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An Introduction to Subsea Control

CONTENTS The History Of Subsea Production Control. ..................................................... 2 Sub-sea Well Heads ...................................................................................... 11 Opening a valve at the bottom of the Sea ...................................................... 11 Simple system ............................................................................................ 11 Sub Sea valve operation control .................................................................... 12 Direct control .............................................................................................. 12 Sequenced Control..................................................................................... 13 Electro-Hydraulic Control systems. ............................................................ 15 Multiplexed Control Systems. ..................................................................... 16 Multiplexed Electro-Hydraulic. .................................................................... 16 Subsea Control Modules (SCM) .................................................................... 17 Control Modules. ........................................................................................ 17 The Function of the Subsea Control Module .............................................. 17 Subsea Electronics Module. (SEM). ........................................................... 19 Directional control valve (DCV). ................................................................. 19 Valve Manifold Block. ................................................................................. 19 Internal Pressure Transmitters. .................................................................. 22 Shuttle valves ............................................................................................. 22 Accumulators.............................................................................................. 23 Safety Precautions.................................................................................. 24 Filter Units. (Last chance) .......................................................................... 24 Electrical Connectors. ................................................................................ 24 Power Inductive Couplers. ......................................................................... 24 Power conductive Couplers ........................................................................ 25 Hydraulic connectors. ................................................................................. 25 SCM Mounting Base (ROV installed system) ............................................. 25 SCM Mounting Base (Diver installed system) ............................................ 25 The Pod lock system. ................................................................................. 26 Pressure Compensation ............................................................................. 27 Fig2 ................................................................................................. 28 Reduced Umbilical Systems .......................................................................... 29 Comms-On-Power...................................................................................... 29 Subsea High Pressure Intensifier ............................................................... 29 Subsea Chemical Metering ........................................................................ 29 Fill / circulation pump as fitted to Hudson and Foinaven ................. 39 Lower well construction and components ...................................................... 53

Introduction To Sub Sea Control The History Of Subsea Production Control.

Modern day offshore oil exploration and production has become a highly technical operation. Pinpoint accuracy along with hard fact have taken over from the wild cat days of lets try here. Modern technologies now run the business, much of which was learnt and developed in the 1960's space race There is very little difference going into outer space or travelling into the inner space of the world's ocean depths. In the early 1960s the offshore oil industry was a small concern, with only fields in shallow waters being developed, as offshore production had many problems. The risk of pollution, the maintaining of control, moving the product ashore, weather and cost. In the late 1960's as man was preparing to walk on the moon the first major gas strikes were made in the shallow waters of the Southern North Sea. This was met with great excitement with industry leaders announcing on television that by the end of the 1970's all the homes and factories in the UK would be fed with this new free product and gas bills would be a thing of the past. The British public was bombarded with slogans 'high speed gas', 'cookability that's the beauty of gas', 'North Sea gas' and the little blue flame man was seen on bill boards across the nation. By the late 1970's gas bills were as high as ever and oil and petrol prices got higher and higher as the doom and gloom merchants forecast that the world's oil reserves would be used up by the turn of the century. As the first of the North Sea gas was thundering up from the depths and making its way slowly to the homes and industry of the UK, 200 miles east of Aberdeen new records were being set in deep water drilling (deep water in 1968 was 500 ft.). The hope was originally to strike gas in the Northern North Sea so that Scotland could share in the gas without the need for long pipe lines. But what they found in the North was very different from the gas in the south - it was black and runny and there seemed to be no end of it. So started the boom time of the North Sea. Armies of American businessmen invaded Aberdeen as the North Sea Oil industry exploded into life. Every field find seemed to be bigger than the last. Working in water depths of around 600 ft soon proved to be no challenge but did mean that the limit of exploration was the continental shelf. Up in the far North, right on the edge of the shelf a new field was struck. Magnus was a complicated field but had great potential. Being on the edge of the shelf it had been cut up with faults and had become clear that to effectively produce would be difficult. To improve this it was required to drill an additional seven wells around the drill centre below the platform. These satellite wells would be used for production initially but later changed to water injection as the field got older. In the shallow waters of the southern sector their satellite wells would have been produced to small unmanned platforms but in the deeper waters of the north the option would not have proven to be cost effective.

