New subsea technologies and systems must be qualified before use to build confidence that they will function as intended. However, current subsea technology qualification (TQ) processes can be inefficient, time consuming and variations in methodology impede industry players from leveraging on each other’s results. Now DNV GL is calling for a standardized system qualification approach and joint industry effort to drive faster take-up of new technology and value creation in subsea.
A new position paper ‘Subsea system qualification - Towards a standardized approach’ by DNV GL’s Strategic Research & Innovation unit aims to answer two questions: How can confidence in new subsea systems be demonstrated in a faster and more efficient way? How can already qualified technologies be re-qualified in an effective manner for reuse in similar systems or under slightly different operating conditions?
The position paper proposes a joint industry effort in three steps to enable more effective technology development and implementation in the field: 1) Establish common industry principles, and consolidate a common framework for system qualification founded on existing industry procedures; 2) Develop a methodology to standardize system qualification for common use across the upstream oil and gas industry and 3) Pilot and demonstrate the developed methodology and roll-out a Recommended Practice.
“The subsea industry needs to overcome key challenges such as cost reductions, enabling increased recovery, and complex field developments. At the same time, the future trend still points towards more complex systems which require integrating process, power, and control systems subsea. Assuring safety and reliability on a system level is critical when interfaces become more complex and system integration failures are harder to identify,” says Tore Myhrvold, researcher and lead author of the paper, DNV GL.
“Developing a standardized approach to subsea technology qualification will enable companies to leverage on each other’s qualification efforts and results, reduce the overall development time and ultimately enable faster innovation in the subsea sector,” continues Myhrvold.
Previous experience has shown that focus on qualification in the early phases of development reduces risk of failures in late phase testing. Failures and errors in tests that are run in later development stages, such as factory acceptance tests (FAT) and system integration tests (SIT), are expensive to fix since they may result in costly rework and re-iteration of the design process. DNV GL’s position paper recommends increasing the qualification efforts in the early phases of development to enable faster and more effective development and implementation of novel subsea technology systems.
The position paper also proposes that numerical or analytical methods (models) could prove to be cost effective and safe alternatives to current expensive physical testing or be used in conjunction with existing methods. These alternative methods can explore the effects from parameter variations and how different sub-systems or single components affect the entire system performance. By using non-intrusive numerical modelling tools to establish a common modelling platform, a wide variety of validated models can be used in the system qualification to virtually test system operational ranges and failures.
“The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD) reports that subsea tie-back represents the most relevant solution for 68 out of 88 discoveries on the Norwegian continental shelf. To sanction many of these projects, fast and cost effective technology development is vital,” says Elisabeth Tørstad, CEO of DNV GL – Oil & Gas.
“Our efforts to drive standardization in the subsea sector aim to reduce cost, lead times and to increase confidence in new technologies to enable faster innovation. Our collaboration with the industry on subsea documentation and subsea forging for example have resulted in guidance that is being implemented in projects and now delivering benefits for operators,” adds Tørstad.