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DEEPWATER DRILLING AND PRODUCTION TECHNOLOGY

L. J . Snyder*

ABSTRACT

Offshore operations a r e moving p r o g r e s s i v e l y i n t o deeper water i n s e a r c h


of a d d l t l o n a l hydrocarbon r e s e r v e s . I n d u s t r y deepwater d r i l l l n g capability i s
revlewed, and t h e t r e n d of water depth d r i l l i n g r e c o r d s 1s p r e s e n t e d . S t a t u s
of deepwater production technology 1s a l s o d i s c u s s e d . I n particular, c u r r e n t
programs t o develop deepwater production p l a t f o r m s , subsea production systems,
pipelines, and o f f s h o r e terminals a r e emphaslzed.

INTRODUCTION

The s e a r c h f o r petroleum r e s e r v e s has I n c r e a s i n g l y been d i r e c t e d toward


t h e o f f s h o r e and, I n p a r t i c u l a r , t o deepwater o f f s h o r e p r o s p e c t s . A s a r e s u l t ,
a hlgh l e v e l of a c t i v l t y has been focused on development of t h e technology r e -
q u i r e d t o conduct d r i l l i n g and production o p e r a t i o n s i n deepwater. Thls paper
provides a b r i e f overview of t h e technology being developed f o r deepwater a p p l l -
c a t l o n s . An attempt w i l l be made t o i d e n t i f y g e n e r a l i n d u s t r y a c t i v i t y ; however,
developments i n whlch Exxon has had a d i r e c t involvement w i l l be emphaslzed.

A s our a b i l i t y t o o p e r a t e o f f s h o r e has evolved over t h e l a s t decade, t h e r e


has been a s t e a d y i n c r e a s e I n t h e water depth g e n e r a l l y considered a s deep water;
a t t h i s t u n e it i s suggested t h a t water depths beyond 600 f e e t be considered
'deepwater'. I n t h e s e water d e p t h s e x p l o r a t o r y d r i l l l n g 1s conducted from f l o a t -
l n g v e s s e l s , e l t h e r shipshape o r semlsubmersible. Production systems, however,
w i l l change a s water d e p t h increases beyond 600 f e e t . Platforms, guyed towers,
pipelines, o f f s h o r e t e r m i n a l s , and subsea production systems should a l l f i n d
a p p l i c a t i o n s . S e l e c t i o n o f a s p e c i f l c system configuration w i l l depend primarily
on water d e p t h , but p r o s p e c t c h a r a c t e r l s t i c s , d i s t a n c e from s h o r e , and t h e en-
vironmental c o n d i t i o n s w l l l a l s o have an impact on t h e system.

EXPLORATORY DRILLING

The i n c r e a s e o f deepwater d r i l l i n g a c t i v i t i e s (ly2)during t h e p a s t 1 0 y e a r s


1s I n d i c a t e d i n Figure 1. Through 1976 i n d u s t r y has d r i l l e d 132 w e l l s I n water
depths g r e a t e r t h a n 600 f e e t , f o r t y - s i x of t h e s e were d r i l l e d by Exxon. I n water
depths beyond 1000 f e e t , 58 w e l l s have been d r i l l e d ; of t h e s e , Exxon has d r l l l e d 25
w e l l s . The t r e n d toward deepwater e x p l o r a t i o n i s a l s o i n d i c a t e d i n Figure 2 which
shows t h e water depth r e c o r d f o r e x p l o r a t o r y d r i l l i n g . Exxon d r i l l e d t h e f i r s t
deepwater well o f f C a l i f o r n i a I n 1965 and established water depth r e c o r d s through
1970 d r i l l i n g i n t h e Santa Barbara Channel. S h e l l extended t h e water depth r e c o r d
beyond 2000 f e e t i n 1973 and 1974 using t h e SEDCO 445 t o d r l l l o f f Gabon. The
*
Exxon Production Research Company, Houston, Texas
c u r r e n t l n d u s t r y water d e p t h r e c o r d w a s e s t a b l i s h e d i n October 1976 when Esso
Exploration d r l l l e d a w e l l i n 3460 f e e t i n t h e Andaman Sea O f f s h o r e T h a i l a n d . ( 3 )
A t t h l s t l m e seven r l g s a r e c u r r e n t l y operating which have t h e c a p a b i l i t y t o d r i l l
I n 3000 f e e t of water and more t h a n 1 0 o t h e r r i g s a r e under c o n s t r u c t i o n w i t h t h a t
capability. We a n t l c l p a t e t h i s y e a r r i g s w l l l b e completed which a r e c a p a b l e of
d r l l l i n g I n water d e p t h s t o 5000 f e e t and, based on t h i s r i g a v a l l a b l l l t y , t h e
water d e p t h r e c o r d f o r e x p l o r a t o r y d r i l l i n g may r e a c h 5000 f e e t by 1980.