Oil Bearing Sands

Traditional Development

Traditional Field Expansion

E xpansion using S ubsea W ell

Expansion using M ultiple Subsea W ells

W h y B o th e r w ith a P la tfo rm ?
A S u b se a D e ve lo p m e n t

Sub-sea Well Heads A new technology had been used with some success in other areas. This was to place the well head control tree on the sea bed instead of on the platform. The valves on the tree would be controlled hydraulically from the control centre on the platform, either by direct hydraulics or sequenced hydraulics. These systems have proved to be very good so long as the off-set is not too long. The case for Magnus was that the offset was long with the added complication of having seven wells. Each well had to be able to read back its production pressure. Magnus selected a new form of control called multiplexed with sequenced hydraulics as a back-up. The control modules were produced by N.L. Scheffer that had a good track record with blow out prevention control systems. The multiplex electronics was produced by Marconi Avionics Offshore Projects Group in Nailsea, Bristol. The system was designed with several back-up modes with dual redundancy on electronic subsea systems. Each well was individually powered and controlled. The system was installed and commissioned in 1981/82 and is still in use today. In 1988 in the same area of the North Sea the first complete field was developed using subsea control. The Don field was situated 11 kilometres from the Thistle Platform from which the four well field would be controlled and produced. The Don control system was supplied by GEC Avionics Offshore Projects Group with the control modules being built on their behalf by Brisco Engineering. Although a small field Don proved that the way ahead for offshore production was the subsea control field. These early control systems were designed to be installed by divers but as time went on and more and more systems were being installed the industry realised that the way to the deep water oil 500 metres + would be using sub-sea systems. With more and more concern regarding safe diving and saturation divers being limited in their dive depth the ROV (Remote Operated Vehicle) intervention systems were developed, with the control system, well head and the export pipe work all being able to be installed and maintained by ROV. The oil companies are now taking their first steps over the edge of the continental shelf into the North Atlantic. This is opening up all new challenges that must be addressed and conquered if we are to continue in our great quest for black gold.

Opening a valve at the bottom of the Sea

Simple system You just place a man at the valve, with a telephone. The control room can call him up and ask him to open or close the valve at any time. Oh! And while he is at it maybe he could read the pressure and temperature in the pipeline at the same time. Could it be this simple ?


Sub Sea valve operation control

Assuming a standard pressure to open and a Spring closed Actuation. There are basically 4 types of control available. ( not including the one above).

Direct control From a hydraulic power source on the surface, run a hydraulic hose down to each valve. Pressurise and it opens, vent and it closes.

For It's very simple and reliable. Against One hose for each function. There would be a long delay in pressurisation and de pressurisation owing to the hose length. There would be no indication that the valve had moved. Direct control can be and is used where there are a small number of valves close to the pressure source. Example:- Sub Sea Isolation Valves. (SSIV's)


Sequenced Control Sequenced control can be used where a series of valves need to be set in a known set of combinations. Example:Valve Positions 1 2 A Closed Open B Closed Closed C Closed Closed D Closed Closed E Closed Closed 3 Open Open Closed Closed Closed 4 Open Open Open Closed Closed 5 Open Open Open Open Open

This type of control can be achieved with only 2 hoses. One to supply the actuation pressure and one to supply a pilot pressure. To organise this requires a piece of equipment to be installed close to the valves that are to be controlled. This unit is commonly known as a subsea Control Module (SCM). The subsea control module would be fitted with a number of pilot operated directional control valves (DCV's). The number of these valves corresponding to the number of valves that are to be controlled, except in more complicated situations. Using different piston sizes on the pilot stage of each DCV, will result in the

