Subsea Production Systems and the UMC Experience
- M.M. Brady (Esso EP U.K. Ltd.) | D. Henery (Shell U.K. E&P Ltd.)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- July 1983
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 1,231 - 1,238
- 1983. Society of Petroleum Engineers
- 4.5.7 Controls and Umbilicals, 4.2.4 Risers, 4.5 Offshore Facilities and Subsea Systems, 5.1.2 Faults and Fracture Characterisation, 4.1.5 Processing Equipment, 4.2.3 Materials and Corrosion, 4.5.10 Remotely Operated Vehicles, 1.6 Drilling Operations, 4.2 Pipelines, Flowlines and Risers, 1.10.1 Drill string components and drilling tools (tubulars, jars, subs, stabilisers, reamers, etc), 2 Well Completion
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Distinguished Author Series articles are general, descriptiverepresentations that summarize the state of the art in an area of technology bydescribing recent developments for readers who are not specialists in thetopics discussed. Written by individuals recognized as experts in the area,these articles provide key references to more definitive work and presentspecific details only to illustrate the technology. Purpose: to informthe general readership of recent advances in various areas of petroleumengineering.
The Underwater Manifold Center (UMC) project for the Central Connorant fieldis the most advanced system of its kind and is unequalled in size, versatility,and sophistication (Fig. 1). It incorporates a long list of pioneeringtechnological features including reconnectable power couplers, satellite andtemplate wells, remote Christmas tree and pipeline connections, long-distancechemical injection and TFL well-servicing capability, insulated pipelines, anda diverless maintenance system that uses a robot-like remote maintenancevehicle (RMV).
In many respects the UMC is a symbol of recent advances in subsea productionsystems. Components and concepts developed for it will set a standard for andbe applied to other subsea systems, and the UMC's performance, accordingly,will be watched closely by the industry, especially over the next few years.From a descriptive and technical point of view, ample information on the UMChas been published recently.1-5
Beyond the technical realm, the UMC development has raised some broaderstrategic and economic issues of interest to those concerned with thedevelopment of subsea production systems in general. This article concentrateson a few of these issues to provide information and guidance based on the UMCproject experiences:
- Why were subsea techniques used to develop the Central Connorantfield?
- How much did the UMC cost, and how can costs be reduced in the future?
- What was the single biggest concern of the project?
- What are the benefits and costs of satellite wells connected to theUMC?
- In what areas could the next UMC be improved?
- What key factors contributed to the project's success?
Selecting the UMC for Central Cormorant
There is no single answer or formula for selecting a development plan for anoffshore reservoir because of the variety of geological conditions andreservoir characteristics that can be encountered and the many variablesinvolved. Indeed, environmental and safety considerations and the magnitude ofinvestment required demand careful scrutiny of every option. It is not unusualfor a development plan to take several years or more to be worked out in detailand approved.
The most that can be said in general is that certain circumstances favor,but do not dictate, certain options. Subsea production systems have beenfavored mainly for two areas of application: marginal fields and deep water.For the purpose of this discussion, marginal fields are, for example, thoseshallow-water fields (usually odd-shaped and thin) for which conventionalmethods - i.e., platforms - are unsuitable and/or lead to uneconomical orbarely economical results. This application accounts for almost all presentsubsea systems, usually comprising one or more subsea Christmas-tree wellsproducing to a platform. Currently there are more than 190 subsea wells in 70different fields, and their use is growing yearly.
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