This paper discusses the requirements for a "next-generation" subsea control system and provides a description of the proposed setup/architecture. Requirements for "next-generation" subsea control focuses on requirements for "digitalization" and Industry 4.0 capabilities. Existing subsea control systems today are intended for and used to control hydraulic valves in subsea production setups. The proposed "next-generation" subsea control system is specified, designed and built for an all-electric process control setup, with requirements for extensive usage of digitalization toolboxes.
Primary requirements for the "next-generation" subsea control system would be deterministic behavior and latency in the millisecond range for the control of operations part/signals/objects, while at the same time generating large amounts of high quality and highly accurate time-stamped condition monitoring data to be used in the digitalization setup. The proposed concept integrates subsea control and historian systems directly into the existing topsides control and historian systems. Implementation of an anti-surge control system will be used as an example to illustrate the concept for control of operations, and the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and historical stored data would be used as examples for topside digitalization techniques used on subsea installed equipment.
Removing boundaries between topsides and subsea automation as suggested in this paper provides options to use already available toolboxes for digitalization of topsides assets on similar subsea components. The proposed open architecture control system would also easily interface directly to any cloud-based solution with standard interfaces or well-defined application program interfaces (APIs).
Economic benefits of implementing an open-architecture control system would include CAPEX and OPEX reductions, while at the same time creating a "future-proof" system that allows for the addition of digitalization options. Subsea data would be delivered and stored with higher quality, providing operators with the option to look retrospectively and evaluate historian data based on knowledge to be obtained in the future.
Moreover, having one integrated control system provides better protection against cyberthreats, as it eliminates the requirement for several systems, which need to be updated and maintained during the lifetime of the installation.
Various predictions and thoughts about the future of subsea controls beyond the proposed "next-generation" subsea control system will also be included in this paper.