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Operators, as well as engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) companies facing large capital expenditure projects, such as new-build and brownfield production and process installations, are creating new designs and practices to accommodate the complexity of changing demands and environments.
Global demand for natural gas continues to grow because it is favored as an environmentally attractive fuel relative to other hydrocarbon fuels. By 2035, the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) projects global natural gas consumption will have increased from approximately 113.1 Tcf in 2010 to 168.7 Tcf (Fig. 1).
As operators produce more opportunity crude oils, oils that provide a higher refining margin relative to other crudes, dehydration of the oil becomes more difficult. Physical properties of the crude oil, such as API gravity, oil viscosity, and water density, determine the challenges and drive the selection of technologies to be used for effective dehydration.
Asset integrity management encompasses the design, operation, and maintenance of an asset to preserve its integrity at an acceptable level of risk throughout its operating life. Protection of health, safety, and the environment is a critical component of the processes and procedures used to monitor the conditions of offshore surface and subsea facilities and structures.
One of the more challenging flow assurance problems in deepwater subsea gas pipelines and equipment is the formation of natural gas hydrates. Gas hydrates form under conditions of low temperatures and high pressures, such as those found in deep water, when ice-like crystalline structures of water form "cages" around low molecular weight gases, especially methane. Methane is the most common trapped gas in hydrates, comprising 99% of the trapped gas. Carbon dioxide, propane, and ethane can also form hydrates.
As the development of US shale plays expands to undeveloped or underdeveloped areas, the environmental issues related to surface facilities move to front and center. Operators, regulators, politicians, and the general public have become more aware of and concerned about environmental effects than in earlier times when shale plays were in the nascent stages of discovery, exploration, and production.
After approximately 25 years of development, subsea gas compression technology has advanced to a readiness level worthy of full implementation in the North Sea. Statoil, an early driver of the technology, in March received approval from the Norwegian Parliament for the development of subsea gas compression in the Asgard field. In May, Statoil and partner Petoro announced their decision to invest in subsea wet gas compression on the Gullfaks South Brent reservoir. Options for increasing recovery from offshore reservoirs have taken a technological leap, marking a milestone in the oil and gas industry.
Driven partly by the US Department of the Interior’s (DOI) Notice to Lessees and Operators (NTL) 2010-G05 for decommissioning of idle wells and structures on active leases in the Gulf of Mexico’s (GOM) Outer Continental Shelf (OCS), decommissioning activities are outpacing historical levels (Fig. 1 and Table 1). The NTL, also known as the Idle Iron NTL, became effective in October 2010 and applies to the plugging of wells and decommissioning of offshore infrastructure, which includes fixed platforms, pipelines, wells, caissons, and well protectors.
The ultimate success of a deepwater project depends on phases from early concept selection, design, construction, commissioning, and startup to operation. Commissioning begins when construction is completed. The constructed facilities and processes are tested, certified, and verified as ready for the introduction of hydrocarbons for fuel gas, final dynamical commissioning, and startup. The startup phase, defined as the period when hydrocarbons are produced for the first time, is a critical period bridging the transfer of care, custody, and control of the facilities from commissioning to operations. It is the first time that all processes and equipment work together as a system.