F i g u r e 3 d e p l c t s DISCOVERER 534, one o f t h e l a r g e s t and newest o f t h e deep-


w a t e r v e s s e l s . B u l l t by t h e Offshore Company t o o p e r a t e f o r Esso E x p l o r a t l o n , I n c . ,
she has a l e n g t h o f 534 f e e t and a beam of 80 f e e t . T h i s l a r g e s i z e p e r m i t s pro-
longed deepwater o p e r a t i o n s I n remote a r e a s . The v e s s e l w i l l house more t h a n 1 0 0
people and can c r u i s e a t about 1 2 k n o t s . Principle f e a t u r e s o f t h e DISCOVERER 534
d r i l l i n g system a r e shown s c h e m a t i c a l l y i n F l g u r e 4. The v e s s e l i s equipped w l t h
b o t h a c o n v e n t i o n a l h a r d l i n e mooring system and a dynamic p o s l t l o n i n g system.
Generally t h e mooring system w i l l be used i n s h a l l o w e r w a t e r , and t h e dynamic
p o s l t l o n i n g system w l l l be used i n deeper w a t e r . The d r i l l i n g r i s e r i s equlpped
w i t h a l r - f i l l e d buoyancy cans t o supplement shipboard r i s e r tensioning equipment
n e c e s s a r y t o s u p p o r t t h e weight o f t h e r i s e r . The r l s e r c o n t a i n s a n i n s t r u m e n t
package t o monitor s t r e s s e s i n t h e r i s e r , a s w e l l a s c e r t a i n d r i l l l n g p a r a m e t e r s ,
and a mud-discharge system t o a l l o w mud t o be r e l e a s e d a t t h e s e a f l o o r i f r e q u l r e d
I n w e l l - c o n t r o l p r o c e d u r e s . F i n a l l y , DISCOVERER 534 h a s a modern blowout p r e v e n t e r
s t a c k t h a t 1s equipped w l t h an e l e c t r o - h y d r a u l i c c o n t r o l system t o reduce t h e t l m e
r e q u i r e d t o c l o s e a p r e v e n t e r l n t h e e v e n t o f a n emergency.

Deepwater r i g s a r e expensive because o f t h e n s i z e , advanced equipment, crew


r e q u i r e m e n t s , and m o b l l l t y . A deepwater d r i l l s h l p i s e s t i m a t e d t o c o s t more t h a n
$ 5 0 ~ ~ Operating
. c o s t s w i l l be about $100,000 p e r day, o r more.

DEEPWATER PLATFORMS

A f t e r a n 011 d i s c o v e r y t h e n e x t s t e p I n f i e l d development i s t o d e s l g n ,
fabricate and i n s t a l l a system t o produce t h e f i e l d . To d a t e commercial d l s -
c o v e r l e s have been l l m l t e d t o w a t e r d e p t h s o u t t o about 1000 f e e t . I n t h e s e w a t e r
d e p t h s a n e x t e n s i o n o f technology f o r s h a l l o w w a t e r o p e r a t i o n s can b e u t i l l z e d t o
develop a f i e l d as shown i n F l g u r e 5 . Development d r i l l i n g and p r o d u c t i o n opera-
t i o n s a r e conducted from t h e deck of t h e p l a t f o r m . O i l and g a s a r e t r a n s p o r t e d t o
market t h r o u g h a p i p e l l n e t o s h o r e . I n some l o c a t i o n s , where f i e l d s a r e a l o n g
d i s t a n c e from s h o r e o r from e x l s t i n g g l p e l l n e networks, an o f f s h o r e s t o r a g e and
t e r m i n a l l i n g system c a n be used f o r t r a n s p o r t a t i o n o f o i l t o market. Offshore
t e r m i n a l s a r e a l s o sometimes used on a temporary b a s l s i n o r d e r t o i n i t i a t e pro-
d u c t l o n b e f o r e a p i p e l i n e 1 s completed.

The Hondo p l a t f o r m , whlch was r e c e n t l y installed by Exxon i n 850 f e e t o f


