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Subsea Equipment & Tools

Part of the Oil & Gas Subsea Technology Series

Subsea Equipment & Tools


Designed, Produced and Published by OPITO Ltd.
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OPITO 2014
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With thanks to

and to Hugh Grant for his subsea expertise


Subsea Equipment & Tools

Section 1. Topside Facilities For Different Water Depths......................................... 7

Section 2. Oil Industry Engineering Standards....................................................... 13
Section 3. Wellhead & Hanger System.................................................................. 16
Section 4. Workover Systems................................................................................ 20
Section 5. Conventional Xmas Tree....................................................................... 25
Section 6. Spool or Horizontal Xmas Tree............................................................. 33
Section 7. Well Intervention System....................................................................... 36
Section 8. Protective Structures............................................................................. 39
Section 9. Subsea Field Layout.............................................................................. 42
Section10. Case Study........................................................................................... 47
Check yourself answers......................................................................................... 51

Visual Cues

Training targets
for you to
achieve by the
end of the Unit

Check yourself
answers to
let you see if
you have been
thinking along
the right lines

Test yourself
questions to see
how much you

Summaries for
you to recap on
the major steps
in your progress

Training Targets
When you have completed this Unit you will be able to:
List the reasons for drilling subsea wells
Describe a Surface and Deepwater platform
Describe both types of subsea Xmas trees
List the tree Safety and Protective structures
List places that need extra vigilance for personal safety
Describe the items in the oil flow that can cause production problems

Tick the box when you have met each target



Why do we need subsea wells?

A surface Production Platform is simpler and
less expensive to install and it will do the drilling,
producing, processing and exporting from there.
Unfortunately the demand for oil and gas cannot
be satisfied from the volume produced by the
land or shallow water reservoirs therefore
exploration has to look further afield.
By following the places where sands have been
washed from rivers out into the oceans gradually
the water depths will increase but that is where
new discoveries will be made.
This module will take you through the different
stages of technology and how subsea wells are
taken to the production condition after the drilling
operations are completed.
Various options are available firstly that subsea
Xmas trees will produce up to a Surface Platform
or secondly a deepwater structure will be used or
the entire system will be located on the seabed.
The first option is only possible if there is a
conveniently available Platform, then the others
can be located in any suitable area within the
constraints of the water depth. This is currently
at 3,000 meters.
Similar Xmas trees can be used at any depth
but will need to be adjusted for water depth
(pressure) and have added aids to help with the

The seabed installation can function in very

remote places and can be controlled from a
shore terminal as far as 200 kilometres away.
All that is necessary are a Manifold to collect
production from all the subsea Xmas trees and
Flowline to the shore terminal.
Two types of Xmas tree are in common use, a
conventional vertical bore tree and a Spool or
horizontal bore tree. Both are equally up to the
job but some well conditions may favour one
over the other.
In certain areas of the world well conditions will
create a need for a technical development.
These can be fluid, wax, gas Hydrogen Sulphide/
Carbon Dioxide or water related from within the
well or they can be problems coming from frozen
gas leaking from the immediate seabed around
the Xmas tree.
Many countries have medium sized reservoirs
that will only produce for 10 -12 years. Systems
to economically produce these are readily
Much of this equipment can be recovered,
reconditioned and used on another project of a
similar size.
When you have completed this module you will
have a good grasp of how a subsea system is
installed and what is involved.

Section 1 - Topside Facilities

For Different Water Depths
Topside facilities suitable for different
water depths and weather conditions.
Types of Xmas Tree...
The Fixed platform, is a rigid structure, using land
well technology and is installed on the ocean floor
in up to 500m of water. It becomes the base for
directionally drilling a number of development wells,
and ultimately the base for the produced oil or gas
to flow or be pumped from, to an offshore producing
terminal or a shore-based production facility.

Tension Leg Platform / Deep Draft Caisson Vessel

(TLP / DDCV) or a combination of any of these
three. Each method brings its own advantages and
disadvantages and will be discussed later.

Figure 1... Fixed Platform

Depending on the extent of the discovered field, it

may take a number of these fixed platforms to fully
develop it.
The number of wells drilled and completed from any
one fixed platform varies considerably.
Fixed platforms often become the control point for
subsea developments and provide the Xmas tree
control, processing and export facilities.
Field developments have moved to greater water
depths where fixed platforms cannot be used.
These developments can use Subsea trees,
Floating production facilities or Dry Completion Units

Figure 2... Jacket Platform

Jacket Type Platform...

Jacket type platform structures have been the most
proven and safe way of developing offshore fields,
but economics and increasing water depths are
directing thoughts to other alternatives. Concrete
structures were developed as an accepted means
of developing a field, particularly in the Norwegian
sector of the North Sea. These concrete structures
also house storage tanks for the produced oil. This
helps to solve the problem of long subsea pipelines
necessary to get the oil to a shore based production
and processing facility.

Historically, offshore production technology had

adhered to the platform method of development,
using the cluster well approach, because of the
tried and true nature of the equipment used for
drilling and production. The economics of large
reserve exploitation to offset high capital cost has
been preferred to the essentially new technology
of equivalent techniques. Fixed Platforms are
economically feasible for installations in water
depths up to about 500m.

Figure 4... Spar Platform

Figure 3... Tension Leg Platform

Tension Leg Platforms (TLPs) offer another
alternative to conventional platforms for the
development of deep water fields. Because of the
success attained by with the worlds first TLP, more
operators have made use of these designs. In this
concept, a platform closely resembling a semisubmersible is floated out to location and tethered
to the ocean floor over a multi-well template and
each corner is tethered by single or multiple
tendons attached to large anchoring pads on the
ocean floor.

complete success and with the small field depleted

the facilities have now been removed.
A Spar or DDCV (Deep Draft Caisson Vessel) is
a deep water floating drilling and production
system. Rather than using steel tendons to fix
the structure over subsea wellheads the Spar is
moored on site
in the same manner of a conventional floating
drilling rig.
The structure (approximately 110 / 33m diameter
x 750 / 235m) resembles a long cylindrical steel
column with the drilling and production equipment
mounted on top and operate in water depths to
3000 meters and beyond.

The object of positively tethering the floating

platform in this manner is to eliminate the vertical
motion of the platform and also to provide a large
degree of resistance of lateral motion. This means
that a series of wells can be drilled and completed
as if from a fixed platform.

The steel column is ballasted into the water several

hundred feet which make it less vulnerable to the
effects of sea conditions. A square moon pool
through the centre of the structure provides the
access to the subsea wellheads and subsequently
installed production risers. These are drilled through
a template so as to accurately space out the wells
to ensure there is space for drilling equipment
especially the blowout preventer to be fitted.

The design of these tension leg platforms is such

that the lateral movement is reduced to a minimum
and the TLP can be used in water depths of between
The illustration (Figure 3) shows the large topsides
the tendons running down to the seabed anchors,
the template with the production risers and the
export flow lines.

Production processing and controls are situated

in the control room at the surface with two way
communication provided by an umbilical made up
of hydraulic hoses, power and telephone lines.

The UK North Sea was chosen for the first of these

installations because of the harsh environment but
with water that was not too deep. The trial was a

Compliant Towers

Figure 5... Compliant Tower

A third method of deep water field development is the

Compliant Tower. The Compliant Tower resembles a
conventional platform in that it is set and supported
at the ocean floor and is used in depths ranging from
450-900 meters.
The wide base design of a conventional platform
which gives it its stability is not used. The support
structure of a Compliant Tower remains a consistent
perimeter dimension its entire length. The compliant
tower is less expensive than a conventional platform
simply because less material and effort is used in the
Current and tide flows through the structure thereby
minimizing vortex shedding. As offshore production
moves into deeper water, the reliance on remotely
controlled vehicles (ROV) becomes greater and the
suppliers of these vehicles have responded.
ROVs are available with multiple colour cameras,
tools and manipulator arms that open and close
valves, cut cables, make up cables, rotate handles
and a do a complete range of functions and have
allowed new technology to move forward.

Subsea Production Systems

Subsea Completions

Subsea production systems (using a subsea

tree installed on a subsea wellhead drilled from a
floating drilling vessel) gained initial acceptance as
adjuncts to platform production operations, enabling
exploitation of areas at the periphery of a field out of
reach of the deviated wells. Submerged Production
System (SPS) was an early experimental alternative
to the fixed platform.

Subsea completion is a broad subject that includes

subsea production systems and subsea wells tied
back to surface facilities.
Platform Tiebacks address the adaptation of subsea
wellheads (drilled by a semi-submersible drilling rig)
for conventional or production platform completion
at the surface. This practice is desirable because
of time savings made possible by pre-drilling wells
while the fixed platform is being built.