DCV's piloting across to there open positions at different pilot pressures. Example Assuming a full pilot pressure of 250 Bar. Valve 1 could be set to pilot at 50 Bar Valve 2 could be set to pilot at 100 Bar Valve 3 could be set to pilot at 150 Bar Valve 4 could be set to pilot at 200 Bar Valve 5 could be set to pilot at 250 Bar

Set Up


These pressures being regulated at the hydraulic power unit control panel. For Only 2 hydraulic lines are required. Against Only pre determined valve sequences allowed. No indication as to valve position. Over long offsets can be slow in operation. Valve positioning may be erratic.


Electro-Hydraulic Control systems. This system once more uses a subsea control module (SCM), but this time fitted with electrically energised directional control valves with no hydraulic pilot stage. They are energised electrically from the platform individually. As each valve would require its own signal 5 wires (for a 5 function system) and a common would have to be run to the SCM from the platform. But only one hydraulic hose.

For Only one hydraulic hose. Total control of each valve. Fast in operation. Against No valve position indication unless further wires are run. Multiple subsea cables.


Multiplexed Control Systems. The ideal system would be one that can open and close any number of valves almost instantly and can confirm that the valve has been energised. But can also read back other information such as product flow rates, pressures and temperatures. All using one hydraulic hose and 2 electrical cores, without siting a man on the sea bed with a telephone. Multiplexed Electro-Hydraulic. The number of conductors needed in the communication circuits can, however, be minimised by using a multiplexed (mux) system. Rather than having a specific electrical circuit for each control function, a single circuit is used, with additional intelligence to allow a particular signal to be routed to a particular solenoid pilot valve. This system is capable of controlling a large number of actuators very quickly, and using a relatively small umbilical. In principle, the umbilical need only contain a single electrical power line and a signal line, and a hydraulic supply line (though in practice additional functions would be added). It is even possible to combine the electrical power and signal onto the same pair of wires. Furthermore, multiplexed systems also permit the retrieval of data multiplexed onto the same communication circuit as for control. Such data plays a crucial role in helping the reservoir engineer to monitor the status of production, and thence to maximise reservoir recovery and/or productivity. Additional sensors can be incorporated to optimise production, without impacting on umbilical complexity and cost. Operationally the multiplexed system requires smaller umbilicals and less

deck space than all other systems, and provides a monitoring capability not otherwise available economically. The speed of operation is greatly superior to that of all-hydraulic systems. As a result, the E-H mux system is now used on all but the least demanding subsea production systems.


Subsea Control Modules (SCM)

Control Modules. Individual tree and manifold control is provided via subsea control modules (SCMs) . These modules contain the valving and multiplexing software required for routing of hydraulic fluid to the various valve and choke actuators. Additionally, all monitoring of subsea systems status is accomplished in this module. Each module includes at least one subsea electronics module (SEM), pilot valves and some transducers. A universal module (i.e. all modules having identical configuration) is recommended to allow module interchangeability and to reduce system cost. In abnormal operation, when electrical communication is lost, all pilot valves fail as they are. The system can then be kept in production by use of the hydraulic supply lines. Conversely, all production valve actuators are fail-safe when hydraulic pressure is removed. Thus, the system can be shut-in by removing the control supply pressure to shut all tree and manifold valves, and secured by removing the high pressure supply to close the downhole safety valves. Design of the interfaces to the subsea control module is entirely dependent upon whether the module is diver-assisted or diverless retrievable. Diverless systems are inevitably more complex, requiring self-alignment features of all the hydraulic and electrical connectors.

The Function of the Subsea Control Module The SCM purpose is to :Supply and control pressure supplies to hydraulically actuated valves. Provide conformation of actuator movements. Read back system pressures and temperatures Read back production pressures and temperatures. Read back information regarding its own well being.(House keeping values) The above list is for ever getting longer as more and more technology is forced into its operating parameters. Such advancements include. Down hole flow metering. Chemical metering. Boosting the low pressure hydraulic supply to provide the high pressure supply.


