Industry addressing challenges of deepwater, data management

For 30 years, INTECSEA has provided frontier technology leadership for the energy industry's most challenging offshore field development and pipeline projects. Recently, Neil Mackintosh, president of INTECSEA, met with Offshore to discuss the latest trends in offshore oil and gas development, subsea engineering, data management, and the outlook for the industry in the next five to 10 years, and beyond.

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Subsea pumping will be major growth area, says new INTECSEA president

Bruce Beaubouef
Managing Editor

For 30 years, INTECSEA has provided frontier technology leadership for the energy industry's most challenging offshore field development and pipeline projects. The company has designed subsea production systems, pipelines and floating systems for operations in some of the harshest environments, and in locations as diverse as the Black Sea, Arctic Ocean, Mediterranean, the Gulf of Mexico, offshore West Africa, and the South China Sea.

As part of the WorleyParsons Group, INTECSEA offers the industry engineering and project management expertise in its five core areas:subsea systems, offshore pipelines, marine riser systems, floating systems, and Arctic development.

1502offintec1Neil Mackintosh was appointed president of INTECSEA in July 2014, and has more than 30 years' experience in the oil and gas industry. As president, he is responsible for maintaining the company's leadership as a global provider of engineering and project management services for offshore oil and gas developments.
Neil Mackintosh

Throughout his career, Mackintosh has successfully established businesses in multiple markets, including Malaysia, Australia and Brazil. His experience covers engineering, construction, project management of marine pipelines, as well as subsea and riser developments, and fixed and floating offshore facilities.

Recently, Mackintosh met withOffshore to discuss the latest trends in offshore oil and gas development, subsea engineering, data management, and the outlook for the industry in the next five to 10 years, and beyond.

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In order for subsea pumping to be successful, the industry will need to be able to transmit a lot of power down to the seabed, says INTECSEA president Neil Mackintosh. (Photo courtesy OneSubsea)

Offshore: INTECSEA is involved in a number of technologies. Where do you see the most opportunity for the next five-10 years, and beyond?

Mackintosh: One of the key areas of technology development for INTECSEA is in data processing and data management. As an industry, we are installing large numbers of sensors and collecting substantial amounts of data on our subsea equipment, flowlines, and risers. However, we need to do a much better job of managing that data. We have so much information that it is sometimes difficult to determine what is important and what is irrelevant.

We are working on an extended web-based environment, designed to capture, integrate, and visualize key data through the asset lifecycle. We can add information through each stage of the project development, then continue to record and update the data through the full field life. As the development matures, the integrated dataset evolves into a "digital asset," which is populated with data, including links to existing operator-specific systems for IMR records and process monitoring to provide a comprehensive, flexible platform to support integrity management through the life of the field.

Offshore: There's been a lot of talk about standardization. What do you think about its place in the industry?

Mackintosh: Various operators and manufacturers have tried to provide some degree of standardization for their developments. This has worked very well for most companies and adds a significant amount of value in terms of equipment change out, manufacturing flexibility, and simplicity in offshore operations. Can more work be done in this area? Yes, absolutely, and subsea companies are taking the lead and moving this forward for our industry.

Offshore: How does INTECSEA respond to calls for more local content in places like Brazil, Mexico, West Africa, etc.?

Mackintosh: This is an absolute requirement for our company. We have to find ways to work closely within the frameworks that are requested by local governments. This is easier to do in some places than others, but we continue to open local offices to meet the local requirements. However, we have to make sure that we have the same quality of engineering in our local offices that we do in our main offices. This means that our subject matter experts have to support engineering in all parts of the world and in several different time zones. One of the areas that we are particularly keen on developing is India. We see a growing market for deepwater subsea and floating systems engineering to support the major East Coast developments by companies like ONGC and Reliance.

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.

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