water I n t h e S a n t a Ba ra Channel, e s t a b l i s h e d a new water d e p t h r e c o r d f o r
product l o n p l a t forms. $'? I n p l a c e , t h e s t r u c t u r e s t a n d s 945 f e e t t a l l from t h e
s e a f l o o r t o t h e d r l l l i n g deck. T h i s p l a t f o r m t y p i f i e s t h e c u r r e n t s t a t e of t h e
a r t . To d e s i g n t h i s s t r u c t u r e , Exxon developed s o p h l s t l c a t e d t e c h n i q u e s t o
a n a l y z e dynamlc r e s p o n s e o f t h e p l a t f o r m when it i s s u b j e c t e d t o c y c l i c wave l o a d s
and earthquake f o r c e s . ( 5 ) Research on f a t i g u e p r o p e r t l e s o f t u b u l a r members w a s
a l s o incorporated I n improved j o i n t d e s i g n s f o r t h e s t r u c t u r e .
Figure 6 shows t h e p l a t f o r m d u r i n g f i n a l s t a g e s of fabrication. The
j a c k e t a l o n e weighs 12,000 t o n s ; t h e t o t a l s t r u c t u r e including p l l i n g , con- ,
d u c t o r s and decks weighs about 23,000 t o n s and c o s t s $ 7 7 ~ ~The . platform
had t o be t r a n s p o r t e d t o l o c a t i o n i n two s e c t i o n s s l n c e it was s l g n l f i c a n t l y
longer t h a n could be accommodated on e x i s t i n g launch barges. The s t r u c t u r e
has a base dimension of 170 ft x 232 f t . The s l z e o f t h e s t r u c t u r e i s e v l -
dent i n Figure 7 which shows t h e lower s e c t i o n p a s s l n g under t h e San Francisco-
Oakland Bay b r i d g e durlng t h e tow t o l o c a t l o n from t h e f a b r l c a t l o n s i t e i n
Oakland, C a l i f o r n i a . A method was developed t o j o l n t h e two s e c t l o n s o f f s h o r e
i n a s h e l t e r e d s i t e i n t h e S a n t a Barbara Channel. Alignment cones shown I n
Flgure 8 were used t o I n s u r e proper alignment during t h e j o i n i n g o p e r a t i o n .
Once t h e two s e c t l o n s were mated, mechanical connectors were a c t u a t e d t o j o i n
them. Welders were t h e n lowered i n s i d e t h e main l e g s t o provide a welded con-
n e c t i o n . The two s e c t i o n s were a t t a c h e d t o mooring barges a s shown I n Figure 9
durlng t h e j o i n i n g o p e r a t i o n . A f t e r j o i n i n g , t h e s t r u c t u r e was towed t o t h e
i n s t a l l a t i o n s l t e , u p r i g h t e d u s i n g c o n t r o l l e d buoyancy, and s e t on bottom.
Flgure 1 0 shows t h e Hondo p l a t f o r m w i t h t h e deck modules, q u a r t e r s and f l a r e
boom I n p l a c e .

S h e l l has announced p l a n s t o i n s t a l l a p l a t f o r m i n about 1020 f e e t of


water on t h e Cognac prospect i n t h e Gulf of Mexico. ( 6 ) The Cognac p l a t f o r m w ~ l l
be fabricated i n t h r e e p i e c e s t h a t w i l l be joined I n t h e f i e l d v e r t i c a l l y . Fab-
r i c a t l o n of t h e base i s n e a r l y complete, and i n s t a l l a t i o n i s planned t h i s y e a r .
Fabrication and i n s t a l l a t i o n of t h e upper two s e c t i o n s should be completed I n
1978. Technically, f i x e d p l a t f o r m s could be extended t o even deeper water
applications, however, it i s expected t h a t t h e economlc l i m l t of such s t r u c t u r e s
w i l l be reached i n about 1000 f e e t of water.

GUYED TOWERS

Exxon has developed t h e guyed tower ( 7 ~ ~ 3 f9o)r a p p l i c a t i o n i n depths o u t


t o about 2000 f e e t . As indicated i n Flgure 11, t h e guyed tower provides t h e same
capability t o support d r i l l l n g and production operations a s a conventional p l a t -
form. 011 could be t r a n s p o r t e d t o market e l t h e r uslng p i p e l i n e s o r u s l n g an
o f f s h o r e t e r m i n a l . Selection of t h e t r a n s p o r t a t i o n system would be based p r i m a r i l y
on economic c o n s i d e r a t i o n s ; I n deeper water o p e r a t i o n s it may be more l l k e l y t h a t
an o f f s h o r e t e r m i n a l would be u t i l i z e d .

The guyed tower concept 1s I l l u s t r a t e d i n F i g u r e 1 2 . The guyed tower i s


permitted t o comply, o r move s l i g h t l y , w i t h t h e waves r a t h e r t h a n r i g i d l y r e s l s t l n g
t h e a p p l l e d l o a d s l i k e a conventional p l a t f o r m does. The tower has a constant c r o s s -
s e c t l o n and i s h e l d u p r i g h t by s e v e r a l g u y l l n e s t h a t r u n through swiveling f a l r l e a d s
t o clump weights on t h e ocean f l o o r . The l i n e s extend t o conventional anchors from
t h e clump weights. Under normal operating conditions, t h e clump weights remain on
t h e ocean f l o o r and deck motion w i l l be v i r t u a l l y i m p e r c e p t i b l e . Durlng a s e v e r e
storm t h e welghts come o f f bottom, permitting t h e tower and g u y l i n e s t o absorb t h e
l a r g e r environmental l o a d s . The motion of t h e tower i s small enough t o permit
s t a n d a r d p l a t f o r m d r i l l i n g and producing o p e r a t i o n s , b u t 1s l a r g e enough t o s i g n l f l -
c a n t l y reduce t h e e f f e c t of t h e a p p l i e d wave f o r c e s . I n a deslgn storm t h e tower
deflection could approach 2 degrees, but t h e motlon would be w e l l w l t h i n human
tolerance llmits for seas~ckness.
Because t h e moorlng l l n e s r e s i s t h o r i z o n t a l l o a d s imposed by t h e
environment, no p l l e s a r e r e q u l r e d t o provide s t a b i l i t y t o t h e s t r u c t u r e .
I n s t e a d of p l l e s , t h e guyed tower r e s t s on a b l u n t bearing foundation c a l l e d
a spud can. Well conductors p e n e t r a t e t h e spud can and f l e x s l i g h t l y a s t h e
tower p l v o t s . A s long a s t h e tower i s i n about 600 f e e t of water o r more,
conductor bending s t r a i n s a r e w i t h i n a c c e p t a b l e l i m i t s . By eliminating p l l e s
and reduclng t h e t o t a l tonnage of s t r u c t u r a l s t e e l , t h e guyed tower 1s a very
cost-effective a l t e r n a t i v e f o r deepwater o p e r a t i o n s .

