April 2015
Technology at OTC

OTC Spotlight on New Technology Awards: Innovations focus on reliability

In subsea technology, the operative word is reliability. A common theme in this year’s OTC Spotlight on New Technology winners is dependable operation under harsh subsea conditions.

In subsea technology, the operative word is reliability. A common theme in this year’s OTC Spotlight on New Technology winners is dependable operation under harsh subsea conditions. Technologies run the gamut from seismics to drilling and completions, to testing and inspection, to platform abandonment and decommissioning. Winning companies range from international technology giants to small and highly specialized firms. This year, OTC created a new Small Business Award to recognize innovations by companies with 300 or fewer employees.


Intelligent well system
Intelligent well system

The Baker Hughes MultiNode all-electric, intelligent well system is a remote-controlled, electric system that allows the user to monitor and precisely control an extended number of production zones—without intervention—all at a lower cost compared to other solutions.

The MultiNode system balances production along the lateral, controlling water or gas breakthrough, and increasing ultimate oil recovery. It enables real-time remote monitoring and control for proactive production optimization, and helps the user adjust to changing wellbore conditions by choking or closing high-water- and high-gas-producing zones. The system lowers costs, and increases reach and reliability by controlling multiple zones with a single electric line.

The MultiNode system consists of electrically actuated, active flow-control device (AFCD) downhole valves, connected to a surface control unit (SCU) by a single tubing-encased conductor (TEC) cable. Multiple AFCD valves can be installed in cased and open-hole wellbores, to segment and control production performance. Each AFCD includes six customizable choke settings, including open and closed positions, for controlling flow in each zone. The surface unit provides precision control of downhole AFCD valves. The SCU features an intuitive interface that allows operators to actuate the connected AFCD valves in real time. A flexible SCADA interface can be used to remotely monitor and control the MultiNode system from virtually anywhere.


Cameron’s Mark IV system—featuring the industry’s first three-POD design option—improves operational reliability of the drilling system through redundancy and a simplified POD design. Conventional subsea BOP control systems use a two-POD design, providing a single spare if the primary control POD becomes unavailable. The Mark IV system’s third POD provides additional redundancy, which eliminates the need to pull the stack if one POD fails. It also can improve the subsea control system’s availability to as much as 98%, and reduce the likelihood of a POD-related stack pull by up to 73%.

The system’s simple design increases the functionality of each POD in a smaller, lighter package. Designed with 50% fewer tubing connections, the potential for leak paths is reduced, and the addition of redundant solenoid pilot regulators means they are no longer a single point of failure within the POD. Each POD has 33% more available functions to accommodate eight cavity stacks. (See article, page 170.)


Multilateral stimulation system
Multilateral stimulation system

Fishbones, a Small Business Winner, has developed a new method for increasing reservoir connectivity. The Dreamliner utilizes needles with rotating drillbits, increasing reservoir contact without fracturing. Each Dreamliner joint contains three needles that are secured in place with a drill-through mechanism. Each of the drill bits is driven by a turbine, powered by the main flow through the liner. The system is designed so that open-hole anchors can be run in between the joints to avoid temperature elongation of the completion. The string is run into the open hole, then the liner hanger slips are set. Open-hole anchors are positioned in the well.

As drill fluid flow is stepped up, the anchors are set, and further-increased flow bursts the disc in the shoe. As the flow increases, turbines and needles reach their working RPMs, and rotation releases the needles from the drill-through disks. While drilling a lateral, the rotating drill bits are pressed against the rock. Cuttings are circulated out of the lateral and up the wellbore to suface. Drilling continues until all needles are fully extended. The liner hanger element is set, sealing the annulus, and the liner hanger setting tool is pulled. Then, the upper completion is run. (See also World Oil, July 2014, p. 108.)


FMC Technologies’ Annulus Monitoring System provides independent condition monitoring within the subsea wellhead from the onset of drilling. The communication system delivers actionable information to the operator during critical phases of well installation, and commissioning from multiple analog or digital sensors within annular locations.