A three well prototype was built and tested in a large

shallow tank. The system was covered by only one
meter of water so as to accurately assess the total
underwater situation.

All subsea completions are arranged to have at

least two and in cases of very high pressure three
barriers in place between the reservoir and the
environment. The Subsea Xmas Tree is a very
strong component that incorporates high integrity
valves and other devices configured to comply with
Oilfield, Safety and Environmental standards.

The design of the SPS system was a large

tubular support structure or template that was preassembled on land and taken to its offshore location
on a supply boat or on the deck of the drilling rig
that would install it. The support structure was then
placed on the sea floor and the wells drilled through
it putting in place a Subsea Wellheads System that
will support the lengths of steel casing used to line
the well. As the well is drilled these are cemented
in place to give support and also seal off the space
between the casing and the drilled hole. This work
is done from a floating drilling vessel when the water
depth is greater than 350 meters.

The purpose of any Xmas Tree is to give safe

control of fluids and gas from the well and provide
two barriers between the reservoir and the ocean
with the object of a no pollution scenario during
production operations.
The basic control valve components of a Xmas Tree
are configured to achieve this. The control valves
are referred to (from bottom to top) as Lower Master
Valve, Upper Master Valve, and Crown Valve and
off to the side is the Wing Valve. The two tree
formats shown below have different advantages
and disadvantages.

The SPS was part of the worlds original seabed

development and even in these early years (1960)
was pioneering many new ideas that are common
place today.

All the systems have a Tubing Hanger that supports

and seals the production tubing that will convey all
the production from the well to the sea floor Xmas

The tubing hanger is equipped with a wireline plug

profile above the side outlet. Once in place, this
plug serves the same purpose as the swab valve in
a conventional tree.

The Conventional Tree system has the tubing

hanger installed in the wellhead below the Xmas
Tree prior to the Xmas tree being installed. The
BOP is removed and the Xmas Tree installed after
the tubing hanger has been locked in place and
tested as part of the completion installation. Later,
intervention well work such as slickline, e-line
or coiled tubing operations can be carried out by
removing the tree cap and connecting to the Xmas
Tree with either a Lower Riser Package (LRP) or
Subsea Intervention Lubricator (SIL).

There are no vertical bore valves on a horizontal

tree compared to 3 vertical bore valves on the
conventional tree (lower master valve, upper master
valve and swab valve).
As with the conventional tree, intervention well work
such as slickline, e-line or coiled tubing operations
can be carried out by removing a debris cap and
connecting to the Xmas Tree with a Subsea
Intervention Lubricator (SIL). The two crown plugs
are then removed using slickline to gain access to
the wellbore.

The shallow-water conventional tree system is

usually deployed on guidelines from an anchored
semi-submersible drilling rig, typically utilizing a
flowbase configuration so that the tree can be
retrieved without disturbing the flowlines. Because
the tubing hanger is installed within the wellhead
system, in the event of a heavy (tubing retrieval)
workover, the tree needs to be recovered.

There are two major advantages for a horizontal

tree as compared to conventional. Firstly, since
the tubing hanger is run after the tree is in place,
a workover requiring the tubing to be pulled can be
achieved without recovering the tree. Secondly, the
tree and tubing hanger do not require a purpose
built completion riser system. The tree can be
run on drillpipe or connected to the BOP stack on
marine riser.

The Horizontal Tree system has some major

differences. The Xmas Tree is installed on the
wellhead prior to the completion and tubing hanger
being installed. The tubing hanger is then locked in
place and tested inside the Xmas Tree treehead.
The tubing hanger has a side port which lines up
with the horizontal production outlet within the tree

ROV based flowline and umbilical connections can

made directly to the tree assembly. The system can
be supplied with a flowbase if required, however
most applications feature flowline and umbilical
connections made directly to the tree assembly
eliminating this item.

Horizontal Tree

Conventional Tree

Tree Cap
Crown Plugs
Tubing Hanger

Master Valve


Tree Connector

Tree Connector

Tubing Hanger


Figure 6... Subsea Tree Cutaway Section

Tree Cap

Test Yourself

What system would you choose for a water depth of

(a) 150-300 meters? (b) 750-1,000 meters (c) 3,000 meters?
You will find the answer to Test Yourself 1 on page 51

Section 2 - Oil Industry

Engineering Standards
standards needed for sound design,
safety and environmental soundness for
sub-sea production equipment and their
component parts to gain International

American Petroleum Institute (API)

 ation Association
of Corrosion Engineers (NACE)
 merican Association
of Mechanical Engineers (ASME)
National Aerospace Society (NAS)

The Oil and Gas Industry requires the assistance of

certain standards for the quality and performance
of every item no matter how big or small it may be.

API 17 D. Lays down the requirements for material,

testing and certifications for subsea equipment in
general whether it is for well drilling or production

The importance of knowledge and familiarity of these

standards is very important because they will let us
check and understand the complete specification
that must be clearly marked on all the equipment
that is about to be installed on the seabed.

NACE MR-01-10. Specifies special materials heat

treatments and other recommendations for use in a
sour environment.

Standards for materials and pressure, temperature

and reliability have been developed over a period
of some 60 years these apply to the manufacture
of steels and other materials and processes,
the physical, functional and pressure testing of
every Wellhead and Xmas tree assembly and its
component parts to be installed they are:

ASME V111. Provides dimensional information

of flanges, nuts and bolts and seals to be used
in various service conditions of pressure and
NAS 1638. Specifies permissible contamination of
all control system fluids in levels rated 1-8.


The information provided is in tabulated form

and it is easy to follow as can be seen here:
TABLE 1 - Material Requirements
Minimum Material Requirements
Materials Class

Body, Bonnet, End

and Outlet Connections

Pressure Controlling Parts

Stems and Madrel Hangers

AA - General Service
BB - General Service
CC - General Service
DD - Sour Service
EE - Sour Service
FF - Sour Service
HH - Sour Service

Carbon or low alloy steel

Carbon or low alloy steel
Stainless Steel
Carbon or low alloy steel
Carbon or low alloy steel
Stainless Steel

Carbon or low alloy steel

Stainless Steel
Stainless Steel
Carbon or low alloy steel
Stainless Steel
Stainless Steel

As defined by NACE Standard MR 0175 In compliance with NACE Standard MR0175

Ref. API 6A, 17th Edition, Table 4.3 - Materials Requirements

TABLE 2 - Temperature Ratings

Temperature Ratings
Operating Range

























































TABLE 3 - Particle contamination coding system

NAS 1638 - ISO 4406
Maximum Number of Particles / 100ml



































































(Oil Industry standard for Hydraulic fluid cleanliness is Class 6)

Note: Never use anything but the latest for any information you require

Test Yourself

Using this information refer to the tables to determine

what the specification of a Xmas tree would be for the
following actual data collected from the drill testing
What does the engineering standard API 17 D
relate to?
You will find the answer to Test Yourself 2 on page 51


Section 3 - Wellhead
& Hanger Systems
After a discovery has been made, a consortium of
companies will buy into the development plan. The
very high capital outlay and infrastructure costs will
usually be shared. The participant with the biggest
share will normally become the operator and the
field will be named after them. When crude oil is
produced it is a mixture of water, oil and gas. Testing
of the crude oil will be done at the discovery stage to
determine the ratio of each.

Environmental impact will be as required by the

country that owns the block where the reservoir
is located and will play a major part in the type of
Xmas tree design that will be used and how it will be
serviced or developed over its life span.
Running tools will require a certain amount of
maintenance, refurbishment and protection
between uses and longer term protection between
developments. Many companies prefer to take
tools from the equipment manufacturer on a rental
basis so as to avoid any responsibility for their

Reservoirs can be sweet or sour if there is a portion

of Hydrogen Sulphide (H2S) present. This presence
will dictate the metallurgy that must be applied to
the tubing hanger, Xmas tree and any other areas
where the production fluids are in contact.

Many running tools will arrive on the rig housed in

long shipping baskets and will be lifted from a boat
onto the rig deck. Always beware of these items
swinging around and or lifting eyes breaking or
basket contents being insecure. Take care of every
ones safety and especially your own. This applies to
onshore handling and loading also.

Sour crude contains a cocktail of gasses that are

poisonous to man and destroy steel if not specially
The pressure of the reservoir is very important since
that will drive the oil up to the Xmas tree and onward
to the processing and export facilities. The length
and diameter of the tubing and flow lines will contain
a weight of crude and the underground pressure
has to deliver this in sufficient quantity over a long
period to make the project profitable. This factor will
determine the production bore for the tubing hanger
and Xmas tree so you can see where all the relevant
information is coming from.

