, but in the long-term it’s all about sustainability,” he said.
He said he sees long-term opportunity in subsea developments.
Brian Rogers, engineering manager with Subsea 7 Canada, emphasized the research and development work his company has undertaken in recent years around subsea operations, including continuing work on an autonomous inspection vehicle.
Supply and services
Husky Energy’s subsea project manager, Bill Hiller, said Newfoundland and Labrador has developed a base of both supply and service companies and individuals capable of tackling challenges of the subsea tech frontier.
“We’re working on world-class projects, international projects,” he said.
He said Husky’s South White Rose Extension is a smaller reservoir than current producers offshore, but is being developed with subsea technology.
Tor Arne Gunnerod offered the gathering the experience of Statoil’s subsea work, saying Statoil began in the mid-1980s, with a single line running to a concrete platform. From there, it has progressed to multiple pipeline tiebacks and to undersea installations covering some operations typically done from a platform, like gas injection.
Gunnerod and others acknowledged the limitations on the current technology — the reach of lines, or the power needed to heat deep pipelines and allow for some fluid processing underwater.
That said, research and development work continues to challenge what is considered possible.
“It’s very fascinating to see the developments in subsea technologies as they evolve,” said the
afternoon’s emcee, NOIA’s Mike Critch.