Halliburton’s RezConnect well-testing system is a complete well testing solution for wireless control of downhole drillstem test tools (DST), and measurement and analysis of well-test data in real time. Previously, control of DST tools was done through annulus pressure manipulation. The RezConnect system uses Halliburton’s proprietary DynaLink Telemetry system, a fully wireless downhole sensor and actuator network using acoustic energy in the tubing string. The RezConnect Well Testing System integrates all the DST tools and allows surface verification of their operational status.

Additionally, it provides acoustic control of DST tools, and actuation of downhole fluid samplers. It also collects real-time well flow measurement, and bottomhole pressure and temperature data for reservoir performance monitoring and analysis.


Deepwater pile dredge
Deepwater pile dredge

The Oceaneering Deepwater Pile Dredge (DWPD) is an electrically driven, subsea hydraulic power unit with mounted pumps that provide water jetting and suction to excavate piles at any depth. The jetting provides a 360° pattern to fluidize soil inside the pile. Meanwhile, the suction pumps remove material, such as sand, rock or clay.

As exploration and production move to deeper waters, the ability to dredge at greater depths is crucial. While typical pile dredges are often run using a topside spread that supplies hydraulic power to the dredge, greatly limiting its effective depth, the DWPD is powered by an electrical umbilical similar to an ROV, and thus has no real depth limit.

The tool is controlled topside from a dedicated control van. The DWPD is guided into a pile by an ROV, which also operates manual valves to control the water jetting. Markings on the dredge are used to ensure proper depth is achieved, and that the pile’s critical internal features are successfully cleared of debris.


Subsea inspection system
Subsea inspection system

The Oceaneering Magna Subsea Inspection System (Magna Scan) is a versatile screening tool that assesses the mechanical integrity of assets at a high rate of speed without disrupting production. Additionally, the system only requires clean surface access from the top portion of subsea assets. The advanced system is ROV-deployable, inspects volumetrically 360° around the pipe, and provides real-time data for the wall condition within a single deployment.

With the development of multiple technologies, Magna Scan provides numerous advantages over traditional subsea inspection methods. The system identifies localized defects and general wall loss by optimizing ultrasonic techniques, including lamb and shear, horizontal guided wave capabilities. By combining Oceaneering’s automated scanner, known as the “SeaTurtle,” with its proprietary ultrasonic sensors, the system can detect internal and external damage, including corrosion, isolated pitting, cracking and other potential anomalies. The innovative system safely assists in preventing any catastrophic disasters in subsea piping that could result in the release of product into the environment.


SBM Offshore has introduced the ARCA Chain Connector, a new design for attaching mooring lines to floating units. Placing the chain articulation in the mooring line allows them to be recovered for inspection and maintenance. In response to market demand, the ARCA also allows for diverless connection/disconnection and significant cost reduction for turret mooring systems.


Multiphase compressor
Multiphase compressor

The OneSubsea Multiphase Compressor is the first true, wet-gas compressor with no requirements for an upstream separation facility or an anti-surge system. The compressor is a contra-rotating machine designed specifically for pressure boosting of unprocessed well streams. This unique configuration, developed in collaboration with Statoil, allows for a compact, robust design that can be installed using light intervention vessels. It is based on the well-proven design developed for subsea booster pumps.

The multiphase compressor can handle high liquid contents without mechanical issues, with gas volume fractions typically in the range of 95–100%. The application of a wet gas compressor in the subsea environment simplifies a subsea compression system significantly, with no need for pre-processing.

The main driver in the development of the multiphase compressor was the need to increase recovery rates in subsea gas fields. Gullfaks field, operated by Statoil in the North Sea, will see the first commercial deployment of subsea wet-gas compression. Currently, the recovery rate for Gullfaks is at 62%. However, by utilizing the multiphase compression system, Statoil foresees that the recovery rate will increase to 74%, or by 22 MMboe. (See article, page 177.)