Sand production metering. Production flow metering. Corrosion sensing. Multiple well control. As a result of the diversity of the SCM's operating parameters. Each project will have different requirements and so each project requires a different SCM design.

Diver installed SCM (electrical face shown) (Ninian platform protection)

Diverless control module Pompano shown Major components of a subsea control module.


Subsea Electronics Module. (SEM). The subsea electronics module (SEM) is used to transmit and receive the digital information between the Master Control Station (MCS) and the subsea system. Down link commands from the MCS are interrogated by the SEMs processor that trigger commands to the SEM components, such as the 24 volt solenoid drivers that command the open or close solenoid on each DCV to function. It also receives the analogue 4-20 mA signals from the various transmitters and converts them to a digital signal that are passed to the up link to the MCS. The SEMs are powered from the control umbilical, with around 100 volt although this can vary from project to project. The uplink and the down links are carried on two wire cores within the control umbilical. On a PC based MCS the 2 wires will carry all the uplink and downlink communications for up to 32 SCMs. New technology now allows the communications (uplink and downlink) to be carried within the power umbilical cores. (Power on comms). For the MCS to talk to a particular SEM, it needs to address the SEM. Each SEM is given an address number. For the MCS to communicate with a SEM, the SEM must be logged onto the MCS by use of its address number. Directional control valve (DCV). Pilot valves are used to route hydraulic fluid to an actuator, in response to an electric or hydraulic signal. In E-H systems, a solenoid is used to move a poppet within the machined body of the pilot valve. The solenoid is driven by special I/O circuits within the electronics module. Pilot valves should be as simple as possible and a two-position three-way valve is preferable. It is important to note that one solenoid pilot is used to effect closure, and another used to effect opening. This means that under normal conditions, neither solenoid is energised, and this minimises the power consumption of the control system. Each solenoid can also carry two coils for redundancy. It is also important to note that the main piston is spring loaded. This ensures that the valve moves to its closed position if hydraulic supply pressure is lost. The life of the valve will depend on the hydraulic fluid that is selected; the cleaner the fluid, the longer the life. NAS 1638, class 6 is being specified for most systems in the North Sea. It is essential that these components are assembled with the greatest possible care. Reliable control valves already exist, but the aim of the manufacturers must be to make them more tolerant of dirty operating fluids. Valve Manifold Block. All the pilot valves in a module are assembled together on a manifold block. This minimises the hard piping needed. A complete. set of pilot valves will usually include one valve to perform an 'arm' function. This is a function which must be activated after a shut-down, before any other function will operate.