Vulnerable areas would be:

Lifting eyes
Equipment clamps
Damage to baskets


The Wellhead

This housing will be rated at least:-

The Wellhead is the first component to be run and

is rated to suit the Pressure, Temperature, and
Bending needs.

250 Centigrade of continuous

temperature capability

10,000 psi for pressure containment

Two types of top profile exist for Wellheads:

Up to 7 million lbs (500 tons)

of bending load resistance

(1) Mandrel
(2) Hub

High strength internal load shoulder

The profile choice will be determined by the

connection on the bottom of the Blowout Preventer
on the particular Rig that is doing the work.
The mandrel profile is the most commonly used
because of the greater number of rigs that have a
BOP that is configured to them.
The work done by the wellhead system will minimize
difficulties that could arise during the long production
period of the well.

Corrosion resistant area to house and lock the

tubing hanger into.
A special taper sealing area to fit a large bore very
strong metal seal ring that will be placed between
the wellhead and the Blowout Preventer or the
Xmas tree.
The steel used will be in compliance with NACE
recommendations in case of sour service.
The design of the wellhead system will allow all the
bending forces generated by the BOP stack and
later the Xmas tree or and remedial work over the
life of the well to be dissipated into the area below
the seabed.

The strata through which drilling is done is far from

perfect and by lining all the sections with a steel liner
or Casing and filling the annulus between them with
cement they were sealed each one inside the other
to make a very strong and stiff reinforced column
that is suspended and sealed inside the wellhead.
This creats an assembly that would share bending
loads and dissipate them into the strata below.
The main component part of the wellhead system is
the High Pressure Housing.

Wellheads rated at 15,000psi are also available

and will be used in more arduous and harsher

VX Seal Area

Running Tool
Cam Profile

VT Seal Area

Tubing Hanger/
Lockdown Profile

Seal Wickers
Ratch Lockring

Duel Socket

High Strength Insert Ring

on 15k System Only


Figure 10... Mandrel High Pressure

The High Pressure Wellhead (Mandrel Profile)

The High Pressure Wellhead

in the water parts will be crucial because of the

bending forces being applied to these areas and the
rigs ability to keep them in tension. The long Riser
connecting the Blowout Preventer to the Drilling Rig
can be the controlling factor in our choice of Rig to
do the work.

(Mandrel Profile)

The areas marked are where the main seal will be

positioned for each casing hanger.
The ribbed profile at the top is what the BOP will
lock onto the uppermost inner taper is the main
high pressure seal gasket between the BOP and
the Xmas tree.

The drilling Riser forms a conduit that will bring

drilling fluids (mud) and rock debris from the drill-bit
to the surface where a series of cleaning systems
will remove all unwanted materials from the mud
and this will be reconditioned for re-use.

The seals between the high pressure wellhead and

the casing hanger body are metallic encapsulated
elastomeric type. This works by squeezing a
rubber element which then deflects a metal lip onto
the wellhead and hanger surfaces and pre-loads it
there for the life of the well. These seals are also
rated at 10,000 psi and 250C.

The Riser is made of lightweight steel tubing with a

high tensile strength. The weight of the riser whilst
in operation is very high and if allowed to sag it
would flex and break from metal fatigue. The Rig
has a special Riser tensioning system that will hold
the entire system up in tension this will overcome
that problem.

Mandrel High Pressure

Normally three casing hangers will be landed
and sealed into the high pressure housing:

Another force that acts on our Riser is Vortex

Shedding, this produces large amounts of vibration
as the current or tide flows past.

One for 13.3/8 casing.

One for 9.5/8 casing.

Where the water is very deep, >2000 meters or

more, it can be artificially lightened by adding
buoyancy modules.

Should it be needed an extra 7

one can be accommodated.

The modules are strapped around the riser body,

which will effectively reduce the weightin-water
to give the entire Riser an overall reduction this
may allow the use of a lesser rig that would be less

The casings used during the drilling phase are

selected for their ability to resist external pressure
from the strata (collapse), internal pressure (burst)
and tensile strength to carry the total weight that
will be suspended by the casing hanger inside the

Now that the drilling work is finished a period of time

will elapse until the well is finished off or completed
as a production oil or gas well or maybe a well for
injecting water into the reservoir to replace the
production that has been removed.

The limit of the weight carrying ability of that area will

determine the length of a particular casing string.
Pressure test loads that are applied at the time of
installation are a substantial part of that equation.

The water injection process is done under pressure

and will sweep the oil towards a production well
and help to slow down the declining pressure within
the reservoir that is responsible for pushing the
production up to th e seabed and beyond.

Bending Force
Bending force is generated by the pressure
applied to everything that is in the water between
the seabed and the surface of the sea.
We have tide that ebbs and flows twice every
twenty four hours and various strengths of current
that can run indifferent directions but usually at the
same level. The result of this condition acting on
the total area of the BOP stack and the drilling riser
transfers the load to the wellhead and this in turn
will distribute these down into the first 800 to 1,000
meters of strata below the seabed. The graphic
below shows the approximate areas involved.

A drilling rig will now run a production flow-base this

component will lock onto the wellhead and orient
the position of a connection that will be connected
to the export pipeline.

The Tubing Hanger

This is a very important component which has
to be strong enough to support the weight of the
tubing that is attached to its lower end by a special
premium thread.

The bending and tensile strength capacity of all


made in its bore for special plugs to be run on a wire

and locked and sealed in place. This will prevent
any pressure from leaking past this point. These
plugs are removed when its time to bring the well
on stream

It suspends and seals the removable tubing string

inside the wellhead. This may require removal and
replacement during the lifetime of the well. The
tubing hanger is a one piece component that is
required to seal off inside the wellhead. Provision is

Rig Tension

Rig Buoyancy
4,800 tons
Ocean Surface

B.O.P. stack 200 tons
surface area 75sq/mtr per

Xmas tree 40 tons

sq/mtr per side
Max Bending


Test Yourself

(a) Name one of the wellhead types?

(b) What is the bending load of the wellhead?
(c) How many casing hangers can be fitted
into the wellhead?
(d) Where does the Riser fit?
You will find the answer to Test Yourself 3 on page 51

Figure 11... Bending Force

Riser 400 tons

1,800 sq/mtr

Section 4 - Workover Systems

A Production Flowbase is a fabricated unit that is
fitted with valves and connections to facilitate the
connection of subsea flowlines and umbilicals.

stored on reels below the rigs drilling deck.

The lines are numbered 1, 2, 3 and 4, and the rig is
oriented until due North is in line with the rotary table
in the centre of the drill floor and guideline No1. The
guide lines are connected to four Guide Posts, that
are part of the flowbase, and four remotely unlocking
Post Tops so that the guide lines can be recovered
when required.

If a Production Flowbase is installed, the flowlines

and controls umbilical can be connected either
before or after the Xmas Tree is installed. Also, in
the event that the Xmas Tree needs to be recovered
sometime in the future, because they are connected
to the flowbase there is no requirement to disconnect
the flowlines and umbilicals.

To release these post tops and the guide lines at

the seabed, a 100 kilo cylindrical weight called a Go
Devil, is attached to each guide line and dropped
down the line until it stops on the post top unlock
trigger, which once depressed, releases the guide
line. The line, along with the Go Devil and post top,
is then recovered to surface. The guide lines also
have an independent tensioning system.

The Production Flowbase is installed on the

wellhead prior to the Xmas Tree being installed.
This assembly will be fitted over and locked on to
the wellhead. It is orientated to the correct position
to align the flowline connections on the flowbase
with the subsea flowline jumpers to enable easy

The BOP is installed after installing the production

flowbase and locked to the wellhead. Drilling
operations can now commence.

The Production Flowbase is run on a guide line

system. This is a series of four 25mm diameter wire
ropes or guide lines that will extend from the rig
to the seabed and give the means of guiding the
flowbase through the water. The guide lines are

After drilling operations are completed and the

casing / liner has been installed, the well is ready
to be completed in readiness for production. This


involves running production tubing and various

downhole flow control devices into the well. One of
these flow control devices is a special fail safe closed
hydraulic safety valve. This is called a Surface
Controlled Sub-Surface Safety Valve (SCSSSV).

Numerous access penetrations or couplers can
be incorporated into the hanger. They will carry
hydraulic fluid, chemicals, and pressure/ temperature
sensors. On a conventional system, only half of the
coupler is installed in the hanger face, the other half
will be part of the underside of Xmas tree to be run
later hence the need for accurate radial alignment.

