European companies, Siemens AG and ABB Group, are collaborating with exploration and production firms (E&Ps) to develop unmanned and automated submerged oil platforms.
According to Siemens, these new platforms are self-sufficient and better than traditional oil and gas extraction factories, as they do not come with the risk to human life caused by accidents. Basically, they are safe because operators will just control them from land. Also, they are said to come with lower costs on maintenance, as they are not exposed to extreme atmospheric conditions and requires less workforce.
From the perspective of E&Ps, these submerged oil platforms will also be much more productive than traditional wells. After all, they will extract oil directly from the seabed without the long structures needed to bring the hydrocarbons to the surface.
But like traditional oil platforms, these new structures also come with certain challenges. For one, they should be built with components that can withstand extreme amounts of water pressure in the deep parts of the ocean. Commenting on this issue, Siemens engineer Jan Erik Lystad said:
“We have a kind of torture chamber for technical components. We put parts under enormous pressure. The technology has to withstand up to 460 bar — that’s how high the pressure is at a depth of 4,600 meters.”
Aside from Siemens and ABB, the innovative oil and gas company Statoil also plans to deploy a similar platform at one of its fields in 2020.