Powering the seabed for a sustainable energy future

In an365体育投注 extreme underwater environment, a single cable, stretching up to 600km, will connect ABB’s world-first subsea power distribution an365体育投注d conversion system to the depths of the ocean365体育投注 – electrifying the seabed to help meet global energy deman365体育投注ds. With commercial viability confirmed, remotely operated, increasingly autonomous subsea facilities powered by lower carbon energy are more likely to become a reality.

In Vaasa, Finlan365体育投注d, a pivotal milestone has been achieved that will unlock new possibilities for the future of offshore oil an365体育投注d gas production. The functionality an365体育投注d thermal capability of ABB’s subsea power distribution an365体育投注d conversion technology has been validated in a 3000-hour shallow water test.

ABB proves world-first subsea power technology system, signaling new era for offshore oil an365体育投注d gas
ABB proves world-first subsea power technology system, signaling new era for offshore oil an365体育投注d gas

This is the first test of its kind to be completed worldwide – heralding an365体育投注 incredible achievement that has taken several years of collaborative effort from the brightest minds in the industry. Now, energy compan365体育投注ies will be able to access a reliable an365体育投注d consistent supply of up to 100 megawatts of power, over distan365体育投注ces up to 600 kilometers an365体育投注d down to 3,000 meters water depth, at pressures that could shatter a brick.

Benefits an365体育投注ticipated include improvements in reliability, safety, productivity, efficiency an365体育投注d performan365体育投注ce. Using a specific field development case as one example, the new technology could offer CAPEX savings of more than365体育投注 $500 million, if eight consumers, such as pumps or compressors, are linked through a single cable over a distan365体育投注ce of 200 km from other infrastructure.

“This milestone marks an365体育投注 outstan365体育投注ding achievement an365体育投注d is the culmination point of an365体育投注 inspirational technology development achieved through tremendous dedication, expertise an365体育投注d perseveran365体育投注ce,” said Dr. Peter Terwiesch, President of ABB’s Industrial Automation business. “It is the result of intensive collaboration by over 200 scientists an365体育投注d engineers from ABB, Equinor, Total an365体育投注d Chevron in a multi-year, joint effort.”

ABB’s subsea power distribution an365体育投注d conversion technology has been validated in a 3000-hour shallow water test. This is the first test of its kind to be completed worldwide.
ABB’s subsea power distribution an365体育投注d conversion technology has been validated in a 3000-hour shallow water test. This is the first test of its kind to be completed worldwide.

Making this ingenious engineering achievement all the more remarkable will be the elegan365体育投注t, sleek connection that will provide secure an365体育投注d reliable access to power in this extreme an365体育投注d remote environment a single cable. This cable will electrify the ocean365体育投注 space to help operators better meet energy needs for the future. It will require little or no maintenan365体育投注ce for up to 30 years, enabling oil an365体育投注d gas exploration an365体育投注d production feasible in new underwater frontiers, an365体育投注d bring the majority of the world’s offshore oil an365体育投注d gas resources in reach for electrification.

The chan365体育投注ging energy mix

Energy consumption is increasing at an365体育投注 unprecedented pace with growth in the global economy. Total global energy consumption in 2018, for example, was 13,82 billion tons of oil equivalent, with fossil fuels meeting nearly 70 percent of the deman365体育投注d. Even as the energy mix evolves, it is an365体育投注ticipated as much as 40 percent of global energy consumption will continue to be met by fossil fuels by 2050.

Offshore oil an365体育投注d gas operators have a clear vision for a safer, more energy efficient future. As available resources are used in mature basins, the focus of energy operators will shift to new an365体育投注d remote subsea frontiers. By powering pumps an365体育投注d compressors on the seabed, closer to the reservoir, ABB’s subsea power distribution an365体育投注d conversion technology can365体育投注 significan365体育投注tly reduce power consumption. There is potential for substan365体育投注tial energy savings, with reduced carbon emissions using power from shore.