The SCSSSV acts as a failsafe to prevent the

uncontrolled release of reservoir fluids in the
event of a worst case scenario surface disaster. It
is almost always installed as a vital component in
the completion. It is controlled hydraulically from
the surface, meaning it is opened using a hydraulic
connection linked directly to a well control panel.
When hydraulic pressure is applied down a control
line, the hydraulic pressure forces a sleeve within
the valve to slide downwards. This movement
compresses a large spring and pushes the flapper
downwards to open the valve. When hydraulic
pressure is removed, the spring pushes the sleeve
back up and causes the flapper to shut. In this way,
it is failsafe and will isolate the wellbore in the event
of a loss of the wellhead.

At this point the control of all subsea functions is

carried out by the Installation and Workover Control
System (IWOCS).
The IWOCS controls and monitors the deployment,
the operation and the retrieval of subsea production
equipment such as Tubing Hangers, Landing
Strings and Xmas Trees.
The IWOCS system consists of several major
pieces of equipment:
Hydraulic Power Unit (HPU) is the primary system
component of the IWOCS. It provides the hydraulic
power to operate the various running tools and
subsea tree valves. The integrated local control
panel provides control of tree functions, tree
running tool (TRT) / workover umbilical reel and
the tubing hanger running tool (THRT) umbilical

Connected to the top of the production tubing is

the Tubing Hanger. It is set in the tree or wellhead
and suspends the production tubing. The hanger
is a critical component made from special alloy
or stainless steel to give a well lifetime guarantee
free from corrosion. It provides porting to allow
the communication of hydraulic, electric and other
downhole functions, as well as chemical injection.
It also serves to seal-in the annulus and production

Figure 13... HPU

Workover / TRT Reel and Umbilical is a reeled,
multi-way electro hydraulic umbilical providing
power and communication connections to control
TRT and tree functions. A multi-way stab plate
terminates the subsea umbilical hydraulic hoses.

Figure 12... IWOCS System


Umbilical Sheaves assist deployment of the

workover / TRT and THRT control umbilicals and
are sized to ensure that an umbilical cannot be
bent beyond recommended minimum bend radius.

Figure 16... Umbilical Sheave

Remote ESD Station consists of push buttons and
indicators to initiate a single level shutdown of the
IWOCS and a remote shutdown of the subsea
production system.

Figure 14... TRT Umbilical

THRT Reel and Umbilical is a reeled, multi-way
hydraulic umbilical providing communication
connections to control THRT functions. Individual
hydraulic couplers terminate the subsea umbilical
hydraulic hoses, while wet-mateable connectors
terminate the electrical cables downhole pressure
& temperature monitoring.

The IWOCS will control locking the tubing hanger.

A small port that is normally open will be closed off
when the hanger is in its fully landed position and
by seeing pressure build up in the corresponding
umbilical line confirms this. The lockdown wedges
are activated and the seal hanger is tested.
In the case of a convention tree system, once the
hanger has been locked and tested, isolation plugs
are set in the tubing hanger bores as barriers prior
to removing the landing string and BOP. Once
these items have been recovered the Xmas tree is
installed and tested followed by the recovery of the
tubing hanger plugs. The well is now ready to be
perforated prior to being put on production.

Figure 15... THRT Umbilical

Hydraulic Deck Jumpers connects the WHPU to the
THRT and workover reels. The jumpers consists
of a thermoplastic hydraulic bundle terminated at
each end with stab plates.


Figure 17... Workover System

Figure 18... Installation & Workover Tooling

Installation and
Workover Tooling


Depending on the field design the

Permanent Guide Base will be
replaced by a Production Guide Base
and positioned two meters above
the seabed and where hydrates are
present a large diverter plate or (mud
mat) will be installed at the actual
seabed level. The other assemblies
are standard items of tree running

Figure 19 is a typical example of a

conventional subsea tree. You can
see the corner post receptacles
and the large front ROV interface
The bright coloured tabs at each
of the ROV intervention points
are positioned to be directly in
shot for the video camera. This
information is transmitted back
up to the surface control room and
recorded for record purposes.
The tabs are made of a luminescent
plastic and will be covered in tape
to preserve there qualities. This
tape is removed by the installation
supervisor immediately prior to
the Xmas tree deployment.

Figure 19... Conventional Tree

Test Yourself

(a) What gets connected to the Flowbase?

(b) What opens the SCSSV?
(c) What is the function of the Tubing Hanger
(d) What is the IWOCS function?
You will find the answer to Test Yourself 4 on page 51


Section 5 - Conventional Xmas Tree

separate pieces of equipment not to be mistaken as
the same piece. The Xmas tree is installed on top
of the wellhead. A wellhead is used without a Xmas
tree during drilling operations when the drilling BOP
is installed on the wellhead.

The conventional tree design that has been our

subject comprises of a number of well proven parts
that are assembled together to make one unit.
Most user companies have there own requirement
over and above the API standards although they
are mainly on overall configuration or a need for an
extra valve or some additional chemical or control

The primary function of a Xmas tree is to control the

flow of well fluids and gas out of the well. A Xmas
tree may also be used to control the injection of
gas or water into a non-producing well in order to
enhance production rates of oil from other wells.

The main component is the valve block.

This is preferred to be made from one piece
to minimize joints as they could be a potential
leak point.

When the well and facilities are ready to produce

and receive oil or gas, tree valves are opened and
the formation fluids are allowed to flow through
a flow line to the production facilities on the host
platform or FPSO.

The preferred API 6A design for production of oil

or gas is the gate valve. A number of these will be
machined into the block body and arranged for
physical operation by ROV and some others will
be automated by hydraulic actuators with their
operation integrated into the overall control system.
The arrangement shown below is fairly typical of
this design in up to 300 meter depths.

A tree often provides numerous additional functions

including chemical injection points, well intervention
means, pressure relief means, monitoring points
(such as pressure, temperature, corrosion, erosion,
sand detection, flow rate, valve and choke position
feedback), and connection points for devices such
as down hole pressure and temperature transducers
(DHPT). On producing wells, chemicals may be
injected to prevent production problems such as
hydrates or scale.

The Master and Wing valves are red and the Swab
valve is yellow.
The smaller valves on the right are for monitoring
and control of the area below the tubing hanger
called the annulus.

The control system attached to the Xmas tree,

controls the downhole safety valve (SCSSSV) while
the tree acts as an attachment and conduit means
of the hydraulic control line to the downhole safety

Xmas trees are used on both surface and subsea

wells. It is common to identify the type of tree as
either subsea tree or surface tree. In this section
we are referring to what is known as a conventional
subsea tree. Note that a Xmas tree and wellhead are

A Conventional Xmas Tree generally refers to a


dual bore tree which has two vertical bores running

through the tree. The bores are typically 5 x 2 ID
but can be built to specific customer requirements.
The larger 5 bore is the production bore through
which the produced formation fluids flow. The
smaller 2 bore is a conduit to the annulus and is
used for access to the annulus with the likes of
gas injection. A crossover line which is isolated
with valves, connects both the production bore and
annulus bore to facilitate circulation / communication
between the bores.

when flowing, thus preserving the master valves

for positive shut off for emergency or maintenance
purposes. Hydraulic operated wing valves are
usually built to be fail safe closed, meaning they
require active hydraulic pressure to stay open. This
feature means that if control fluid fails the well will
automatically shut itself in without operator action.
The valve at the top of the vertical bores is called
the swab valve and lies in the path used for well
interventions such as wireline and coiled tubing
operations. For such operations, a lubricator is
rigged up onto the top of the tree and the wire or
coil is lowered through the lubricator, past the swab
valve and into the well. There is also an annulus
swab valve to enable access to the annulus bore
of the tubing hanger to facilitate plug setting in the
tubing hanger.

Tree complexity has increased over the last few

decades. They are frequently manufactured from
blocks of steel containing multiple valves rather
than being assembled from individual flanged
components. This is especially true in subsea
applications where the resemblance to Xmas trees
no longer exists given the frame and support systems
into which the main valve block is integrated.

Subsea trees may range in size and weight from a

few tons to approximately 70 tons for high pressure,
deepwater (>3000 feet) guidelineless applications.
Subsea trees contain many additional valves and
accessories compared to Surface trees. Typically a
subsea tree would have a choke (permits control of
flow), a floline connection interface (hub, flange or
other connection), subsea control interface (direct
hydraulic, electro hydraulic, or electric) and sensors
for gathering data such as pressure, temperature,
sand flow, erosion and flow measurement.