Exxon i s conducting a 1 : 5 s c a l e model t e s t o f a guyed tower designed f o r


1500 f e e t of water and North Sea environmental c o n d i t i o n s . Eleven o t h e r companies
a r e p a r t l c i p a t l n g i n t h e t e s t . The t e s t s t r u c t u r e , shown i n Figure 1 3 and F l g u r e
14 i s I n s t a l l e d i n 300 f e e t of water i n t h e Gulf of Mexico. Instruments contln-
uously record s e v e r a l s t r u c t u r a l and environmental parameters. Installation of
t h e t e s t tower has v e r i f i e d many of t h e procedures and t e c h n i q u e s t h a t would be
employed i n a f u l l - s c a l e a p p l i c a t i o n . Analysis of d a t a t a k e n d u r i n g t h e 1975-76
w i n t e r season has confirmed t h e applicability of t h e guyed tower f o r o i l f l e l d
developments i n water depths t o 2000 f e e t .

DEEPWATER PIPELINES

Extension of p i p e l a y i n g capability t o deepwater w i l l be r e q u i r e d w i t h


e l t h e r p l a t f o r m o r guyed tower developments. A n m b e r of companies have been
Involved I n evaluating concepts f o r deepwater p i p e l a y i n g . I n some i n s t a n c e s
cooperative programs have been conducted t o develop technology. For example,
S h e l l i s c o o r d i n a t i n g a g e n e r a l deepwater p l p e l i n e technology s t u d y ( l O ) ; EPR
and HydroTech have completed a study t o develop deepwater p i p e l l n e r e p a i r
t e c h n o l o g y ( l l ) , and Mobil has proposed a f i e l d t e s t of a deepwater f l o w l l n e
i n s t a l l a t i o n method.

For water depths o u t t o 2000 f e e t , conventlonal p i p e l a y i n g operations can


probably be u t i l i z e d . The Semac I l a y b a r g e , shown i n Flgure 1 5 , has t h e capa-
b l l i t y t o l a y l a r g e diameter l p e l i n e s i n water depths t o 1500 f e e t o r more.
Semac I has been c o n s t r u c t e d 712) as h j o i n t v e n t u r e of Exxon, S h e l l and Zapata
and i s c u r r e n t l y preparing t o i n i t l a t e c o n s t r u c t i o n of t h e Brent gas l l n e I n t h e
North Sea. The barge i s 430 f e e t l o n g , 180 f e e t wide and has an o p e r a t i n g d r a f t
of 45 f e e t . It i s equipped w l t h a wide-truss s t r l n g e r and a conventlonal mooring
system. Other " t h l r d generation" l a y b a r g e s i n c l u d e t h e Vlking P i p e r , t h e Castro
V I and t h e BAR 347. Operating c o s t s f o r t h e s e l a r g e barges, w i t h spreads, w l l l
be i n t h e range of $300,000 t o $400,000 p e r o p e r a t i n g day.

For p i p e l a y i n g i n water depths s i g n i f i c a n t l y beyond 1500 f e e t , modifica-


t i o n s must be made t o t h e laybarge p i p e l a y system. One reason f o r t h i s i s t h a t
t h e t e n s l o n r e q u i r e d t o prevent t h e p i p e from buckling over t h e end of t h e
s t i n g e r becomes excessive. An a l t e r n a t i v e approach i s t o u s e an i n c l i n e d ramp
a s shown i n Figure 1 6 i n s t e a d of a s t i n g e r . Havlng t h e p i p e come down t h e near-
v e r t i c a l ramp smooths o u t t h e geometry of t h e suspended p o r t i o n of t h e p i p e l i n e ,
whlch, I n t u r n , reduces t e n s i o n requirements. The l n c l i n e d ramp can extend water
depths f o r l a y i n g p i p e from a laybarge t o 3000 f e e t o r more.
P i p e p u l l methods o f f e r an a l t e r n a t i v e t o t h e use of laybarges t o i n s t a l l
p l p e l l n e s . Uslng p u l l methods, long s e c t l o n s of pipelines a r e assembled on
s h o r e , p u l l e d t o l o c a t i o n , a l i g n e d , and joined a s l n d l c a t e d s c h e m a t i c a l l y i n
Figure 17. There a r e f o u r b a s l c methods, and each method i s c u r r e n t l y r e -
c e l v l n g attention. The f o u r methods a r e t h e bottom-pull, t h e near-bottom p u l l ,
t h e s u r f a c e p u l l , and t h e near-surface p u l l . F i e l d t e s t of t h e bottom p u l l
method (conducted by ~ o b l l()1 3 ) and t h e s u r f a c e and near-surface p u l l methods
(conducted by t h e CFP) ( 1 4 ) have demonstrated b a s i c f e a s i b i l i t y of t h e methods.
I n f a c t , t h e t e s t s i n d i c a t e d t h a t s e c t l o n s of p l p e s e v e r a l m l l e s long could be
p u l l e d I n rough North Sea weather. Connection o f t h e s e p i p e s e c t i o n s once they
a r e on l o c a t l o n remalns a s l g n l f i c a n t t e c h n i c a l c h a l l e n g e i n deepwater.