Schlumberger’s GeoSphere reservoir mapping service reveals subsurface-bedding and fluid-contact details, more than 100 ft from the wellbore. This reservoir-scale view provides an unprecedented depth of investigation, enabling operators to optimize landing, maximize reservoir exposure and refine field development plans. Using deep, directional electromagnetic measurements, the GeoSphere service precisely maps the reservoir top. With a clear, real-time view of the reservoir, operators can land optimally and avoid losing lateral exposure or creating sumps. By exposing more of the lateral section to the reservoir, GeoSphere improves production potential and maintains wellbore integrity.

Pilot holes, which are often drilled to evaluate the formation before landing the horizontal, can cost tens of millions of dollars offshore. Even when drilled, pilot holes do not effectively mitigate risks in complex reservoirs, where shallow or deep landings may occur. Resolving the reservoir and its boundaries, the GeoSphere service optimizes well landing—eliminating drilling risks and costs associated with pilot holes. The service helps refine geological reservoir models, to provide a deeper understanding of subsurface boundaries and fluid contacts in complex environments. Data provided by the service is integrated with seismic data, to help operational engineers analyze the reservoir, adjust well paths while drilling and deliver
smoother wellbores.


Photorealistic reservoir imaging
Photorealistic reservoir imaging

Schlumberger’s Quanta Geo photorealistic reservoir geology service redefines imaging, in oil-base mud, to provide highly detailed, core-like microresistivity images that visually represent formation geology. These images enable confident visual identification of facies and determination of directional trends, reducing uncertainty in reservoir models.

The sonde design of the Quanta Geo service employs eight independent, interlaced, trapezoidal dual-arms equipped with eight imaging pads. Because the pads are not used to center the tool, the tendency toward sticking is reduced. The trapezoidal dual-arm design enables imaging during both the down and up passes. Downlogging reduces the effect of stick-slip motion, which often occurs during standard upward logging acquisition, and thus reduces the potential for requiring additional logging passes to record better-quality data. 


Subsea pipeline inspection
Subsea pipeline inspection

Tracero’s Discovery diagnostics tool allows online inspection of subsea pipe from the outside without removing the protective coating. As assets age over time, oilfield professionals are faced continuously with the test of ensuring efficient production and pipeline integrity. Inspection of these subsea pipelines has often presented challenges, where pigging is not an option or deemed too risky. Inspecting a pipeline from the outside has been costly, and often poses an ineffective high risk. Discovery has been created for flow assurance and integrity specialists concerned with subsea pipelines that cannot be inspected by conventional means, such as ILI tools.

Discovery is designed to detect wall thinning and build-up, such as hydrates, sand or wax. It can be deployed on unpiggable pipelines, online, without any interruption to production or the need for pipeline modifications. The tool is deployed using an ROV and clamped onto the pipe. Real-time communications allow instant assessment of pipeline conditions. Different versions are available, based on pipe diameter and depth of deployment, and all are fully marinized. Unlike alternative technologies, such as ultrasonic and pulsed eddy current, this tool eliminates the expense and risk of damaging pipelines on coating removal/re-application.


Versabar and one of its key clients teamed to produce Versacutter, a safer, more efficient and environmentally friendly method of cleanly severing subsea structures, 15 ft below the mudline. Versabar engineered a working prototype, to be used in conjunction with the VB 10,000, to remove a 250-ton caisson-mounted topside. The Versacutter utilizes wire rope threaded with custom-engineered tungsten-carbide beads, and is operated by hydraulic winches. The cutting wire successfully sawed through the mud and cleanly severed the 60-ton caisson, along with both internal and external conductors, a total of eight interfaces of steel and concrete, in just 10 hr. Following the successful cut, the VB 10,000 lifted the entire structure and towed it back to port, where it was placed on a barge for transport to a salvage facility.


