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Powering the oil and gas sector of the future

: The economics of offshore oil and gas operations have changed and the industry is continuing to adjust to lower for longer oil price environment. But as prices climb back up, the industry will not simply return to the way things were. Operators will not just abandon efficiency measures adopted to maintain viable margins.

Bringing fields online in remote, deep-water areas will become an increasingly important factor in future oil and gas operations. As always, the challenge is to bring these sites online in as safe, efficient and cost-effective a manner as possible.

To make this a reality, all-subsea field developments are going to become not just an ideal scenario, but a fundamental necessity. And the rule of thumb normally goes; the more remote a field, the greater the complexity involved. In the case of all-subsea developments, this requires advanced cabling and umbilical design to accommodate the need for higher-power equipment to pump fluids and deliver energy across longer distances.

Over the last 25 years the industry has seen huge advances in cabling technologies. JDR’s most recent innovation, the 72.5kV ‘wet-design’ cable, does this and more. Eliminating the need for a metallic radial moisture barrier used in conventional high voltage subsea cables, it reduces the product load-out weight as well as the hang-off tension for deeper-water applications. For deep and ultra-deepwater, the reduction in submerged weight of these types of advanced power cables and umbilicals benefits many dynamic configurations. By reducing load-out weight operators can access a wider range of installation vessels, and the accessories needed to support the cable or umbilical subsea configuration can be simplified and reduced.

Sounds good, doesn’t it? And what’s more, this technology can deliver double the amount of power than the 36kV cable using the same amount of conductor material. However, the cable cores are not double the size or weight.

As well as higher-power and deeper-water characteristics, the cables will be able to run further from shore to offshore substations. Power can then be distributed to different consumers with various voltage levels, different sizes and diverse locations. This overcomes the challenge to bring remote platforms online – as until recently, the only real option has been to install a new platform as an additional ‘node’ in the cabling network.

However, cabling and umbilical design advances mean operators can make greater use of tiebacks that employ existing platforms to connect subsea infrastructure. And as new fields are developed in deeper, more remote locations, the need for fixed platforms will reduce –   saving capital expenditure over adding new platforms or floating vessel infrastructure.

As more remote fields are progressed, advanced cables and umbilicals will be a key enabler to provide increasing amounts of power and importantly control of that power and the associated subsea equipment essential to all-subsea field developments. The advanced cable and umbilical products being introduced now will play a vital role in connecting the offshore energy infrastructure of the future.