DOI: 10.2118/0823-0049-jpt ISSN:

Technology Focus: Subsea Systems (August 2023)

Colin Johnston
  • Strategy and Management
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Industrial relations
  • Fuel Technology

Emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic, and coupled with increasing activity for energy production, the latest focus on subsea systems indicates that the subsea industry is moving with the times, reflecting technology developments, and meeting overall society demands in terms of holistic energy supply. The papers reviewed and selected focus on key development areas—carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS); renewable energy applications; and subsea storage. Implementing subsea systems to meet energy demands maintains the traditional emphasis on reviewing, refining, and incrementally improving the techniques and technology applications of today. Such efforts have a huge bearing on the direction of subsea engineering, and the overall efficiency and effectiveness of subsea operations cannot be underestimated in their contribution to the energy mix. It is worth noting that, with the current focus on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, subsea developments are among the lowest in terms of GHG footprint per barrel of oil equivalent, reflective of application improvements over many decades. While not a solution to the overall energy challenges themselves, this is a good marker for where future offshore industry efforts are positioned with regard to the energy transition.

Specifically looking at the papers in review, we see carbon storage optimizing subsea development potential, adding to and incorporating existing technology as well as adapting it to optimize the massive potential of subsea CCUS storage, particularly in conjunction with near-shore CO2-production-intensive industries. In addition, with a nod toward the energy transition, the application of renewable energy to assist with reducing the GHG footprint of subsea operations is presented. Finally, from an efficiency point of view, as existing subsea systems approach all-electric operations, the parallel demand for increasing monitoring through improved sensing and communications is presented through analysis of all-optical subsea sensing capability with a potential effect on life-of-field efficiency.

I hope these selections will spur thoughts and affect how we as subsea engineers approach future developments for both hydrocarbon and energy-transition requirements.

Recommended additional reading at OnePetro:

SPE 210910 Innovative Industry Lead Project for Renewables for Subsea Power by Ian Roger Crossland, Mocean Energy, et al.

SPE 205433 A Road Map for Renewable Energy Integration With Subsea Processing Systems by Juliano Pimentel, Aker Solutions, et al.

OTC 31294 Subsea Liquid Energy Storage—The Bridge Between Oil and Energy/Hydrogen by Kristian Mikalsen, National Oilwell Varco

OTC 32449 A New Subsea Station for Deep Gas Treatment Allowing Maximizationof Subsea Gas Fields Production by Paul Roland, Saipem, et al.

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