RPSEA indicates areas of 2009 research proposals

May 6, 2009
The Research Partnership to Secure Energy for America (RPSEA) is at the Offshore Technology Conference this year as an invited organization.

Offshore staff

HOUSTON --The Research Partnership to Secure Energy for America (RPSEA) is at the Offshore Technology Conference this year as an invited organization. RPSEA is being recognized for its contributions to the offshore industry.

Funding for RPSEA is through the "Ultra-Deepwater and Unconventional Natural Gas and Other Petroleum Resources Research and Development Program" authorized by the Energy Policy Act of 2005. This program aims to increase supply and reduce costs to consumers while enhancing the global leadership position of the United States in energy technology through the development of domestic intellectual capital. RPSEA is under contract with the US Department of Energy's National Energy Technology Laboratory to administer several elements of the program. RPSEA is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit consortium with more than 145 members, including 25 research universities, five national laboratories, other major research institutions, large and small energy producers, and energy consumers.

RPSEA says it will meet its goals by:
• Increasing the production of ultra-deepwater oil and gas resources
• Reducing the costs to find, develop, and produce such resources
• Increasing the efficiency of exploitation of such resources
• Increasing production efficiency and ultimate recovery of such resources
• Improving safety and environmental performance, by minimizing environmental impacts associated with ultra deepwater E&P.

RPSEA ultra deepwater program for 2009

The 2009 ultra deepwater (UDW) portion of RPSEA's activities will have $14.96 million available for project awards. RPSEA says the 2009 UDW will target funding of five to 10 projects, with a value of $1 million to $5 million each and a duration of one to three years. Projects will be aligned with the six UDW needs. Project integration across multiple disciplines are encouraged (e.g. geoscience, reservoir and drilling, or flow assurance and subsea).

A methodology similar to the 2007 and 2008 project selection process will be used by the UDW TACs and PAC to assist in prioritizing, rating, and selecting 2009 proposals for funding. The 2009 process is different than the process used in 2007 and 2008, in that the UDW TACs prioritized project ideas by initiatives instead of developing and voting for specific individual projects.

UDW 2009 RFPs will consist of both specific project ideas and broader initiative-based requests. Anticipated 2009 UDW initiatives and/or projects are listed below in the context of each UDW need.

Need 1: Drilling, completion, and intervention breakthroughs. Proposals will be requested identifying novel ideas to reduce well construction and completion costs.

Need 2: Appraisal and development geoscience and reservoir engineering. Proposals will be requested in the area of production and reservoir surveillance. The goal of this effort is to reduce the amount of unproduced hydrocarbons upon well or field abandonment, contributing to increased recovery.

Need 3: Significantly extend subsea tieback distances/surface host elimination. Proposals may be requested in one or more of the following areas:
• Ultra deepwater flow assurance especially for the areas of solids (asphaltenes, hydrates, waxes, and scale) deposition and plug formation management
• Pressure boosting
• Autonomous underwater vehicles and intervention
• Subsea processing/produced water treatment

Need 4: Dry trees/direct well intervention and risers in 10,000 feet of water. This need area was addressed in the 2007 and 2008 UDW program. Additional follow-on activities may be funded in subsequent years.

Need 5: Continuous improvement/optimize field development. Proposals in this need area may include:
• Advancing industry understanding of phenomena impacting ultra-deepwater operations such as vortex-induced vibration
• Improvements in integrity management and reliability
• Additional graduate student project funding
• High risk, high reward "long-shot" R&D opportunities

Need 6: Associated safety and environmental concerns. Ultra deepwater efforts in this need area will involve the assessment of environmental and safety impact of UDW funded technology development projects. This effort may take the form of individual solicitations or elements of more extensive project based solicitations. Areas of study may include:
• Improved metocean understanding
• Discharge of produced water subsea – technology and regulatory aspects.