OFFSHORE PRODUCTION TERMINALS

Offshore production t e r m l n a l s a r e being widely u t i l l z e d i n t h e development


of o i l f i e l d s I n shallow water, and it i s expected t h a t such t e r m l n a l s w i l l pro-
v i d e an economically a t t r a c t i v e t r a n s p o r t a t i o n system i n many deepwater a p p l i c a t i o n s .
The b a s l c technology i s a n e x t e n s i o n of s i n g l e p o i n t moorings developed f o r near-
shore r e f l n e r y and/or export t e r m i n a l s . The s i n g l e anchor l e g mooring (SAM) shown
schematically i n Flgure 1 8 i s a n example of su h e r m i n a l s . The f l r s t SAM, whlch
was developed by Exxon Research & Engineering T15?, was i n s t a l l e d a t Marsa E l Brega,
Libya i n 1969. The c r i t l c a l components i n t h e SAM, i . e . , t h e u n i v e r s a l j o i n t s
and hoses a t t h e base of t h e r i s e r and t h e f l u i d swivel j o i n t s t he t o p o f t h e
r i s e r were i n s e r v l c e f i v e y e a r s wlthout r e q u i r i n g replacement. f16? I n t h i s i n -
s t a l l a t i o n , crude o i l 1s pumped from onshore s t o r a g e through t h e SALM base connec-
t i o n , up t h e r i s e r , t h e n i n t o t h e t a n k e r through a f l o a t i n g hose. The t a n k e r i s
a t t a c h e d t o t h e mooring buoy w l t h a hawser. A t a SAM t h e v e s s e l can weathervane,
o r r o t a t e 360 d e g r e e s , t o malntain a headlng I n t o t h e s e a s . Thls a b l l l t y t o
weathervane s u b s t a n t i a l l y reduces t h e environmental l o a d s on t h e t a n k e r t h a t must
be r e s i s t e d by t h e mooring.

The technology f o r o f f s h o r e t e r m l n a l s i s c u r r e n t l y undergoing a p e r i o d of


r a p i d development a s a number of concepts a r e being a p p l i e d throughout t h e world.
(17,18) I n rough weather environments it 1s a n t i c i p a t e d t h a t a r i g l d moorlng yoke
would be used t o r e p l a c e a hawser f o r mooring t h e t a n k e r . Model t e s t s have shown
t h a t a r i g i d arm reduces mooring f o r c e s by c o n t r o l l i n g v e s s e l yaw and it a l s o
provldes a hard-pipe f l u i d conductor t o eliminate t h e f l o a t l n g hose. Figure 1 9
shows such a s i n g l e p o l n t mooring i n s t a l l e d I n Aqultane's A s h t a r t f i e l d i n 220
f e e t of water o f f T u n l s i a . S e v e r a l o f f s h o r e t e r m i n a l s a r e now planned f o r North
Sea installations i n about 500 f e e t of water, and extension of t h i s technology t o
water depths of 1500 t o 2000 f e e t appears t o be r e l a t i v e l y s t r a i g h t f o r w a r d .

SUBSEA PRODUCTION SYSTEMS

I n water depths s u b s t a n t i a l l y beyond 2000 f e e t it i s expected t h a t a subsea


production system w i l l be r e q u i r e d f o r f i e l d development. Figure 20 shows t h e
i n t e g r a t e d deepwater production system c u r r e n t l y being developed by Exxon. ( 1 9 )
I n t h i s system t h e w e l l s and production manifold a r e l o c a t e d on t h e s e a f l o o r
template. P i p e l i n e s connect t h e template t o a production r l s e r and f l o a t i n g
production and s t o r a g e f a c l l l t y . S p e c i a l high reliability components and t e c h n i q u e s
have been used throughout t h e system t o mlnlmize equipment malfunctions. Wells
a r e malntalned by use of t o o l s pumped down through t h e p i p i n g o r by v e r t i c a l r e -
e n t r y uslng a d r i l l s h l p . The s e a f l o o r equipment i s designed i n modules w h ~ c hcan
be r e p l a c e d using an unmanned s p e c i a l purpose maintenance manipulator operated
from a r e l a t i v e l y small s u r f a c e support v e s s e l . Producing o p e r a t i o n s w i l l be
c o n t r o l l e d remotely from t h e s u r f a c e f a c i l i t y . The c o n t r o l system i n c o r p o r a t e s
a s a f e t y shutdown f e a t u r e which w i l l a u t o m a t i c a l l y shut-in a l l w e l l s i f abnormal
o p e r a t i o n s occur. A l l equipment i s designed f o r installation and o p e r a t i o n with-
o u t t h e u s e of d i v e r s o r manned submersibles. The system can provide f o r a l l
producing operations from discovery t o abandonment of an o f f s h o r e f i e l d i n c l u d i n g
gas l l f t of w e l l s and gas and water i n j e c t i o n .

