Time to ACT with smarter technology

Time to ACT with smarter technology

Posted: November 17, 2016

In a low oil price marketplace, how can subsea operators continue to prosper and maximise field life? It sounds like a complex question but the answer is relatively straight-forward.

In these difficult times it is fundamental to change the way we act and respond to a challenge. Just as there’s never been a greater need for industry collaboration, we must think smarter about technology and how we can use what already exists in different ways together.

A New Approach

A high reliability of hydrocarbon production and a consistent revenue return on investment are fundamentals for any operator – and yet many companies are failing to achieve this for a variety of reasons. With more than 80 per cent of world energy use still reliant on fossil fuel, the maintenance and optimisation of often aging brownfield subsea fields is critical. The industry has a moral as well as an economic obligation to maximise total production from these difficult reserves.

At Proserv, we have identified that almost half of all client engagement looking for alternative solutions is because of dissatisfaction with the reliability of their current subsea production control systems. Others are seeking to add new wells or instrumentation to an existing asset, or simply looking to extend field life.

The challenges and opportunities that the industry faces with brownfield subsea developments are varied, but all too often the industry’s initial response to them is not. The frequent reaction to a problem is to call for a complete system change – to “remove the old and replace with new”- when sometimes a more flexible approach may be appropriate.

Core to our offering is the practice of working around the problem to find out the best solution rather than trying to address the issue with a single restrictive product offering approach. We must think smarter about technology and how we can use what already exists in different ways together.

Proserv Augmented Control Technologies (ACT) Is an approach that involves allowing additional control technologies to be deployed to augment an existing control system and open up a range of opportunities that were previously not available for the client. When faced with a challenge around equipment reliability, obsolescence or a subsea field upgrade, Operators are typically presented with a solution by the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) to replace their systems, which is a very expensive exercise and it can also affect production.

This is where the market could benefit from thinking differently than before.

Think smart and break out from the norm

Rather than discard all the old technology and equipment, not all of which necessarily needs changing, a more cost-effective solution is to work with the current system, selectively removing and replacing the components where change is required, and improving performance overall.

Proserv ACT includes the company’s Artemis 2G (A2G) subsea electronics module, a next generation controls and communications tool that uniquely frees operators from the constraints of an existing brownfield umbilical by finding additional signal capacity to enable a cost-effective field upgrade or extension.

A tool such as A2G can be used to co-exist with existing networks, is fully back compatible with all existing technology and does not require any proprietary software for remote configuration and support. We can superimpose this technology onto a pre-existing control system using either the powerline or the existing signal line, without affecting the OEM control.

A2G is effectively the brain of the subsea and control operations because unlike many other tools, it controls all of the communication systems and enables the power, speed and accessibility necessary for the control and monitoring of challenging subsea infrastructures and environments.

The subsea business has been challenged with proprietary protocols and a monopoly situation driving only one vendor on each system. In the current climate in the oil industry we need to open up and think differently, together operators and the industry can make the necessary changes. The Proserv ACT approach offers an open and non-proprietary system enabling more than one subsea vendor to deliver their solution.

Topside interfacing can also be a challenge on older assets. Making improvements can be expensive and difficult due to a lack of available documentation and skills. A fully configurable subsea system will make this integration more flexible and cost effective. Systems such as A2G also include the capability to mimic the behaviour of the old system allowing the existing distribution control system to run with minimal changes.

In these austere times, it is fundamental to change the way we act and respond to a challenge. Operators have to ask themselves how long they can afford to do nothing, which is why we’re encouraging them to think co-exist rather than replacement.

Just as there’s never been a greater need for industry collaboration, we must think smarter about technology and how we can use what already exists in different ways together.

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