Analysis has shown that over the last decade the price of Subsea equipment/subsea developments may have multiplied by a factor of >3. It has been claimed that a significant contributor to thisincrease has been the Operators tendency to prefer bespoke designs, customized totheir internal technical requirements as the basis for new developments. Subsea suppliers have argued that cost reduction and schedule advantage would result if Operators were to focus more on functional needs, using repeat designsbased onless prescriptive technical requirements when developing assets.
In 2012 TOTAL initiated work to increase efficiencies and reduce cost in subsea developments. Following the oil price collaps in 2014 the need to accelerate this work and to find even larger efficiency gains became evident. In collaboration with the industry, options were discussed and actions agreed. For subsea the most visible global industrial technical alignment action was International Organization of Oil and Gas Producers – IOGP JIP 33 (initiated by World Economic Forum, WEF) – which resulted in the issue at the end of 2016 of the specification IOGP S561 -Supplementary Requirements to API Spec 17D for Subsea Trees. Thereare several alternative understandings of what constitutes Standardizationand hence alignment on actions to achive this may also vary signficiantly. One optionfor standardization is to accept what may be called "Supplier Led solutions", i.e. to accept existing supplier solutions/components withoutadditional company specific requirements, modifications or adaptations. There are several challenges with this approach as it potentially requires compromises on existing Company technical specifications, on the implementation of lessons learned, on established execution methods and processes etc.
In 2015 TOTAL approached the subsea suppliers (system integrators) to identifyany already available supplier’s standards. Activities werethen initiated to compare these supplier standards with our internal standards/requirements. The objective was not necessarily to change the equipment proposed but rather to identify/understand any risks associated with the use of these supplier led solutions.
This work took > 1 year and was near completion whenthe Absheron Early Production System (EPS) project opportunity was identified. Due to the work already completed, TOTAL was able to propose a solution to the Absheron EPS project meetingthe challenging rig schedule.
Supplier led solutions, whilst a good option for certain developments, may not be the best solution for all developments. The experience with the Absheron EPS is a confirmation that TOTAL has the ability to adapt to the changing industry landscape and apply the highest value, fit-for-purpose solution to new subsea developments.