• Fixed drilling and production platforms and facilities needs

  • Subsea completion needs

  • Subsea pipeline needs

Environmental needs include baseline studies for environmental impact statements and quantification of the effects of oil and gas operations on the environment. These tasks require methods and instrumentation to measure several parameters such as the concentration of chemical compounds in the atmosphere, seawater, and seafloor sediment over representative periods of time. The amount of nutrients available and the size of coral, fish, shellfish, and mammal populations in the area and their fluctuations over time must also be documented. The methods and instrumentation used to establish baseline data are available now. The challenge is to design and install these systems to survive in the ocean over the required periods, providing continuous monitoring and data recording and transmission.

Drilling from a floating platform requires several unique abilities, including (1) accurate monitoring and forecasting of weather, sea state, and currents; (2) adequate mooring and station-keeping technology (including location and real-time monitoring of the bottom hole and use of global positioning systems and dynamic positioning for the surface platform); and (3) adequate methods to separate and dispose of wastewater and drilling fluid at sea. Drilling and production platforms need design criteria based on atmospheric and oceanographic conditions, stress and load analysis, soil shear strength, and consolidation of the underlying seafloor. Platform construction and maintenance presents its own set of challenges:

  • Inspection and crack detection and repair at depths to 2,500 feet (some of which may be accomplished by remotely operated vehicles [ROVs])

  • Use of autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs)

  • Underwater explosive cutting and welding technology

  • Use of composite materials in topside structures and drill pipe and risers to reduce weight and increase resistance to abrasion, fire, sunlight, and salt water

  • Use of paint and painting systems, both surface and underwater

  • Use of deepwater pipeline connection systems (e.g., ROV and AUV) for both rigid and flexible pipe

  • Use of space-frame and finite-element design techniques

Subsea completion of wells presents other unique requirements, including:

  • Control systems

  • Long-life autonomous power supplies

  • Quick-acting valve operators and controls

  • Pipeline and valve connection and monitoring

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