Flgure 21 i l l u s t r a t e s t h e s e a f l o o r template i n more d e t a i l . C l u s t e r e d


w e l l s a r e d r l l l e d d i r e c t i o n a l l y through t h e template i n t h e w e l l bay a r e a , and
a r e connected d l r e c t l y t o a manifold by s p e c i a l l y designed subsea Christmas
t r e e s . The w e l l s , t h e manifold, and t h e p i p e l i n e connectors a r e covered by
" i n v e r t e d d r i p pans" which p r o t e c t t h e equipment from s m a l l , dropped o b j e c t s
and whlch can c o l l e c t and d e t e c t hydrocarbons i n t h e u n l i k e l y event t h a t a l e a k
should occur. The template can a l s o i n c l u d e a pump/separator s t a t i o n . A l l of
t h e equlpment t o be maintained by t h e manipulator i s l o c a t e d w i t h i n r e a c h of a
manipulator t r a c k . The template i t s e l f provides t h e s t r u c t u r e r e q u i r e d t o sup-
p o r t t h e equipment and t h e buoyancy r e q u i r e d f o r i n s t a l l a t i o n .

Exxon i s c u r r e n t l y conducting a f i e l d t e s t o f t h e subsea production system


( 2 0 ) i n 170 f e e t o f water i n t h e Gulf o f Mexico a t West D e l t a Block 73. Flgure 22
shows t h e s e a f l o o r template on i t s way o f f s h o r e . This u n i t was assembled and
e x t e n s i v e l y t e s t e d on l a n d b e f o r e going o f f s h o r e . On l o c a t i o n , t h e t e m p l a t e was
launched a s shown i n Figure 23. The t e m p l a t e was t h e n keelhauled under a d r i l l s h i p
and lowered t o bottom on a nylon hawser. It was f i x e d t o t h e bottom by p i l e s which
were d r i l l e d and grouted i n p l a c e . The p i l o t t e s t i n c l u d e s a t h r e e - w e l l t e m p l a t e ,
pipelines, a subsea pump s t a t i o n and a production r i s e r . Test o p e r a t i o n s a r e sup-
p o r t e d from a nearby p l a t f o r m . Operations a r e being conducted u s i n g procedures
and equipment s u i t a b l e f o r deepwater a p p l i c a t i o n .

The maintenance manlpulator(21) i s i l l u s t r a t e d i n Figure 24. Using one of


i t s two end e f f e c t o r s , o r work t o o l s , t h e manipulator can remove a malfunctioning
equipment module and i n s t a l l a replacement module t h a t i s s t o r e d on t h e t o o l r a c k .
The maintenance o p e r a t i o n i s c o n t r o l l e d by an o p e r a t o r on t h e s u r f a c e u s i n g e i g h t
TV cameras mounted on t h e manipulator t o view t h e work a r e a . F i g u r e 25 shows
t h e manipulator d u r i n g one of s e v e r a l r e c e n t deployments. A s e r i e s of s u c c e s s f u l
maintenance o p e r a t i o n s have demonstrated(22) t h e a b i l l t y t o accomplish both
r o u t i n e maintenance t a s k s planned f o r I n t h e system design and unexpected main-
tenance t a s k s which were not a n t i c i p a t e d during t h e d e s i g n .

To d a t e Exxon has i n v e s t e d over 300 man-years of r e s e a r c h and development


e f f o r t and about $ 6 0 i~n ~developing t h e SPS system. Many o f t h e t e s t o b j e c t i v e s
have a l r e a d y been achieved during i n s t a l l a t i o n and checkout. I n s t a l l a t i o n o f t h e
p i l o t t e s t u n i t i s e s s e n t i a l l y complete; o n l y t h e production r i s e r remains t o be
i n s t a l l e d t h i s y e a r . System checkout i s i n p r o g r e s s and production has been
i n i t i a t e d . Experience from t h i s f i e l d t e s t w i l l s i g n i f i c a n t l y advance t h e de-
velopment of t h i s deepwater production system.

S e v e r a l o t h e r subsea production systems a r e c u r r e n t l y under development.


