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The main benefit of subsea processing seems obvious: reduce hydrostatic head, lighten topside facilities and keep fluid/solid separation close to the seabed for reinjection of produced water and solids. Flowlines would then carry crude and gas alone, so that a final polishing could be accomplished onshore, saving even more capital.
This vision is compelling, but its implementation has taken decades and its advances are adopted slowly. In 1985, the first subsea Christmas tree was installed followed in 1993 by the first subsea multiphase pump. Separation systems weren’t implemented until 1999 for liquids and gas-liquid flow separation wasn’t attempted subsea until 2001. This year, the first combination subsea separation, boosting and injection system will be installed in the North Sea at the Tordis SSBI development, Fig. 1. Compression and power distribution systems are being planned at Ormen Lange in the North Sea.
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