Subsea Xmas trees have a large variety of valve

configurations and combinations of hydraulic
actuated valves. Examples are identified in API
Specifications 6A and 17D.
The conventional tree has vertical bore valves. The
two lower valves on each bore are called the master
valves (upper and lower respectively). Master valves
are normally in the fully open position and are never
usually opened or closed when the well is flowing
(except in an emergency) to prevent erosion of the
valve sealing surfaces. The valves are hydraulically
actuated, allowing a means of remotely shutting in
the well in the event of emergency.

When a dual bore subsea Xmas tree is connected

to a subsea wellhead it must interface with the
tubing hanger previously installed in the wellhead.
The tubing hanger and tree must be correctly
orientated so that the production and annulus bores
are properly aligned with each other.

An actuated wing valve is located on the horizontal

flow path and is normally used to shut in the well



















ASV - Annulus Swab Valve

AWV - Annulus Wing Valve
PUMV - Production Upper Master Valve
PWV - Production Wing Valve

AMV - Annulus Master Valve

PSV - Production Swab Valve
PLMV - Production Lower Master Valve
XOV - X-over Valve


API 6A Gate Valve

The API 6A Gate Valve is the industry standard and
can be fitted with a variety of internal parts that suit
different types of produced medium.

Figure 23... Gate Valve

Crude oil as produced will have been analysed

at the time the well was flow tested, this will have
determined the proportions of water, oil and gas or
Oil to Gas ratio.
When the oil ratio is high say 90% or more with
the balance mainly water with a little gas and no
presence of Hydrogen Sophie( (H2S)) this will be an
OIL WELL. The parts or trim of this valve will be
as listed in table 1.1 (page 14)
If the well is 95% gas with 2% water and 3% Carbon
Dioxide (CO2) it will be a Gas well. The parts for
this valve will be as listed in table 1.

Valve Actuators

If we have approximately equal parts of water, oil

and gas this well will probable be left unfinished
until later when it can be used as a Water Injection
well so as to replace some of the oil that has been
removed or to sweep oil towards another producer.

Valve Actuators are very specialized single acting

hydraulic cylinders that are fitted to valve bonnets
so they can be remotely functioned.
Water based or oil fluid can be used as the power
supply but where we are operating in an oceanic
environment, water based is normally the preferred

Production gate valves vary in bore size and

pressure/temperature rating for subsea production.
They are usually 5 bore for oil and 6 bore for gas.
With a temperature rating of -20/+250 (API. P-U)
Pressure ratings of 20 and 30,000 psi with
temperatures of up to 450oC are available for other
oilfield purposes.

This fluid is a mixture of 80% water, 19% glycol and

1% biocide and lubricating agents.
Certain companies prefer to use non foaming
hydraulic oil and this undoubtedly offers considerably
more lubricating qualities but since the units will
rarely be functioned during there operational life
lubrication is not an issue.
Operating pressure for an actuator will vary
depending on two things:

1) The operating pressure of the well.

2) The depth of the water. (1.3 lbs/mtr)

Inside the actuator are a piston and a large spring,

because a spring is a highly stressed component
we must make sure it is not allowed to become
corroded. In order to do this, the spring housing
will be filled with control fluid. When fluid is pumped
in, the piston is displaced down, the spring gets
depressed and its fluid is displaced into a holding
chamber that is open to sea pressure at one end.
This is the holding position for an open valve.

Figure 21... API Gate Valve


The API requirement for Xmas tree valves is fail

safe closed (FSC). In the event of a loss of input
fluid from a malfunction, feed line failure or a system
command the large spring assisted by sea pressure
acting on the Sea Chest will push the valve closed
and fill the spring housing with fluid. This is called
fail safe closed.

During the life of a field, possibly as long as 20

years, the only routine maintenance of the system
will be fluid filtration and the examination of any
particles of metal, rubber or plastics since they will
be our first indicator of wear or erosion taking place
somewhere in the equipment. By identifying the
particles we will be aware of something happening
and this could avert a costly shut-in of the well.

Before fluid can be filled into a system it should be

taken from sealed drums that contain pre-filtered
fluid that are in compliance with specification
NAS.1638 CLASS 6.

The actuator is attached to the valve body by the

valve bonnet and is function tested as a complete

When the system is completely charged it needs

to be flushed. This flushing process will circulate
the fluid aggressively around the system so as to
dislodge any small microscopic particles from the
actuators, the piping and any other part of the swept

These two parts are the interface and have to be

supplied by the valve manufacturer and will allow
any make of actuator to be fitted.
The actuator is subject to the same trim material
requirements and falls under the same API
classification as the valve.

Fluid cleanliness is the key to system reliability and

at the manufacturing stage a fluid sampling system
will be used to make checks by taking small amounts
of fluid and checking them for contamination by
comparing the sample with a known standard under
a microscope.

The external surfaces will be finished in high tech

high visibility epoxy paints so as to ease relocation
in low or no light conditions.
All the actuators on a subsea tree are arranged to
failsafe closed.
Three forces will combine to do this;-

When compliance with NAS.1638 CLASS 6 is

achieved the fitter, QC inspector and often a third
party representative will sign the system off as fit
for purpose.

The internal spring force.

The ocean pressure on the sea chest.
The flowing pressure of the well acting
on the unbalanced stem (one end in one end out
of the valve).

During the operating life of the system the fluid will

slowly be circulated back to the control vessel or
platform where it will be conditioned back to the
NAS.1638 CLASS 6 standard.

The flowing pressure is by far the greatest and will

automatically push the stem upwards and closes
the valve.

System operating pressures will normally be from

3-5,000 psi in most areas of the world but can be as
high as 20,000 psi so as to function the SCSSSV in
a deep water high pressure well.

Figure 24... Actuator

During the Xmas tree installation the Xmas tree

functions are controlled by the IWOCS system
on the drilling rig. Once the tree is installed and
operations on the drilling have been completed,
the IWOCS system is recovered severing hydraulic
control to the tree. The Tree Cap is then installed.
The tree cap is fitted with a number of hydraulic
couplers which mate up with the hydraulic lines on
the Xmas tree, providing a hydraulic link between
the tree functions and the Xmas tree control pod.
This enables the Xmas tree to be functioned by the
host platform.
Conventional layout trees are made to be used in a
variety of locations and water depths of up to 2,000

Figure 25... Adjustable Choke

Beyond this depth a different design will be used

that we will see later.
The guideline-less system for water up to 3500
meters uses the same parts but the are guided
together by moving the drilling rig with the equipment
hanging in the water until a funnelup captures a
sleeve down then orientation guides present the
parts correctly to be locked together.
When this activity is going on, our eyes are the
cameras and lights onboard the ROV supporting
With the exception of the cap, the tree will probably
remain on the seabed for all its production life of
twenty years or more.

deployed by a support vessel thereby avoiding the

need for a drilling rig.

Within the frame work of the tree, we also have two

other parts that play a major role during that period.

Control Pod

These are the:

Choke and the Control Pod

The Control Pod is other item on the Xmas tree this

is the unit that will receive electronic signals and
translate them into hydraulic commands then send
that to the requisite function. The unit is completely
self contained and will function in all water depths
simply by adjusting the operating pressure of
the hydraulic section for valve actuators and the
nitrogen atmosphere inside the casing is increased

The difference with them is we have the ability to

remotely, with the ROV remove parts that have worn
beyond an acceptable condition of have suffered
some component failures.

A Choke is bolted into the flow system downstream
of the wing valve and as its name suggests it is a
device that will regulate flow from the well.
This device is a made very heavily with thick sections
so as to withstand high pressure and erosion from
flowing well fluids.

Figure 26... Control Module Internals

They are also fitted with an aperture that will be

variable so we can make adjustments up or down
on the flow rate from the Xmas tree the choke rating
is quoted in controlled velocity (C.V.)
There is a high rate of erosion of the choke insert,
it is made from a very wear resistant man made
alloy called Tungsten Carbide. The wear is usually
higher at the start up and early years of high flow
rate where particles are still breaking loose from the
The flow through the choke is supersonic and
therefore it has a high decibel rating but because
we are in some depth of water this is not an issue.
When the insert is worn to where the necessary
adjustment cannot be achieved it can be removed
and replaced on the seabed remotely using an ROV

to prevent collapse from sea pressure.

Tree Cap

Hermetically sealed inside the outer brightly coloured

can is the electronic package this is normally a
solid state system that is designed to be long life
and reliable. It also contains fluid accumulators that
hold 210% for re total swept volume of all the valve
actuators and the SCSSV. This volume is sufficient
to give two complete cycles of the entire system.
As high pressure fluid is used it will be replenished
from the platform down the umbilical line.