Both t h e Lockheed and Comex-Seal systems have been f i e l d t e s t e d o f f s h o r e . The
Lockheed system( 23 ) i s deslgned t o u s e s t a n d a r d o i l f l e l d equlpment enclosed i n
d r y , atmospheric-pressure chambers ( s e e Figure 26) t h a t permlt manned i n t e r v e n t i o n
f o r l n s t a l l a t l o n and maintenance i n a " s h i r t - s l e e v e " environment. A t e s t pro-
gram i s now underway i n t h e Gulf of Mexico. The f i r s t s a t e l l i t e w e l l enclosed i n
a chamber has been producing t o a p l a t f o r m f o r over f o u r y e a r s . Two s l m i l a r
s a t e l l l t e w e l l s have been producing t o a chamber-enclosed s e a f l o o r manifold
c e n t e r and, I n t u r n , t o a nearby p l a t f o r m s l n c e September 1976. Lockheed has
I n s t a l l e d two o t h e r d r y , enclosed s a t e l l l t e w e l l s i n t h e Gulf of Mexlco, and 1 s
now f a b r i c a t i n g nlne s a t e l l i t e w e l l chambers and a manifold c e n t e r f o r P e t r o b r a s .

.Cornex-Seal i s developing both a d r y , atmospheric, c l u s t e r e d w e l l system


t h a t r e q u i r e s manned l n t e r v e n t i o n f o r maintenance, ( 24 ) and a wet s a t e l l l t e well
completion system(25 ) deslgned f o r remote, d i v e r l e s s maintenance w i t h manned
l n t e r v e n t i o n back-up capability f o r s e r v i c i n g t h e master valve package ( s e e
Flgure 2 7 ) . Simulated operational t e s t s of t h e c l u s t e r e d w e l l system, which
could a l s o s e r v e a s a manifold chamber f o r s a t e l l i t e completions, were completed
durlng 1974 I n t h e Gulf of Mexico. The f l r s t commercial t e s t of t h e s a t e l l i t e
completion on a l i v e w e l l 1s c u r r e n t l y underway i n t h e North Sea.

I n a d d i t i o n , s e v e r a l o t h e r c o n t r a c t o r s have developed wet subsea s a t e l l i t e


completlons of varying complexity f o r installation i n numerous l o c a t i o n s . Most
of t h e s e r e q u i r e d i v e r a s s i s t e d maintenance but r e c e n t designs a r e c l o s e t o
achieving d i v e r l e s s remote i n s t a l l a t i o n and maintenance.

Considerable a t t e n t i o n i s now being focused on u t l l i z l n g subsea completlons


supported by a semlsubmersible d r l l l i n g v e s s e l o r ' p l a t f o r m ' t o provide e a r l y pro-
duction c a p a b i l i t y o r t o o f f e r minimum c o s t development f o r marginal f i e l d s .
The system i n s t a l l e d by Hamilton t o develop t h e A r g y l l f l e l d l n t h e North Sea ( 2 6 )
uses t h i s approach and SEDCO-Hamilton and t h e AKER Group a r e among t h e many
companies c u r r e n t l y developing t h i s system concept. A s i m l l a r system proposed
by Deep O i l Technology, t h e t e n s i o n l e g p l a t f o r m ( s e e Flgure 28), i s placed above
subsea w e l l s and provldes support f o r d r i l l l n g and production f a c i l i t i e s . A model
of t h e DOT t e n s i o n l e g p l a t f o r m was t e s t e d I n 1975 o f f s h o r e California.

Thls review of c u r r e n t l n d u s t r y a c t i v l t y i n d i c a t e s t h e i n c r e a s e i n deep-


water e x p l o r a t o r y d r l l l i n g . The development of deepwater production technology
i s a l s o proceeding a t a r a p i d pace, and deepwater production systems should
become available on a schedule compatible w i t h c u r r e n t e x p l o r a t i o n p l a n s . Costs
of o p e r a t i n g i n deepwater w i l l be high and t h e time r e q u i r e d t o develop a f i e l d
I n deepwater w i l l be s u b s t a n t i a l . It i s expected, however, t h a t t h e exploration
a c t i v l t l e s I n deepwater f r o n t i e r a r e a s w i l l l e a d t o s l g n i f l c a n t r e s e r v e additions.

A d e t a l l e d comparlson o f t h e v a r i o u s deepwater productlon systems i s beyond


t h e scope of t h i s paper. Undoubtedly many t e c h n o l o g i c a l developments not described
h e r e i n w l l l c o n t r i b u t e t o t h e development o f deepwater f i e l d s . It 1 s a l s o recog-
nlzed t h a t t h e v a r i o u s system components w i l l be t a i l o r e d t o f i t development require-
ments of s p e c l f l c p r o s p e c t s . For ~ n s t a n c e , subsea productlon systems w i l l f i n d .
a p p l i c a t i o n s i n shallow water t o extend f i e l d development beyond t h e a r e a l r e a c h of
a s i n g l e platform. The i n t e n t of t h i s review of deepwater technology i s simply t o
provide an overview o f t h e technology belng developed f o r f u t u r e a p p l i c a t i o n s i n
offshore operations.
REFERENCES

1 . LeBl anc, Leonard, "Deepwater Report", Offshore, June 1976, pp 58-67.

