OTC: ExxonMobil adopts global approach to subsea processing technology

ExxonMobil Corp. is approaching its research, development, and qualification of subsea processing technologies from a more global rather than project-specific perspective to help reduce costs and streamline schedules for future subsea projects, the company told a technical session on May 7 at the Offshore Technology Conference in Houston.

While the qualification of subsea two-phase, gas-liquid separators and three-phase, gas-oil-water separators historically has been completed on a project-by-project basis, ExxonMobil Development Co. recently completed a qualification program to develop subsea separation technologies for a global subsea portfolio rather than a defined project.

Results of the qualification program—which were presented in a technical paper coauthored by ExxonMobil Upstream Research Co.—indicated ExxonMobil, on a broader subsea processing project scale, could mitigate technical risks generally associated with separation technologies that require extensive upfront engineering costs and time to address when executed on a project-by-project basis.

Using a shallow-water, three-phase separator design to meet separation performance targets over a wide range of operating conditions, the qualification program addressed technical issues involving flow paths, feed rates, gas-liquid and oil-water interface levels, plugging, fouling, performance rate deteriorations, sand handling, pump erosion, operating pressures, build-up of wax or scales, emulsions, foam, and gas surges, among others.

Based on the company’s experience as an active partner in subsea processing projects such as Tordis in the North Sea and Pazflor off Angola as well as the completion of its recent qualification program, ExxonMobil said it is now confident in applying these separation technologies in its global subsea portfolio to reduce the cost and schedule impact of upfront engineering on future subsea projects.

ExxonMobil said that, over the past several years, it has increasingly taken this more global approach in researching, developing, and qualifying subsea processing technologies through its ExxonMobil Subsea Technology Project (SSTP).

The SSTP has included work on subsea boosting (single-phase, gas-tolerant, and multiphase pumps and wet-gas compression), separation (shallow-water, two-phase, and three-phase separation and a deep-water compact separation system), electrical (long-distance transmission and distribution), and reliable safety systems (high-integrity pressure protection system), according to the paper.

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