For the past decade, technology innovation and application have helped to significantly reduce the cost of exploring and producing oil and gas, proving the value technology can bring to the industry. Now while more discoveries are found in ultra deepwater, there is a push to lower CAPEX and OPEX while continuing to produce. This challenge, for both operators and suppliers, compels collaboration and cooperation for improving reliable and innovative technologies including:

  • Flow assurance technology

  • Subsea processing

  • Floating structures

  • Flowline and pipeline

  • Risers and umbilicals

This paper summarizes some of the results of several recent JIPs on ultra deepwater field development technologies. A review of emerging and existing technologies for deepwater development is presented, which would be of particular interest to technology development personnel and asset team personnel who are in the appraisal or concept selection stages of a project.


Driven by the depletion of continental shelf reserves and the high demand of world oil supply, offshore exploration and production is going from deepwater (3,000 to 6,000 ft) toward ultra deepwater (6,000 to 10,000 ft). There is a critical push to lower the expenditure to develop and produce a field, and increase the profitability.

The move into the ultra deepwater requires the continued extension of existing technologies. The development of new technologies may provide a step change in performance that will make the ultra deepwater plays economical viable. At times, minimal competitive advantaged of these essential required technologies reduces the incentive for operators to invest large sums into their development. The elevated expense to take these technologies through pilot tests and field trials to deployment ready state is cost prohibitive for many technology suppliers to carry alone. These factors make collaboration between operators and technology suppliers essential for ultra deepwater technologies.

This paper summarizes the recent advancements made in ultra deepwater field development technologies by several Joint-Industry-Projects (JIP). A review of the state-of-art in emerging and existing production technologies, technical challenges, and technology development opportunities are presented.

Qualitative and quantitative methodologies for assessing emerging technologies are discussed, of which are based on risk, technology, and commercial or cost, the three key issues of technology adaptation in offshore industry. The barriers and challenges of technology adaptation are also addressed.

This paper is of particular interest to technology development personnel and asset team personnel who are in the appraisal or concept selection stages of a project; however, additional information is provided which may also be valuable later in the project life.

Advanced Technologies for Ultra Deepwater Production

Figure 1 shows the prospective fields with commercially viable deepwater field developments, illustrating the worldwide growing trend in deepwater and ultra deepwater. Fig. 2 demonstrates the regional deepwater development and the technology trend related to the water depth and offset distance. The world records in water depth and offset are also shown in the figure.

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