Alpha Thames Ltd of Upminster, UK, will carry out a 15-month qualification program with the assistance of the EP Projects division of Shell International Exploration and Production Inc (SIEP). The program is focused on qualifying Alpha Thames' products and technology for use in Shell Operating Units and field developments.
The Shell agreement will involve the manufacture and testing of components for an AlphaCPU (central processing unit) to operate at down to 3,000 m water depth. This will be an all-electric, modular, seabed processing unit system with plug and play capabilities that can be configured for two or three-phase seabed separation (oil, gas, and water) and booster pumping of separated single-phase fluids, as well as for multiphase boosting. The AlphaPrime system is designed to allow operators to re-adapt the system over time to match the reservoir's production characteristics, such as increased water cut. This is typically achieved by use of dual units that can be individually reconfigured to optimize hydrocarbon throughput without shutting-off production. This design approach allows any new technology (including third party) to be incorporated within an existing system as and when it becomes available, thus providing maximum system flexibility to the operator. In this way, equipment is provisioned and deployed only when it is needed, thereby reducing the initial capital expenditure budget.
A System-Module has been built as a prototype with funding from Alpha Thames' Swedish parent company Kockums and from the EU. The qualification program will now include the manufacture and testing of electrical subsea connectors, valve actuators, and the design of a CPU. The program is expected to last until late 2003 with the objective of achieving a standard that qualifies the entire system as being catalogue ready for potential use offshore by Shell.