Subsea water cut meter
Subsea water cut meter

Weatherford’s Red Eye Subsea Water Cut Meter uses near-infrared absorption to provide water-onset detection, water cut measurement, and water-to-hydrate inhibitor-ratio measurement. The meter can operate in full three-phase flowstreams at any gas-volume fraction, and is not affected by changes in salinity, eliminating the need for corrections related to these factors.

The Red Eye meter features a number of innovative technologies. This is the first stand-alone subsea meter capable of measuring water cut in a multiphase line. It is also the first subsea sensor capable of detecting early water onset in gas wells at the level of 0.25 bbl (0.029810 m3) of water per MMscf of gas. Additionally, the sensor is the first to enable measurement of relative concentrations of water and hydrate inhibitor.

Subsea flow measurement systems typically measure the commingled production from multiple wells. With minimal power and communication requirements, the Red Eye subsea water-cut meter enables operators to track the water production of each individual well. It also offers the unprecedented ability to track hydrate-inhibitor concentrations, to ensure that conditions are outside of the hydrate-formation range. It is rated at 15 kpsi (103 MPa) and suitable for installation at a depth of 10,000 ft (3,048 m).


The Weatherford Total Vibration Monitor with Angular Rate Gyro (TVM+) is a downhole logging-while-drilling (LWD) sensor that provides critical drilling dynamics data in real-time and recorded formats, and utilizes the industry’s first MEMS-based (micro-electromechanical system) angular-rate gyro. This device enables downhole-sensor measurements of angular rotation (RPM) in great detail, yielding new insights into drillstring dynamics and drilling management.

The TVM+ sensor has a 1,000-Hz sample rate and high bandwidth, which enable detection of damaging, high-frequency torsional dynamics that are typically undetectable by conventional, downhole, RPM measurement devices. The TVM+ sensor measures true angular rotation, even when subjected to severe downhole vibration and magnetic interference.

Smart downhole algorithms interpret angular motion and relay the mode and severity of rotational dynamics to the surface, enabling more targeted and effective mitigation strategies. Dynamic data can be transmitted to the surface, when the downhole system determines surface intervention is required. This significantly reduces the burden on the drilling team, and enables transmission of more petrophysics data to
the surface.


The Welltec Annular Barrier (WAB) was developed for well integrity applications and for zonal isolation within the reservoir section or between reservoir units. It is an expandable, metal annular barrier delivering a surface-controlled, rugged, reliable, large expansion annular barrier with high-pressure capability covering a wide range of hole sizes (full Delta P capability from in-gauge to washed-out holes)

The 9 5/8-in. WAB is qualified in accordance with the IS014310 V3 standard, and more recently qualified to the V0 leak criteria for application in cased hole environments. Most recently, the 9 5/8-in. WAB has been deployed by a major NOC as a stand-alone primary well barrier (no cement required), in compliance with NORSOK D-010 Rev 4 standard.

These qualifications permit the WAB to replace cement in eliminating a fundamental problem within the industry surface annular pressure (SAP). SAP is present on a large population of well stock. SAP may result in corrosion to the B-annulus, requires undesired governmental approval, and unnecessary rig and workover resources to repair.


Another Small Business Winner, WiSub, has developed the Maelstrom subsea connector system for high-speed, microwave data transfers. Maelstrom technology eliminates the pins from subsea wet-mate connectors through use of solid-state electronics. WiSub’s solution transfers data at much higher rates (over 100 Mbps) than other existing, non-contact, subsea communications methods. It performs data transfer through seawater and is unaffected by acoustic disturbance, low visibility, marine growth or other fouling. 

It works through the use of already developed, through-air, microwave communication technologies, providing increased mating cycles, reduced operational cost and increased reliability of subsea connections. Optional wireless power transfer also has been developed, applying unique improvements to known, inductive power coupling. This method of power transfer coexists well with the independent data transfer technology. wo-box_blue.gif 

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