There has been a strong shift in the oil and gas industry toward the outsourcing of non-core technology. This trend leads to the desire (necessity) to let vendors, service suppliers and contractors evolve the new technology that will improve the commercial viability of deepwater developments. There is a concern that new technology will not evolve at a fast enough pace or in the appropriate business form to allow deepwater opportunities to commercially compete with other global business opportunities. Alternatively, oil / gas companies can act as catalysts to accelerate progression of new technology in a more uniform, focused manner through industry cooperative (cost sharing) formats. Hence the emergence of industry programs such as DeepStar, GPRI (Global Production Research Institute), OTRC (Offshore Technology Research Center), HARC (Houston Advanced Research Center) to name but a few. Much of the technology advancement focus of today has been on improving the performance of components or services. Component / service optimization is all a vendor / contractor can do on their own. Unfortunately industry finds its implementing extremely challenging projects in the deepwater arena. These deepwater challenges have many dimensions, among them are political, regulatory, social, market, commercial, geographic and technical issues, all of which have significant influence regarding the preferred development approach or concept. DeepStar is attempting to shift its focus to look at systems on a global basis, and how various systems provide competing alternatives to develop deepwater opportunities. A "systems engineering" approach is anticipated to provide a "common language" for industry to identify and assess the relative value or impact of various technology efforts, either in addressing gaps or realizing commercial improvement opportunities.


DeepStar's systems engineering program has been an intensive effort for the past year to identify and prioritize new technology opportunities deemed valuable for DeepStar to address. This effort has resulted in establishment of a prioritized technology portfolio relative to the five deepwater concepts that were evaluated. Various technology issues and corresponding value assessments have been the subject of a number of other OTC papers. The focus of this paper, however, is not to decipher the value of a specific technology, but rather to remark on the value of the systems engineering process itself.

The oil industry generally does not do a very good job in identifying and deeply understanding its problems, rather it quickly turns to potential solutions that are often extensions of historical approaches that once proved successful. One key toward significantly improving the way industry evolves new technology is finding an appropriate way to communicate across an entire industry. New communication models are available that might help span this communication gap. An attempt has been made to project potential benefits if systems engineering were more widely adopted as a preferred communication tool across industry.

Industry Cooperation Needed

Industry cooperation is needed to find cost effective solutions to deepwater development. DeepStar has adopted the TEAM (Together Everyone Achieves More) approach to technology development.

This content is only available via PDF.
You can access this article if you purchase or spend a download.