Unlocking groundbreaking innovation: the JIP

The $100 million research, design an365体育投注d development Joint Industry Project (JIP) between ABB an365体育投注d Equinor with its partners Total an365体育投注d Chevron was first initiated in 2013. With a history of developing innovative solutions to technical challenges, ABB was an365体育投注 ideal choice for the project. In the years since, an365体育投注d in close collaboration with Equinor, Total an365体育投注d Chevron, ABB has been through the most extensive design, modelling, testing, verification an365体育投注d qualification programs in the history of its involvement in upstream oil an365体育投注d gas.

The JIP’s initial focus was to understan365体育投注d how electrical components such as capacitors an365体育投注d tran365体育投注sistors behave when subjected to pressures of up to 300 bar, which is about four times greater than365体育投注 what a nuclear submarine can365体育投注 survive. The normal mechan365体育投注ical an365体育投注d electrical properties of materials chan365体育投注ge when they are subjected to this degree of stress, an365体育投注d those chan365体育投注ges had to be understood at a basic physical an365体育投注d chemical level.

As part of the project, four specialized subsea labs were created by ABB. Each subsea lab was equipped with pressure vessels to simulate 3,000-meter water depth. A lab in Oslo, Norway tested electronic components an365体育投注d printed circuit boards. In Turgi, Switzerlan365体育投注d, subsea drive power electronics were tested, while power electronic components were tested at the research center in Daetwill, Switzerlan365体育投注d. Chemical compatibility was tested at a lab in Vester?s, Sweden. The researchers created a high-resolution digital facsimile of a subsea power grid an365体育投注d combined it with a control system that automates its operations, while detecting an365体育投注d diagnosing problems before they occur.

The technology

Previously, the tran365体育投注smission cable an365体育投注d subsea step-down tran365体育投注sformer were only proven to operate underwater. Today, ABB’s complete subsea power distribution an365体育投注d conversion system includes a step-down tran365体育投注sformer, medium voltage variable speed drives an365体育投注d switchgear, control an365体育投注d low voltage power distribution, an365体育投注d power electronics an365体育投注d control systems. ABB Ability? System 800xA has controlled the rigorous testing for the JIP.

“ABB is at the forefront of automation as we innovate an365体育投注d collaborate to deliver powerful solutions for tomorrow’s world,” said Kevin Kosisko, Man365体育投注aging Director, Energy Industries, ABB. “Oil an365体育投注d gas compan365体育投注ies now have access to technology that will completely tran365体育投注sform how they operate.”

The subsea facility of the future

Offshore hydrocarbon production facilities typically rely on power generated locally by gas turbines located topside either from fixed floating platforms or from ships. For subsea purposes, power is tran365体育投注sported to equipment via multiple cables located close by, which then power consumers, such as pumps an365体育投注d compressors located on the seabed. These are commonly known as long step-out solutions.

ABB’s subsea power technology can365体育投注 link to an365体育投注y power source, enabling future integrations with renewable energy. In a bold vision for a subsea facility of the future, control an365体育投注d reliability will be optimized with remote operations via onshore control rooms. Having fewer people offshore will reduce risks an365体育投注d enhan365体育投注ce overall safety. By installing electrification systems closer to the load, space an365体育投注d weight are reduced on topside facilities, response time to wellheads is lowered an365体育投注d power supply deman365体育投注ds are reduced. Additionally, with a subsea facility on the seabed, less maintenan365体育投注ce would be required.

ABB subsea an365体育投注d power distribution an365体育投注d substation
ABB subsea an365体育投注d power distribution an365体育投注d substation

“Moving the entire oil an365体育投注d 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 tran365体育投注sition towards a new energy future,” said Dr. Terwiesch.

To find out more about how ABB’s subsea technology can365体育投注 assist operators #dreamtheextreme for a more sustainable world, read our whitepaper at https://forms.abb.com/form-29720/subsea-whitepaper.


Contact us


Share this article

Facebook LinkedIn Twitter WhatsApp