Guide Posts

Xmas Tree

On the left is the removable orange upper pod

sitting inside its angled catchment funnel with the
V orientation slot at the front. On the right shows
the electronics section and the orange actuator
operating fluid storage accumulators.
The umbilical line has a finite pressure rating,
should we need a higher pressure fluid it may be
impractical because of flow rate or physical size just
make things bigger.

Guide Base

Guide Base

Figure 28... Tree Assembly with cap

We must then use an Intensifier to boost the

pressure the intensifier works by applying umbilical
pressure to a piston of a given diameter which will
in turn boost the pressure at its outlet.

At this point a large and very strong plate will be

used and this is populated with one half of the fluid
couplers with the other half being on the underside
of the control pod.

All the Xmas Tree pipework terminates in the section

under the control pod and will be subjected to the
same cleaning and flushing procedures.

The lower half will be fitted with a floating guide

sleeve to reduce the positional criticality of the
couplers. The two large nuts that will hold the upper
and lower halves together and prevent separation
of the couplings can be seen on the upper right and
lower left of the plate.
The area of the tree where this unit is located is well
protected by bumper bars to ensure its safety.

Figure 27... Subsea Control Module

Cathodic Protection is part of the Xmas tree design

and 99% pure zinc anodes will be welded to the
framework to ensure a perfect connection.
The amount of zinc needed is calculated using
the temperature and salinity of the water and the
estimated life of the immersion period.


Figure 29... Hydraulic Intensifier

Figure 30... Control Module Mounting Base

The function of the Flowbase is to provide the export line orientation and isolation
vale to shut off the flow.

Test Yourself

(a) Where is the master valve in a conventional tree,

in a horizontal or vertical bore?
(b) What is the function of the tree cap?
(c) What is the function of the choke?
(d) When is a hydraulic intensfier used
in the control system?

You will find the answer to Test Yourself 5 on page 51


Section 6 - Spool or Horizontal

Xmas Tree
A wireline retrievable plug (tubing hanger crown
plug) fits in the vertical passage of the tubing hanger
above the horizontal passage. This is the primary
pressure barrier.

One type of Xmas tree assembly, particularly

used offshore, is known as a Horizontal tree. The
tree mounts on top of the wellhead housing. The
tree has a vertical bore and a horizontal or lateral
production flow outlet. No valves are in the vertical
bore of the wellhead / tree system. The completion
is run after the tree is installed, and the completion
can be pulled with the tree in place and flowline
connections undisturbed.

An Internal Tree Cap (ITC) fits above the tubing

hanger in the bore of the tree. The ITC is run and
retrieved through the BOP stack using the tubing
hanger tools. The
cap seals and locks into the tree using the same
mechanism as the tubing hanger.

The top of the tree is designed so that the BOP can

be landed and locked on top of the tree.
Eliminating the need to remove the tree to pull
production tubing saves rig time especially for
completions that require frequent retrieval of
downhole equipment.

The tree cap has a vertical passage within which

a second retrievable plug (ITC crown plug) fits
creating a second barrier to the environment. The
ITC plug is metal sealing with an elastomer backup..

Eliminating the need for an expensive, dualbore workover and completion riser system cuts
equipment costs.

A tubing annulus between the tubing and the casing

communicates to a lower annulus port formed in the
tree. This port leads through an annulus passage
to an upper annulus port which extends into the
bore of the tree above the tubing hanger seals.
One or more valves are used to open and close
the tubing annulus. The upper tubing annulus port
communicates with a void that is located between
the tubing hanger crown plug and the seal of the
internal tree cap.

A tubing hanger lands in the bore of the tree and is

secured to a string of production tubing extending
through the casing hangers and into the well. The
tubing hanger has a lateral flow passage that aligns
with the lateral passage of the horizontal tree.
the tubing hanger has a concentric bore and side
production outlet. During installation, the hanger
orients, lands and locks to the bore of the tree body.
At the bottom of the hanger, an orientation sleeve
with a helix engages a key in the tree, to positively
align the hanger outlet with the tree body outlet.

A debris cap covers and protects the tree top, and is

non-pressure retaining.
The cap is mechanically weight set and is run
and retrieved with drillpipe. When landed, the cap

latches to the external profile on to the top of the

tree body. The debris cap is filled with corrosion
inhibiter to protect the ITC sealing areas.

and workover activities can be performed under

full BOP control using a standard drilling riser and
blowout preventer, which connects to an 18-3/4
profile on top of the tree body. Because tubing
is installed after the tree is in place and the BOP
connected, there is uninterrupted BOP protection
from the moment the well is perforated. With the
conventional tree system equipment, the tubing
must be installed before removing the BOP and
installing the tree.

The tree is run using an 18-3/4 Cam Actuated

Running Tool (CART) which is connected to the tree
upper mandrel. The CART is run on a landing string
(typically tubing) and hydraulic control is provided
by connecting the Installation and Workover Control
System (IWOCS). Once the tree has been landed
and locked to the wellhead the CART is released
and recovered to surface.
The Horizontal tree can be argued to be safer than
ordinary trees. All completion
Master Valve

Tree Cap
Internal Tree Cap
Tubing Hanger

Tree Block


Figure 31 ...Horizontal (Spool) Tree General














1/2 VX

18 3/4



5 1/2 TUBING

13 3/8 CASING



10 3/4 CASING


AAV - Annulus Access Valve

AWV - Annulus Wing Valve
PWV - Production Wing Valve

AMV - Annulus Master Valve

PMV - Production Master Valve
XOV - X-over Valve

Test Yourself

(a) What are the advantages of running a Horizontal

Tree as opposed to a Conventional Tree?
(b) Where are the crown plugs installed?
(c) How is the Horizontal Tree installed?
You will find the answer to Test Yourself 6 on page 51

Section 7 - Well Intervention System

Subsea Landing String

allows the string to be unlatched and re-latched

as conditions require. Once unlatched, the upper
section of the landing string is recovered leaving
the lower section containing the dual ball valves
in the BOP. The BOP blind / shear rams can be
closed above the remaining SSTT section. In the
event of hydraulic control line failure the latch can
be unlatched manually by rotation.

When running or performing an Intervention on a

well with a Horizontal Xmas Tree, the landing string
system provides a means of shutting in the well and
disconnecting in the case of an emergency. It is a
critical component in the safety of personnel, the
well and the rig.
The landing string provides well control functions and
disconnection capabilities during well installation,
workover, intervention and well test operations
on wells with horizontal subsea Xmas trees. The
system provides the dual barriers required during
intervention operations and while running the
horizontal Xmas tree.

Retainer Valve
The Retainer Valve is sits above the SSTT just
above the BOP Shear Rams and is designed, in the
event of a disconnect, to isolate the landing string
contents and vent trapped pressure from between
the Retainer Valve and the SSTT to the marine riser.
The retainer valve closes prior to unlatching the
subsea landing string from the xmas tree, thus
nting any hydrocarbons in the landing string from
escaping into the environment.

The landing string system consists of the following

Sub Sea Test Tree (SSTT)
The SSTT acts as the main safety barrier towards
the well and is positioned on the bottom of the
landing string assy. It is fitted with two fail safe close
ball valves, each able to isolate & contain maximum
well bore pressure from below. These valves can be
configured to cut Coil Tubing and Wireline while still
maintaining sealing integrity.
It is designed to sit within the drilling BOP allowing
the BOP rams to be closed around the SSTT
providing a barrier to the production bore / annulus.

As the Landing String is bled, the Retainer Valve

allows riser fluid to enter, displacing hydrocarbons
from within the string.
Lubricator Valve
The Lubricator valve is located at the upper end
of the landing string at a predetermined depth
below the rig floor. This enables long intervention
toolstrings (wireline or coiled tubing) to be made up
or recovered from a live well. The Lubricator valve
therefore allows the Landing String to be used in
place of very long wireline lubricator assemblies on

The SSTT has a pump through ability for well control

in the event that hydraulic control pressure is lost.
The SSTT is fitted with a disconnect facility in case
of emergency. The hydraulic latch mechanism

Annular Ram
Retainer Valve
Shear Sub

Shear Rams
Subsea Test Tree
Integral Slick Joint
Fixed/Variable Pipe Rams

Tubing Hanger
Running Tool
Adaptor Sub

Tubing Hangar Running Tool

Figure 32... Subsea Landing String


Figure 33... SSTT & Retainer Valve

Test Yourself

(a) What is the function of the landing string?