The reason for this is to ensure an orderly start-up sequence after any interruption in the hydraulic supply. The valve type generally used on all Vetco Gray Controls systems comprise of a pilot operated 2-position 3-way valve, with the pilot section activated by 2 solenoid valves. One valve is used for opening the main valve and the other to close it. The solenoids are powered by 24 volts supplied by the SEM and only require a momentary pulse to engage the pilot pressure, one to three seconds being all that is required, thus reducing the power required to and from the SEM. The solenoid duration time is set by the SEM and can be changed easily from the MCS. The valve closes by spring pressure. This moves the valve to the closed / vent position once the pilot pressure has been vented or the pilot pressure has dropped to a level where it can no longer resist the spring. The venting of the pilot pressure is done by energising the closed solenoid. The valves ability to drop out or delatch when the pilot pressure drops to a predetermined level is an important feature of this design of valve. By careful selection of spring the valves can be set to drop out at almost any pressure. This is used in the systems Emergency Shut Down (ESD). Ideally in the event of an emergency shut down the valves would be shut down via the MCS in a set manor that allows the system to be restarted easily. But in the event that the MCS no-longer has any power or has been knocked out by the emergency, the subsea production of hydrocarbons can still be stopped by venting the hydraulic supplies at the HPU (see section on the Hydraulic power unit). The venting of the pressure would cause the valves to drop out and close as soon as it has dropped to a level where it can no longer hold the DCV in its open position. In all production systems, one valve is specified as the Flow Cut Valve (FCV). This will always be the first valve to close and to achieve this the DCV controlling that valve will be fitted with a stronger spring to the others. As the pressure falls from the normal working pressure of 207 bar at 80 bar the DCV controlling the FCV will drop out and the FCV will close so stopping production. As the pressure continues to fall to 50 to 60 bar all the other valves will then shut in. (The reason for shutting a well in this way will be explained in the section on well start up). This type of ESD is normally referred to as a catastrophic shut down. Once a shut down has been carried out in this way, depressurising the system will not reopen the DCV's. the MCS will have to be reset and each open solenoid valve will have to be energised. Vetco Gray Controls have for a long time generally used one type of valve manufactured by Tactair (USA) formally known as Teledyne, but more recently VG have moved away from the single source and have been using other valves of different size and manufacture. In an attempt to maintain more control of quality and design, Vetco Gray Controls have now developed a DCV to there own design and build. This valve has already been approved for use on several high profile projects. Even so they all work in the same way. With the exemption of one or two where the customer requested that the DCV controlling the FCV must be a permanently energised open valve. This type of valve is held in the open position by the solenoid. As soon as the power is removed the valve will move to the closed position. As a result if the power is removed from the MCS for


any reason including maintenance the subsea production would stop, this has never been popular with platform operators.


Internal Pressure Transmitters. The number and location of pressure transmitters within an SCM, is generally dictated by the client. There is almost always one on each consolidated supply (down stream of the shuttle valve) and sometimes one on each supply (up stream of the shuttle valve) and the best systems have one on each function out put. The pressure read by the transducer is converted into a reading between 4 and 20 milli amps. 4 mA reading zero pressure and 20 mA representing the full scale of the transmitter. This information is sent to the SEM that intern sends it to the MCS. The MCS converts it back into an engineering unit (psi or bar). If the SCM has been fitted with transmitters on the function out puts, when the DCV goes to the open position the transmitter will see pressure. The initial pressure will be low as the hydraulic fluid pressure is being used to move the actuator; it may drop to only 150 bar. This information is sent to the MCS which is programmed under this situation to assume that the valve is moving and tells the operator. Once the out put has recovered to its normal working pressure the MCS will assume that the valve is now open and will tell the operator. (The MCS is programmed with an expected time for the valve to operate in. If the pressure continues to show low after this time has expired, it will send out an alarm.) There is one internal pressure transmitter also fitted inside the SEM itself. As the SEM is a pressure vessel and the internal pressure is at one bar, if the pressure was to increase it would indicate a leak. So the pressure within the SEM is constantly monitored by the MCS. Shuttle valves The HPU and the umbilical deliver to the subsea system two services of low pressure hydraulic power and two services of high pressure hydraulic power. This is to allow for full duel redundancy of the hydraulic supplies. In the event of the loss of one of the supplies, the other supply must be able to continue to maintain the system pressure without loss by returning to the depressurised supply. This is achieved at the SCM with shuttle valves (see fig).


It is only once inside the SCM that the 2 supplies are merged or selected by using the shuttle valve. Which ever supply is providing the highest pressure will be selected. The pressure from the higher pressure supply closing of the lower pressure supply. In the example the A supply will be shut of as the pressure from the B supply is forcing the ball against the a seal. If the pressure on the A supply is equal to the B supply, the ball will float allowing pressure to be taken from both sides, but as soon as the pressure on one side drops lower than the other it will be sealed. The shuttle valve will allow an entire subsea supply to be vented, without any loss of pressure on the back up channel. This is a feature that has proved to be essential in many system integration procedures. Note:- The SCM's supplied to Amerada Hess for the Hudson field, although fitted with shuttle valves, where also fitted with an electronic equivalent using solenoid operated DCV's and pressure transmitters. These where requested by AHL owing to the bad reputation for failing to seal that shuttle valves had at one time. Accumulators. At one time it was normal to group all the SCM's together on a subsea template or on the manifold and with them would be a pair of accumulator modules, one for each hydraulic channel. As the majority of our SCM's are

now fitted on the well head trees themselves, they have to provide there own stored hydraulic energy.


