Introducing Subsea Connect: The Future of Subsea is Here

Introducing Subsea Connect: The Future of Subsea is Here

With an eye on the future of subsea, Baker Hughes, a GE company (BHGE) introduced on June 26 in Cairo its vision for the future of subsea: “Subsea Connect,” a new way of doing business focused on delivering lower costs and increasing productivity with a simple approach to subsea developments than ever before.

A cornerstone of Subsea Connect is the new Aptara™ Totex-lite subsea system. This new suite of innovative subsea technologies was introduced to the Egyptian market at an event that gathered a group of industry leaders and company representatives at the JW Marriott Hotel in New Cairo. This innovative system features a range of lightweight, modular technology solutions re-engineered to cut the total cost of ownership in half and be more responsive to changes over the life of the field.

“Egypt always amazes me in terms of the installed technologies in subsea and now the subsea future in Egypt will be through Subsea Connect. It brings a different level of collaboration and ultimately brings innovative products and services that are specifically designed to have us work with our partners through the life of the field,” noted Neil Saunders, President and CEO, Oilfield Equipment at BHGE.

The event began with the idea of the 50/50/50 strategy. The strategy is the main focus of BHGE “to reduce operational cost by 50%, improve productivity by 50%, and boost industrial yield by 50%,” Ahmed Mousbah, Vice President, Oilfield Equipment, MENAT, BHGE explained.

Success Story in Deepwater Operations

One of the first sessions during the event was a success story shared by Eng. Sabry El Sharkawy, Chairman of Rashid Oil Company (Rashpetco), on deepwater operations. He explained the beginnings of the Burullus Gas Company and then highlighted that the company has succeed in drilling 72 wells to date and is targeting to reach 78 wells by 2020.

Burullus is exerting its efforts to achieve success through accomplishing its Goal Zero, which means reaching injury-free projects with everyone going home safely with no compromises for safety. In addition, it is working on the continuity of West Delta Deep Marine (WDDM) operations with minimum production loss and no damage to existing facilities. The company is also delivering first gas and sustainable production on budget with maximum synergies and flexibility to support an early first gas. Following his presentation, El Sharkawy received a token of appreciation from Saunders.

Subsea Connect             

“Subsea Connect is a new way of doing business with an idea that focuses not only on the equipment but also on the whole project,” Mousbah said, illustrating that this vision can influence more than 80% of traditional subsea development costs and value drivers while reducing the economic development point of unsanctioned projects by up to 30%, resulting in the potential to unlock around 16 billion barrels of reserves.

“Currently, these assets remain unlocked because of the high cost and risks associated. Therefore, we engage with our customers from early on in the process to share that risk and be able to define their priorities to deliver in the best possible way,” he added, pointing out that the used technology is fit-for-purpose, which means that if the project requires specific equipment, then it can be delivered as needed.

Aptara™ TOTEX-lite Subsea System

The Aptara™ subsea system can “deliver up to 50% lower total cost of ownership. Moreover, it is more simple and easier for installation, operation, and maintenance,” Mousbah added.

“Aptara represents the next generation of subsea technology, which is lighter and compact, easier to configure, has a reliable execution and on-time delivery, and cost-effective solution,” said John Kerr, Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, Oilfield Equipment at BHGE said.

For instance, the Aptara™ SFX wellhead solution enables a safe and low-risk production enhancement through well intervention and it has a lead time of around six months which represents eight months faster than conventional wellheads, Kerr further noted.

Concerning the heart of the Aptara subsea system, which is the Aptara™ Lightweight Compact tree, “we managed to cut its weight by 50%. For instance, if we have a normal complicated tree that weighs around 80 tons, we can deliver the same capability with only 40 tons, allowing us to use lighter equipment and reduce the cost.” Mousbah explained.

The new system brings the best of both worlds, with modern technology as well as simplicity, which helps avoid high training costs. Subsea Connect consists of four pillars: Project connect; Reservoir to topsides technology solutions; Flexible partnerships and commercial models; Digital enablement.

“If you think about what BHGE has in its portfolio, we can bring products and services from basically the downhole through the mid-line to the production equipment and then back to the host. So, with that knowledge and that ability to execute projects very early through the life of the field, we believe that we can change the economics of the projects, make it viable and unlock value,” Saunders added.

Aptara™ SFX Wellhead Solution

After a short break, BHGE represented the building blocks of the Aptara™ subsea system through a number of presentations each focused on a specific component.

Walid Gaber, Subsea Production Systems & Services Director MENAT, Oilfield Equipment at BHGE presented the Aptara™ SFX wellhead solution. Introducing the latest generation of subsea wellheads, which delivers up to 16 times fatigue resistance improvement over existing systems with four times the fracture-toughness performance. Gaber explained how the system helps face fatigue concerns and extend the lifetime of wellheads, by offering a standardized process that is simpler and faster.

The outcome of this life-of-field approach translates into tangible benefits, enabling production enhancement through well intervention activities even in late life and ensuring longevity of field operations, all with a lower risk profile than traditional wellhead systems.

