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The Technology Gap in Produced Water Quality Measurement Subsea

Case Study

Client name: Confidential

Industry: Chemical and Process

Profile: TÜV SÜD National Engineering Laboratory co-delivered a two-year project to develop subsea sensor technologies. These sensors will be ultimately deployed to monitor the quality of produced water separated subsea and then either discharged or reinjected during offshore hydrocarbon production. The project, supported by seven oil and gas companies, was carried out under the auspices of the US government funded RPSEA (Research Partnership to Secure Energy for America) program.

Business challenge: Existing online technologies used to measure the quality of produced water, a by-product of oil and gas production, are no longer suitable for developing today’s deep-water fields through subsea separation and produced water discharge or re-injection. Traditional methods of using ROVs to extract water samples for post analysis topside cannot provide the real-time measurement needed to ensure the safe and economical disposal, or re-injection, of produced water subsea. This has become a major barrier to the wide deployment of subsea separation systems and therefore the development of deep water fields.

Our approach: TÜV SÜD National Engineering Laboratory worked closely with Clearview Subsea to develop an R&D proposal for the US RPSEA. Having secured the multi-million US dollar project, along with the support of seven major oil and gas companies, TÜV SÜD National Engineering Laboratory co-delivered the project in two phases. Phase one of the project focused on the development of technical requirements for subsea produced water discharge sensors and a technology gap analysis. Phase two saw the design and construction of four prototypes of subsea sensors and their subsequent bench-scale testing.

Our solution: The solution was to tap into the resources offered by the RPSEA program, and to work closely with the vendors and industry experts to develop the technologies and to close the technology gap. From the project, technical requirements for subsea produced water discharge sensors were established, promising technologies were identified. Four prototype sensors were subsequently developed and bench-scale tested. These sensors are now considered to have reached Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 3.

Business benefits: Establishing real-time, in-situ measurement is a vital enabler for subsea separation and produced water discharge or re-injection systems. It forms part of the subsea processing strategy for increased oil recovery and also for developing deep water fields. In the North Sea, Statoil (now Equinor) estimated that 26 million barrels of oil could be additionally recovered from the Tordis field following the installation of a subsea separation and produced water re-injection system. Real-time monitoring subsea greatly reduces the safety and environmental risks associated with produced water discharge. It also avoids having to deploy costly ROVs for taking samples subsea.

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Related services: National Measurement System | Marine | Chemical Testing

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