ABB cheers new era for offshore oil and gas following subsea power system test

ABB, a power and automation technology provider, has completed a 3,000-hour shallow water test on its subsea power distribution and conversion technology system for offshore oil and gas production.

Image source: ABB

ABB said on Wednesday that energy companies would be able to access a reliable supply of up to 100 megawatts of power, over distances up to 600 kilometers, and down to 3,000 meters water depth.

According to the company, this is all achievable with a single cable with little or no maintenance for up to 30 years, making oil and gas production feasible in far out and deep ocean environments.

The $100 million research, design, and development joint industry project (JIP) between ABB and Equinor with its partners Total and Chevron was initiated in 2013. The shallow water test was done at a sheltered harbor in Vaasa, Finland. As a result, the majority of the world’s offshore hydrocarbon resources are now in reach for electrification, ABB said.

Peter Terwiesch, president of ABB’s Industrial Automation business, said: “This milestone marks an outstanding achievement and is the culmination point of an inspirational technology development […]. It is the result of intensive collaboration by over 200 scientists and engineers from ABB, Equinor, Total, and Chevron in a multi-year, joint effort.”

By powering pumps and compressors on the seabed closer to the reservoir, ABB’s subsea power distribution and conversion technology can significantly reduce power consumption. There is potential for substantial energy savings, with reduced carbon emissions using power from shore.


Image source: ABB

ABB’s subsea power technology can connect to any power source, enabling future integrations with renewable energy, such as wind and hydropower.

The company added that, based on a specific field development case, the new technology could offer capex savings of more than $500 million, if eight consumers, such as pumps or compressors, are linked through a single cable over a distance of 200 kilometers from other infrastructure.

“Moving the entire oil and gas production facility to the seabed is no longer a dream. Remotely operated, increasingly autonomous, subsea facilities powered by lower-carbon energy are more likely to become a reality as we transition towards a new energy future,” added Terwiesch.

Previously, only the transmission cable and subsea step-down transformer were proven to operate underwater.


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