You will find the answer to Test Yourself 7 on page 51


Section 8 - Protective Structures

Horizontal or Spool Tree
Protective Structures

occasions the ROV is unable to carry out work

before cutting away large sections of net snagged
on the tree framework.

More and more effort is going into the design the

making of the subsea well-site as environmental
and fishing friendly as is practical.

No shelter is gained for small pipe-work during

deployment and some smaller items can get
dislodged or damaged during passage through the
splash zone.

The Open Structure Tree Frame is designed to

withstand a substantial pull without causing any
damage to the Xmas tree components and offers a
reduced snag profile to meet the requirements for
fishing nets.

The onus falls on the driller and his crew to get

below the surface as expediently as possible to
avoid wave damage
Certain areas will be sensitive to ocean floor
obstructions so the more natural the object they can
be the better.

Even although the regulations preclude fishing in

the immediate area of a subsea facility on many

Figure 34... Subsea Tree Deployment

Figure 35... Horizontal Tree


The Totally Enclosed Xmas Tree

They must resist the pull of fishermans equipment

such as Otter boards and nets.

The Totally Enclosed Xmas Tree is within a plastic

casing, this is installed in two parts:-

The over-trawlability of the tree and its structure

must stand a 50 ton shock pull without any distortion
that could cause a mal-function to take place.

The lower skirt section is a seabed level

and prevents shifting sand from entering
the well-site.

One International operator has enclosed the trees

completely by using the clam shell approach.

The upper unit is fitted with a hinge and

can be opened to give open access for the
ROV and closed for a streamlined shape.
Apertures are fitted with plastic gratings to exclude
larger fish.

Angled plates from the seabed up and opening

upper sections expose the tree should any work be
required and when it is all closed-up the tree is fully

The protective structures that are built onto or

surround a conventional Xmas Tree have to have
considerable strength.

To save weight and maintain strength new

composite material are being developed for this
type of structure.

Figure 36... Xmas Tree under testing

Figure 37... Overtrawable Protection Structure

Figure 38... Overtrawable Protection Structure


Figure 39... Xmas Tree with two Control Pods

Test Yourself

(a) What force are the structures designed to withstand?

(b) Why do we use a completely enclosed version?
You will find the answer to Test Yourself 8 on page 51


Section 9 - Subsea Field Layout

A field layout to produce a small reservoir
with an economical production life of 30 years.
Gas Production: 20MSm3 /
sd (223 kg/s)
Reservoir Pressure: 270 bar, 2280m
Reservoir Temperature: 91C
Expected life: 30 years
CO2 Re-injection @210 bar:
2600 Tun/sd, 0.03 kg/s

Subsea System

Figure 40... Field Layout

3 x 4 Slot Production
1 CO2 Injection Well
Subsea Control System
Workover System

Field Location
Norwegian Sea
330m Water Depth
Transportation to Melkoya
Pipeline 160km
Electro Hyd Fibre Optic Umbilical
9 Production Subsea Xmas Trees
1 Injection Subsea Xmas Trees
1 Workover Riser System


Figure 41... Snohvit field Schematic


Drilling and completion work is now complete and

you can see the four Xmas trees are in place.

As its name suggests, this is a component that has

a number of well centres accurately incorporated
into its structure.

With the manifold and control pod connected the

protective structure is fitted with angled corner
posts to comply with industry standards.

It is quite normal for 6-8 wells to be clustered together

in a closely confined space and this means we can
possible operate all of them from one control pod
and umbilical line making a saving on the capital
budget of a substantial amount of money. Because
this is a one piece unit, the flow-line, umbilical lines
and piping are all built-in. Many connections will
automatically make-up together when the Xmas
tree is landed in its allocated position.

This type of template will be fitted with Xmas trees

especially designed for re-injecting carbon dioxide
that is a bi-product of some other process like
exhaust gasses from a gas burning power station.

Figure 42... Manifold Well Slots

When mixed with water this gas becomes very

corrosive so all wetted parts will be to API HH Trim.
This technology is new and is likely to become

The large cylinders are the suction feet these units

weight will sink it into the sand, water will be allowed
to escape from the top of each cylinder and it will
sink-in. we will achieve it level to half of one degree
using this method.
Guide posts can be seen protruding from the four
corners of each drilling guide base and a depth
indicator can be seen marked on the cylinder on
the right.
When landed, all posts marked No1 will face due

widespread as reservoirs become depleted of oil we

can use them for the long term shortage of all types
of greenhouse gasses. A lot of development will
have to take place before a system like this and the
associated pumping systems will see it in common
This is an example of a CO2 Xmas tree the format
is horizontal or Spool design and will fit into and
connect up to the facilities provided on the template.
Because of the nature of this trees service
conditions and the restrictive access to two sides all
the intervention or adjustment points are carefully
worked out.
Top access will be used for choke and control pod
removal or replacement.
Here the tree is on the rig finger deck being checked
to ensure all the systems are operating before
Figure 44... Field Layout

The ROV intervention docking buckets are see with

there function marked on tape used to cover the
luminescent signs because they we be impaired if
exposed to direct sunlight.

the choke, control pod and the panels that make up

the over-trawl protective structure.
On the left of the template are two flow lines the top
one is a 16 oil export lin going to the shore terminal
for onward shipment by tanker and the lower smaller
one is bringing CO2 from shore for injection back
into a zone that does not connect to the oil reservoir.

The tape is removed just before deployment.

What do the signs mean?
PMV...............................Production master valve.
MIV.2...................... Methanol injection valve No2
XOV.............................................Cross over valve

To the right are tooling packages that will be

required from time to time is a pigs unit (Propelled,
Information, Gathering System) this will be pushed
along the 16 line by the oil flow and check the line
for corrosion, cracks and other defects storing the
information as it goes.

This illustration shows the IWOCS system as it is

on the rig floor with its riser and other tooling and
control umbilical reels. Below it is the well control
package, Xmas tree and support structures.
Above the template are the remove/replace tools for

Figure 40 shows the gas injection Xmas tree in

the test pit with the safety equipment stacked and
locked to its top.
The pit will be filled with water and pressure tested
with Nitrogen gas to its maximum working pressure
and held for 60 minutes.
No bubbles are allowed
over that test period.
The size of the stacked-up system is evident as
seen here in the test pit prior to it being filled with
water in preparation for nitrogen gas testing.
At this stage the assembly would weigh approx
120 tons.

Figure 43... Production Equipment Installed


Figure 45... Subsea Equipment Components

ROV Intervention Docking
Bucket label meanings:
PMV.............. Production Master Valve
MIV.2...Methanol Injection Valve No. 2
XOV...........................Cross Over Valve
Figure 46... Gas test in water


Test Yourself

(a) How is the structure held in position?

(b) What is a template?
(c) How are the produced fluids transported
to the terminal?
You will find the answer to Test Yourself 9 on page 51


Section 10 - Case Study

This is a case study of a modern subsea development
where the water depth is 1200m and beyond the
capacity of guidelines. The production is oil that has
high paraffin wax content. The oil temperature at
the seabed and through the Xmas tree is moderate
so it is necessary to insulate the tree from the cold
seabed temperature of +2 degrees Centigrade.

This field will produce about 120,000 barrels per day,

and will be connected to a ship shape vessel called
a Floating Production, Storage and Off-loading Unit.
The (FPSO) is anchored in position and will process
the produced fluids and transfer them to an export

Hydrates seen as gas bubbles are also present in

the immediate vicinity.

A total of 16 trees will be installed and the field life is

estimated to be 22 to 25 years.

The initial installation and any field life interventions

need to be provided for and incorporated into the
tree design in such a way that work can be done
using specialized vessels instead of a full blown
drilling rig.

At some point during that period some

maintenance or repair work will be needed for
example:Corrosion or erosion in the production tubing,
Damage or wear in the SCSSV, Wear of the
choke insert or its adjusting mechanism.

The functioning of a production subsea tree systems

and valves is considerably less than a platform
surface tree this will save on normal wear and tear
so that should a problem develop below the tree.
If it is of horizontal or spool configuration it can be
reworked without the removal of the tree.

Production Xmas tree valves will have been

specified to have a 25 year operating life without
any maintenance hence the need for strict
manufacturing controls on the assemble of valves
and actuators the long term lubricants used and
their ability to function in ever increasing hostile

In this study, after a tree shut down the wax content

is of some concern, it is necessary to slow down the
cooling rate and keep the tree warm this will keep
the oil from thickening and ultimately solidifying and
making the tree non-functional.

Because of the number of trees in the field it is more

economical for the operator to buy their own tools
and have them maintained and tested prior to each
time they want to use them.

