Subsea Operating Envelopes in Ultra-Deepwater; Kaombo Development

Rolland, Julien (Total E&P) | Daures, Remi (Independent Contractor) | Bahabanian, Olivier (Total E&P)



In a deepwater environment, production fluid conditions have to satisfy complex requirements to flow smoothly to the production facilities on the FPSO. Flow assurance specialists work at turning these constraints into operating guidelines. This allows to close the gap between reservoir conditions, optimized design of the subsea network, topsides processing capabilities and operability requirements.

In the context of Kaombo, offshore Angola (Block 32), the wide range of reservoir conditions and fluids plus the extreme specificities of the subsea network called for an innovative approach with the following objectives:

Empower the operator with a visual decision tool for normal and unplanned operations of the subsea system

Promote collaboration between production, flow assurance & geoscience teams to reach an efficient decision, and minimize production shortfalls

Allow a design robust enough to tackle geosciences uncertainties

Optimize subsea design margins

This new approach, the "Visual Operating Envelopes", aims at explicitly and visually defining the operating limitations of the subsea production loops in a multi-parameters environment: A multi-dimensions map, function of the six main parameters (basically liquid and gas-lift flowrates, water and gas contents, reservoirs pressure and temperature) influencing multiphase flow into pipeline is hence created to evaluate the six main operating constraints (thermal and hydraulic turndown rates, wells eruptivity, maximum flowrates) for the full range of Kaombo fields.

This "operating envelope" tool can then define the minimum and maximum recommended flowrates for different operating conditions based on the following safe criteria:

Arrival temperature above the Wax Appearance Temperature

No hydrates risk during preservation

No severe slugging effect

Production below the flowline design flowrate

Velocity below the erosional velocity

In addition, the optimized gas lift flowrate is directly accessible, and the pressure available at every wellhead is compared to the backpressure associated to the operating point to assess the eruptivity of the wells.

By having previously defined an overall operating envelope, it is extremely easy to evaluate quickly the impact of new operating conditions (due to degraded operating conditions, changes in reservoir parameters, modifications in the drilling and wells startup sequence), which makes this new approach very powerful and versatile. It also contributes to the definition of the production forecast during operation phase integrating reservoir depletion and available gas lift rate.

Instead of relying on specific simulations for a limited number of cases, this innovative method defines a new approach where operating parameters are evaluated from the start, and boundaries are clearly identified, thus allowing to build a sound production profile for an extensive range of operating conditions. By doing so, system knowledge is improved, bottleneck conditions are anticipated, operators, flow assurance and geoscience teams are able to tightly collaborate and take smarter decisions together, resulting in more production. Eventually the method applied to a multiphase pipeline is actually transposable to every problem involving multi-dimensional inputs with combined constraints.