Offshore: Back to Mexico – there's a lot of optimism following the passage of new regulations. Do you see that part of the GoM becoming a hotspot for operations?
Mackintosh: Yes, I am very optimistic about the Mexican market in the long term. It is going to take some time before foreign operators start to participate in a meaningful way, but PEMEX is developing its first deepwater fields and will always have a crucial role to play.
Offshore: What is your view of the "seabed factory" idea of having as much production equipment as possible in the subsea environment? Is more than basic separation/multi-phase flow seabed processing likely?
Mackintosh: The whole topic of subsea processing has been discussed for many years. However, I think we need to be a little bit more specific about the opportunities that subsea processing and the seabed factory can bring over the next five years or so. The major area for growth is in subsea pumping, especially taking the back pressure off the reservoir and getting more oil out of the ground. In order for subsea pumping to be successful, we have to be able to transmit a lot of power down to the seabed and I think that's where the biggest advances in technology have to come: in the delivery of efficient power to the subsea processing systems. This means high-quality, ultra-reliable subsea electrical power connectors and distributed power systems. These advances will come more quickly than processing and compression solutions.
Offshore: The industry is increasingly facing the challenges of deeper water, deeper wells, higher temperatures, higher pressures, longer tiebacks, and extended field life. Are there limits to any of these sorts of trends, whether technical or economic?
Mackintosh: The limits are purely economic. If it makes financial sense, then the investments in technology will occur and projects will get developed. Once we get past the "first-of-a-kind" scenario, more companies will invest in the technology, costs will come down, and the solutions become increasingly mainstream.
Offshore: The Arctic has a whole new set of design influences compared to other offshore operating arenas. INTECSEA is involved in these influences. What are the biggest issues for those conditions?
Mackintosh: Work will continue to happen in the Arctic, in Alaska and Northern Canada, but projects have taken time to mature, not due to technical reasons, but due to permitting and environmental permissions. Not too long ago, I would have said that one of the key elements for long-term success in Arctic design is the ability to speak Russian, but times change. INTECSEA is a global leader in Arctic design, and we continue to execute cold- weather projects, where understanding the ice interactions with offshore facilities and pipelines is an essential part of the design process.