Tree insulation is crush resistant epoxy foam that

is applied to all the areas that normally carry the
production fluids areas like the tree block, the choke
and the flow line connection.


Field conditions are:

The equipment and the running tool stack-up are

shown here.

Field:............................... West Africa

Lower most is the Tubing Spool, it provides the

connector to lock on to the wellhead and a mandrel
that mimics the wellhead with the internal bore to
land, seal and lock the Tubing hanger in place. The
export line also is attached here.

Water Depth:.................. 1200 metres

Tree Type: ...................... 5 x 2 Conventional
Pressure:........................ 5,000 psi

Above that is the Xmas Tree and that is locked on

to the tubing spool (the white vertical pipe between
the two is the insulated flow line downstream of
the choke and where the export flow line will be

Temp:.............................. API Class U

(-18C to 121C)
Weight (Tree): ................ 31 Tons
Weight(TH Spool):......... 25 Tons

The two components above the tree are running

tools The Lower Riser Package (LRP) and the
Emergency Disconnect Package (EDP) these two
are normally kept together however if an emergency
arises when the tree is locked to the seabed and the
drilling rig is still attached on the surface we can
close the lower and release the upper to allow the
rig to deal with the surface emergency.

Trim: ............................... Prod H-H, Annulus E-E

Valve:.............................. API 6a Gate valves
Actuator Type:............... Hydraulic
Overrides: ..................... ROV Rotary
WHead Connector:....... MD-H4
Choke:............................ KI Stepping Type

Figure 48... Hydrate build up

Control Pod: .................. OS Multiplex Type

Wellhead System: ......... Heavy duty High capacity
Flowline Connector:...... 5-1/8

Hydrates are gas molecules encased in an ice shell

and where the seabed is soft they will rise to the
seabed. The ice melts and we then have frozen free
gas, as this gas rises towards the surface it can
get trapped by our Xmas tree or other parts. When
this happens it can cause a malfunction by freezing
moving parts as it forms into ice blocks.
In this case we are interested in preserving
production heat rather than allowing the tree
to freeze so as long as we have the well flowing
everything will be OK.
When hydrates are know to be present the drilling
rig will set a Mud-mat at seabed level this is a steel
plate that is larger than any equipment the will be
used or fitted above it.
Any hydrates will then have to migrate out towards
the plate edges then continue upwards outside
the equipment in a harmless fashion as the picture
below shows. This is about 3 meters above
the seabed.

Figure 47... Equipment Stack-up


Figure 51... Tree Thermal Insulation

Production Heat must be conserved at all costs

and this is why the areas that contain vital valves
and other parts have to be protected from the cold
ocean by a high strength and high efficiency epoxy
The seabed conditions in this case at 1200 meters will
be 2 degrees Centigrade and 1580. phi. The window
of time available to us to remedy any problem or take
action using chemicals to prevent the solidification
of the wax content of the oil is small only a few hours.
The temperature slices shown here illustrate how the
core temperature drops in a time frame of 12 hours.
It can be seen how all the heat has been lost and
a serious situation would exist. Although this has
never happened it illustrates the planning and
equipment design development and testing that has
to be done to let planning a recovery take place.

The Epoxy Foam Insulation as applied to the

Xmas tree block is 75 mm thick. This makes the
assembly of actuators and other components very
difficult as can be seen here.
The vulnerable part of the tree is the valve cavity
area that contains the sliding gates.
Solidified wax filling this will prevent the reopening of
the cooled valve that was closed in the hot condition
the actuators are not powerful enough to overcome
this condition.
The insulation will delay the point where it is
impossible for the valves to operate to somewhere in
the region of 57 hours but this may not be sufficient
to save a well and that would be a multi-million loss
in any currency.

Figure 49... Tree thermal profile (producing)

Before the Xmas tree can be approved for service.

To prove the strength of the casing it must be proof
tested using water at twice the operating pressure
for 5,000psi (10,000 test) and 1.5 times for higher
rated Xmas trees this is necessary since the casing
has no second barrier between the reservoir and
the ocean. A second functional test for valves,
actuators and choke is done with nitrogen gas at
the full rated pressure, and is held for one hour with
no bubbles permissible.

We use a floating production
system with off-take facilities
to take the oil to the customer

Figure 50... Tree thermal profile (cooling)


Figure 52... Tree deployment

Figure 53... Bonga FPSO

Here the Xmas tree is seen being lowered in to the

water by the drilling rig by its running tool this will
be hydraulically released after the tree is locked in
place and pressure tested.

take the contents and deliver them to a customer in

any part of the world.
All FPSOs are custom built and fitted for their
principal use but can be rebuilt for a second life at
a later date. This one has a capacity of 400,000
barrels ( x 42 = 1.68 million gallons.)

All that remains now is to connect the flow-line and

the control umbilical. In this case these will run from
a collecting, processing and exporting vessel called
a Floating Production Ship with Off-take facilities

Rising vertically up the ships side we can see the

risers that bring the high pressure oil from the
seabed. They are rigid at this stage but because we
are in deep water the vessel is held on station by
a series of thruster that are controlled by computer
that are taking constant information from a number
of satellites.

An FPSO is a complex vessel that accepts the

crude oil directly from the wells and separates it out
into oil gas and water. The oil will be stored within
a double skinned hull the gas will be used to power
all the on board systems and the water spun clean
in hydro-cyclone until it contains less than 40 parts
per million (PPM) in this condition it is cleaner than
the ocean so it can be put in there.

Below the hull, the risers will be flexible to allow for

the slight movement of the vessel and in the event
of a runaway they will drop and seal automatically
to prevent damage or spillage.

When the FPSOs tanks are full a large tanker will

moor behind it and using a hose connection will off-

Test Yourself


(a) What is the water depth?

(b) What is the problem we are addressing?
(c) How do we overcome this problem?
(d) Are there any other seabed hazards?
(e) How do we take the oil to the customer?
You will find the answer to Test Yourself 10 on page 51

Check Yourself...

All the answers to the Test Yourself questions.

Check Yourself 1

Check Yourself 6

(a) Fixed Platform

(b) Tension Leg Platform
(c) Subsea Development

(a) 1) Since the tubing hanger is run after the tree

is in place, a workover requiring the tubing to
be pulled can be achieved without recovering
the tree.
2) The tree and tubing hanger do not require a
purpose built completion riser system as the
tree can be run on drillpipe.
(b) One plug fits in the tubing hanger above the
horizontal passage. The second plug fits in the
Internal Tree Cap.
(c) Using a Cam Actuated Running Tool (CART)
run on a landing string.

Check Yourself 2
(a) The requirements for material, testing and
certifications for subsea equipment in general

Check Yourself 3
(a) Mandrel or Hub
(b) 7 Million pounds
(c) 3 Casing hangers
(d) Fits onto top of Blowout Preventer (BOP)

Check Yourself 7
(a) The landing string provides well control functions
and disconnection capabilities during well installation,
workover, intervention and well test operations on
wells with horizontal subsea Xmas trees.

Check Yourself 4
(a) Flowline and Umbilical
(b) Hydraulic pressure
(c) It suspends and seals the removable tubing
string inside the wellhead
(d) The IWOCS controls and monitors the
deployment, the operation and the retrieval of
subsea production equipment such as Tubing
Hangers, Landing Strings and Xmas Trees

Check Yourself 8
(a) 50 tons snag load
(b) To protect subsea production equipment
and fishing nets and gear

Check Yourself 9
(a) Suction legs
(b) A component that has a number of well centres
accurately incorporated into its structure.
(c) By pipeline

Check Yourself 5
(a) A verticle bore
(b) It provides a hydraulic link between the tree
functions and the Xmas tree control pod. This
enables the Xmas tree to be functioned by the
host platform.
(c) It is a device that regulates the flow from the
(d) To boost the pressure from the umbilical.

Check Yourself 10
(a) 1700 metres
(b) Wax
(c) Insulation
(d) Hydrates
(e) Floating production system
with off-take facilities (FPSO)

Subsea Equipment & Tools Summary...

Having studied the capital drilling and production equipment and tools you should have a grasp of
how these building blocks go together.
It is important to remember that every single part of the subsea system has to be able to perform
for the full field life without maintenance if necessary other than the removal of external debris such
fishing equipment or seabed damage.
Similar equipment is used for most subsea developments but will vary for increased pressure or
Oil Companies such as Shell and BP will apply some of their own standards above and beyond
those of the industry (API) ones. This will ensure that they take into account any specialities they
feel is necessary they just cost extra.