Aptara™ Lightweight Compact Tree

Moving on to the Aptara™ lightweight compact tree and the next generation of subsea control systems, Mike Wenham, Trees Engineering Manager, Oilfield Equipment at BHGE explained the innovative tree design approach with a lighter and smaller footprint.

The compact tree provides independently retrievable modules, and simplified tooling, as evident by the use of pre-engineered block mounted valves and bolted connections on manifolds, as well as smaller installation vessels and Mudmat foundation instead of Suction Anchor.

Moreover, the modular tree cap stands out as a unique feature in the Aptara™ lightweight compact tree which offers a typical lead time of around 10 months. In addition, this innovative tree design provides smart, real-time monitoring, utilizing SemStar5 technology. Explaining the benefits of the 10K (10,000 psi XVT) Aptara™ system, Wenham pointed to the reduced cost and weight, as well as the flexible installation and the reduction in other subsea infrastructure, and the high technology readiness level (TRL).

Aptara™ Modular Compact Manifold and Subsea Connections

Afterwards, Fredrick Witting, Application Engineering Manager, Oilfield Equipment, BHGE, presented the Aptara™ modular compact manifold and subsea connections, and explained how manifold branch piping and isolation valves are combined, standardized, and packaged into a common standard branch block assembly, which is tested prior to shipment and delivery to the fabrication site.

Manifolds help shorten assembly time and increase efficiency as it uses some of the same components of the tree, while diamond blocks provide an optimal design for single and dual header manifolds. Furthermore, the net reduction in the size and weight of pressure modules reduces structure and foundation requirements, as well as spool fabrication and welding, with an overall simpler assembly process that helps cut the cost of hardware and installation.

The valves and actuators in the modular compact manifold are built on the famous VG300 valve, which has a record that exceeds 30 years of field history, providing enhanced steam sealing design, polymeric options, and selected endurance testing to 12,000 cycles. Electric actuation and high pressure are two main future developments benefiting manifolds, Witting noted.

Witting then went on to review the Aptara™ HCCS-L universal connection system, which is similar to the system used by BHGE at the Zohr natural gas field but at a different scale. The Aptara™ HCCS-L helps reduce weight and cost by 10% to 15%, reduce connection cost installation time by 30% to 50% each.

Aptara™ Advanced Flexible Pipes

Moving forward, Bob Morgan, BHGE Flexible Pipe Systems Leader, MENAT & India Regions, presented Aptara™ Advanced Flexible pipes, which are used as transfer lines, jumpers, risers, and flowlines, for both static and dynamic applications. As for the flexible pipe construction, Bob Morgan focused on the pressure armor that uses carbon fiber tape technology, replacing the existing metallic pressure armor layer.

Meanwhile, the main features of the BHGE composite flexible riser systems, which is 30% lighter, allows 20% savings on total installed cost, and can operate in deeper waters and at higher pressures.

Other technologies presented were, new mid and high temperature polymers in Flex90™ and Flex130™, integrity management systems, SPIRE, Fiber Optic temperature sensing and MAPS.

Rising Technologies

Discussing the availability-based approach and obsolescence management, Ravi Addala, Technical Sales Manager SPS & D, India, explained the use of the SemStar5 system. Finally, Fredrick Witting, Application Engineering Manager, Oilfield Equipment, BHGE, summed up the vision for the field of the future. He discussed the all-electric system and remote operations, explaining that factors such as increased operations in deep water and long tie-backs are driving the move towards all-electric, with unmanned platforms, especially in sensitive areas, with cost efficiency, high reliability and availability.

There are several phases of this transformation, starting with targeted electric, to partial electric, all-electric and finally the umbilical-less, where subsea production is controlled and operated by all-electric controls. Witting then revealed that the all-electric subsea production system will be ready for commercial use by 2021.

Event Magnitude

Egypt Oil & Gas then spoke to Hussam Abu Seif, the General Manager for Egypt & Sudan at BHGE on the sidelines of the event. Abu Seif said that the event witnesses the importance of the Egyptian market to BHGE, noting that the company is working in line with the Modernization Project efforts, under the patronage of H.E Eng. Tarek El Molla, the Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources.

“To have the President and CEO of Oilfield Equipment at BHGE today in Egypt shows the importance of Egypt as it transforms into a regional energy hub,” Abu Seif explained. This is the first time that Subsea Connect, specifically Aptara™ Totex-lite subsea system is introduced by BHGE to the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region as part of the technology’s global launch,” he noted.

The focus remains on efficiency, especially in deepwater operations, which are becoming of growing importance for Egypt as it becomes the East Mediterranean regional hub for natural gas.

The General Manager believes that for Egypt to achieve this vision, there are two factors that are both at the cornerstone of his company’s strategy, to bring modern technology to the market, and to invest in capacity building and the workforce skills.

“Zohr serves as a prime example of our cooperation with national Egyptian companies, bringing state of the art solutions and technologies to keep up with the global developments and leveraging the level of expertise and experience in the Egyptian petroleum sector at large,” Abu Seif further concluded.


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