2. Simmons, J. D., "Exxon Discloses I t s Experience i n Deepwater D r i l l i n g


Worldwide," Offshore, May 1976, pp 200-209.
3. "World, Europe Deepwater-Drilling Records Set", O i l and Gas Journal,
February 7, 1977, p 34.

4. Bardgette, J. S., "Construction o f t h e Hondo Platform i n 850 Feet of


Water i n t h e Santa Barbara Channel", 1977 OTC, Paper No. 2959,
May. 4, 1977.

5. Delflache, M. L., Glasscock, M. S., Hayes, D. A,, and Wildenstein, A. W.,


"Design o f t h e Hondo P l a t f o r m f o r 850 Feet Water Depth i n t h e Santa
Barbara Channelt1, 1977 OTC, Paper No. 2960, May 4, 1977.

6. "World's Deepest-Water Platforms Due i n G u l f " , O i l and Gas Journal,


September 23, 1974, p 102.

7. Pierce, D. M., "Exxon's Deepwater Guyed Tower", Ocean Eogineering,


February 15, 1976.

8. Finn, L. D., "A New Deepwater Offshore P l a t f o r m - The Guyed Tower",


1976 OTC, Paper No. 7688.

9. Chuck, F., "Compl i a n t Tower Approach t o Deepwater Platforms" , 1976


Annual Meeting o f Production Department o f t h e A P I .

10. Broussard, D. E., "Deepwater Pipe-Laying Research Under Way", O i l and


Gas Journal, June 2, 1975, pp 117-122.

11 . B l ine, D. B. and McDonald, W. M. , "Development o f an Unmanned Deepwater


P i pel i n e Repair System", 1976 OTC, Paper No. 2681 .
12. Rohmaller, P. L., "A P i p e l a y I D e r r i c k Barge Designed f o r Rough Seas",
1976 OTC, Paper 2509.

13. Ewing, R. C., "Marine Pipe1 i n e F r o n t i e r s Disappear", O i l and Gas Journal ,


January 12, 1976, pp 65-70.

14.. -."Surface Tow o f Sixteen-Inch Pipe i n North Sea Proves Successful " ,
Ocean I n d u s t r y , November 1976, p 98.

15. F l o r y , J. F. and Poranski, P. F., "'The Design o f S i n g l e P o i n t


Moorings", 1977 OTC, Paper 2827.
16. Synodis, S. T. and F l o r y , J. F., " S i x Years Experience a t t h e Brega
S i n g l e Anchor Leg Mooringtt, OTC 1977, Paper 2824.
17. Dan l e ? , 0. and Van H e i j s t W . J., "Two Years Experience With t h e
B!S , 1976 OTC, Paper 2122.
18. F i l son, J. J., " S i n g l e - P o i n t Mooring U n i t s Analyzed", O i l and Gas
Journal , September 2, 1974, pp 47-51 .
S c o t t , R. W., "How Hurnbl e Plans t o Produce O i 1 i n t h e Santa Barbara
Channel " , World O i 1 , December 1970.

C h i l d e r s , T. W., e t a l , "Test o f a Submerged Production System -


Progress Report, SPE-6075, October 1976.

Rullman, J. D., e t a l , "Manipulator Maintenance of Subsea Equipment -


A Subsystem o f t h e Submerged Production System1', 1976 OTC, Paper 2527.
Burkhardt, J. A. and Anderson, R. E., "Submerged Production System -
Progress Report o f Offshore P i l o t Test", 1977 OTC.

Fahlman, G. H. , "Safety C h a r a c t e r i s t i c s o f Lockheed's Subsea P r o d u c t i o n


System", 1 974 OTC , Paper 2089.

Chatas, A. T., e t a1 , " A P r a c t i c a l A p p l i c a t i o n o f a Subsea O i l


Production System", SPE-5600, September 1975.

Massad, A. H., "Production t o S t a r t from Subsea Wellhead Completion


i n B e r y l Fie1d" , O i 1 and Gas Journal , June 28, 1976.

Tankers1 ey, Don, " A r g y l l I s I n n o v a t i v e Production R i s e r System",


P e t r o l eum Engineer , October 1975.
INDUSTRY EXPERIENCE IN DEEPWATER
WELLS IN WATER DEEPER WELLS I N WATER DEEPER
YEAR T H A N 600 F T T H A N 1000 F T

1965

1966

1967

1968

1969

1970

1971

1972

1973

1974

1975

1976, AUG

FIGURE 1
INDUSTRY DEEPWATER DRILLING EXPERIENCE

WATER DEPTH RECORDS


FOR OFFSHORE DRILLING OPERATIONS
YEAR
1975 1976

USA
SBC

SHELL
GABON
-
2290'
SHELL
GABON

-
3460
EXXON
THAILAND

FIGURE 2
TREND O F EXPLORATORY DRILLING DEPTH RECORD