Accumulators are fitted for two reasons. One is to damp out any hydraulic shocks and the other is to provide a store of pressurised fluid that can be called upon at times of great demand. Such as opening a large actuator, where the supply down the umbilical cannot keep up with the actuators thirst. Vetco Gray Controls uses 2 types of accumulator within our SCM's. The most common type are the nitrogen charged bladder type (see Fig **). These are general-purpose accumulators suitable for use with a variety of pressures and pre-charges. But if the pressure is to exceed 7500 psi (gauge) then the nitrogen charged piston accumulator is selected. (See Fig **) Safety Precautions. Gas charged accumulators must only be charged with dry nitrogen. Oxygen for example, will cause a massive explosion if it comes in contact with hydraulic oil or grease owing to the dieseling effect. Any work on hydraulic systems incorporating accumulators must only be carried out after release of the pressurised fluid. Gas bladder accumulators should normally be mounted vertically with the gas filling valve at the top. Accumulators should be securely fastened to prevent them being torn from their supports by recoil in the event of fracture in the piping system. For maintenance work on accumulators, adhere strictly to the instructions provided by the manufacturer.

Filter Units. (Last chance) The requirements of a clean system will be mentioned in the HPU section. Even though the hydraulic fluid supplied from the HPU is to the cleanliness standard required. The consequences of damage caused by dirt to the subsea system, has resulted in the fitting of very fine 3 micron last chance filters on each of the inputs into the SCM and also an additional filter on the pilot pressure supply. These filters have no blockage indicators but are fitted with a by-pass valve in case of such an unlikely event Electrical Connectors. Making up power electric's subsea has always provided a problem as electrical voltage and sea water do not mix. Power Inductive Couplers. In the mid seventies, an idea was tried to connect power cables by inducing a current in one transformer winding with an other, but with a visible gap


between the two windings. If each winding was encased in a plastic shell it was possible for the two halves to be mechanically pushed together under water and current could pass between them. To achieve the best results 400 Hz power was used. This system of connecting power and communications subsea was used up to the Troll and Hudson projects in the mid Ninties. Power conductive Couplers

These projects used a conductive coupler. The Troll project using a Lockheed connector and Hudson using a Tronic connector. Diver Mateable instrument connectors (Hydrobonds) Power conductive couplers are very precise pieces of equipment, with a very high integrity. As a result they are also very expensive. Since the Brit-oil - BP Don project in 1988 all diver installed SCM'S have used Hydrobond connectors for all there instrument connections. The Hydrobond is a simple rubber connector (usually 4 pin) that when screwed together expels enough water to maintain a seal good enough for low voltages (24 volts for 4-20 mA sensors typical) Hydraulic connectors. For a long time VG failed to standardise on a specific type and manufacture of couplers. This was mainly owing to the wide variety of connectors and customer preferences. it was not until the ROV installed SCM's became the normal that VG standardised on the National connector for base connections. These units have a good track record and rarely require any attention. SCM Mounting Base (ROV installed system) This is a carbon steel structure permanently integrated onto the Xmas tree, Manifold or Template. Its Top Plate houses hydraulic couplers and electrical connectors. These connect hydraulic control functions to the tree and manifold valve actuators and electrical monitoring from various tree sensors, via mating couplers and connectors in the SCM base plate. SCM Mounting Base (Diver installed system) In the case of a diver installed system, there is no requirement for base plate connections. The diver will make up the hydraulic and electrical connections by hand, normally on the side of the SCM. The SCM mounting base in this case will normally consist of a method of securing the module to its location, so as to prevent movement.


