DNV students propose new subsea solution for Gulf of Mexico
HØVIK, Norway -- Tasked by DNV with developing new ideas for oil recovery at 2,500 m depth in the Gulf of Mexico, a group of 20 international graduating master’s students have proposed a subsea concept involving a submerged tension leg processing platform midwater to evade the difficult conditions on the seabed. Additionally, storage tanks at 200 m depth avoid the use of an FPSO and the complications of bad weather risks while still being accessible for shuttle tankers and intervention.
The students propose combining existing technology in new ways and new places. By finding an optimal depth for the different processes, it would also be easier to standardise the equipment. This concept, called SPSO (Subsea Processing, Storage and Offloading) Cobia, would be able to operate 300 km from shore.
The proposed processing facility, at a depth of 1,000 m, would have a robotic arm that could reach all platform elements for intervention and component replacement tasks, supplemented by a connected ROV to carry out intervention on the platform, seabed and crude storage tanks. The entire SPSO Cobia would be powered electrically from shore using a long distance low-frequency power cable coupled with high-voltage motors.
Based on initial assessments, the students argue that the concept is technically feasible and may become profitable at oil prices as low as $66 per barrel and have an internal return rate of nearly 14%. CAPEX is calculated to be NOK 22 billion ($4 billion) and OPEX NOK 750 million annually.
Representatives of DNV and industry, who saw the students’ presentation and documentation, have expressed interest in the ideas and solution, citing the students’ familiarity with other projects and existing technology as additional strengths.