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ABB completes tests on world-first subsea power technology system



ABB has completed 3,000 hours’ worth of shallow water tests on its pioneering new subsea power distribution and conversion technology system which, once commercially deployed, will enable oil and gas producers to make their offshore operations cleaner, safer and more sustainable.
ABB tested its new subsea power technology system at a sheltered harbour in Finland.
(Image via ABB).

The system will provide a reliable supply of up to 100 megawatts of power, over distances up to 600 kilometres and down to 3,000 metres water depth, at pressures that could shatter a brick. All with a single cable with little or no maintenance for up to 30 years. Such technology will make oil and gas production feasible in even the most far out and deepest ocean environments – an important development given the increasing depths at which reserves are being exploited these days.

The new technology is the result of a $100 million research, design and development Joint Industry Project (JIP) between ABB, Equinor, Total and Chevron which was initiated in 2013. 
Commenting on the new subsea power technology system, Dr. Peter Terwiesch, President of ABB’s Industrial Automation business said:

“This milestone marks an outstanding achievement and is the culmination point of an inspirational technology development achieved through tremendous dedication, expertise and perseverance. It is the result of intensive collaboration by over 200 scientists and engineers from ABB, Equinor, Total and Chevron in a multi-year, joint effort.”

The validation of the shallow water test at a sheltered harbour in Vaasa, Finland, means the majority of the world’s offshore hydrocarbon resources will now be in reach for electrification. 

By powering pumps and compressors on the seabed, closer to the reservoir, ABB’s subsea power distribution and conversion technology can significantly reduce power consumption. There is potential for substantial energy savings, with reduced carbon emissions using power from shore. ABB’s subsea power technology can connect to any power source, enabling future integrations with renewable energy, such as wind and hydro power.
ABB's new subsea power technology will be able to reduce overall consumption and emissions associated with subsea operations.
(Image via ABB).

The technology marks a major step-forward for offshore power solutions. Previously, only the transmission cable and subsea step-down transformer were proven to operate underwater. ABB’s new complete subsea power distribution and conversion system includes a step-down transformer, medium voltage variable speed drives and switchgear, control and low voltage power distribution, and power electronics and control systems.

This development begs the question – ‘could other parts of the oil and gas production process be moved to the seabed?’

ABB’s Dr. Terwiesch is confident that not just other parts, but entire operations, could be moved subsea:

“Moving the entire oil and gas production facility to the seabed is no longer a dream. Remotely operated, increasingly autonomous, subsea facilities powered by lower carbon energy are more likely to become a reality as we transition towards a new energy future.”

Dive into Fircroft’s wide range of subsea jobs now.

Tags: Oil & Gas
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ABB completes tests on world-first subsea power technology system - Time to read 3 min
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