The Pod lock system. As field water depths have got deeper and deeper, it has became necessary to dispense with all types of diver intervention. Placing the hydraulic and the electrical connectors on the bottom of the SCM has allowed the SCM to connect to the subsea functions just by landing the unit on to a suitably equipped landing base that has been mounted on to the subsea structure. Once the unit has been landed so that the couplers have made up, it is then necessary to hold the SCM in place, as high function pressures would easily lift the module off. It is also necessary to line up the two halves accurately and to bring them together in a slow controlled way (soft landing). Contrary to popular believe this is not done by the running tool (see section on running tools page 62), but by the pod lock (also known as retlock).

The podlock is installed in the centre of the SCMs base plate with its actuation drive protruding through the top of the top cover and its latching Nub protruding through the bottom of the base plate. As the SCM is lowered on to its landing base the 2 alignment pins orientates the couplers. The Nub of the Podlock engages in a cut out in the centre of the base plate and the nub takes the full weight of the SCM. In this position none of the couplings have made up or even made contact. The large drive nut at the top of the SCM is now turned clockwise. This is done by the ROV via the running tool if the SCM is subsea. Or by hand if it is on the surface. The first turn engages the nub. A further 22-23 turns will then be applied. This action will draw the nub towards the base plate. In so doing pulling the SCM slowly onto the Landing base, making up the connectors. Turning the drive anti-clockwise drives the nub back out and so jacking the couplers slowly apart. Once more the last turn disengages the nub from the landing base allowing the SCM to be recovered. After the SCM has been installed for a number years there was concern voiced by many that the podlock mechanism may seize causing the recovery 26

of the SCM to become in some cases impractical. To satisfy this potential situation a second drive is fitted to the top of the assembly. When the correct tool is used with this drive it causes a sheer pin to fail, allowing the nub to travel the turn to unlatch the SCM without jacking the unit up first.

Pressure Compensation When possible it is always preferred to design subsea components to be free flooding, allowing the internal void areas to fill with sea water. Items such as umbilical termination assembles and accumulator modules are almost always designed this way. The subsea electronics module (SEM) obviously can not allow ingress of water, or the pressure that the water is under, as this pressure can effect the calibration of certain items within its circuits.

Fig 1 Owing to these factors, the SEM must be enclosed in a pressure vessel that is designed to withstand the seabed pressure where it is to be located. As part of its Factory Acceptance test (FAT) the SEM will be tested to 1.5X the working pressure. In the case of Foinaven some well heads are at 57 Bar water pressure, so the SEM will be tested to 85.5 Bar. Vetco Gray Controls have a policy of installing monitoring devices within the SEM vessel that can read back to the MCS the internal pressure and temperature of the SEM. This information can be used as an aid to fault diagnostics as well as give prior warning of a leak in the SEM vessel.


Fig2 Other components within a Subsea Control Module (SCM) will not generally be affected by the sea pressure. They would not be seriously affected by sea water in the short term, but it would reduce the units life owing to external corrosion on hydraulic components and eventual ingress of sea water into the electrical connections. To avoid this the SCM housing is made waterproof and filled with Transformer Oil (Dielectric oil). This oil is an insulating oil that can absorb small quantities of water to maintain the insulation.

Fig 3 Filling the SCM with oil at atmospheric pressure (1 Bar) will present problems when the SCM is run subsea. Unless the SCM housing is a pressure vessel the SCM housing would crush under the differential pressure between the subsea pressure and the 1 Bar oil pressure inside the SCM. This can be avoided by fitting a flexible barrier between the oil and the sea. This can take the form of a rubber bladder fitted to the top of the SCM junction box with sea water on the outside and oil on the inside (ref fig1). Or it may be by having the bladder fitted inside the junction box with oil on the outside and sea water on the inside (ref fig2). Or it could be achieved by making the whole side of the junction box a sheet of rubber (ref fig 3). The barrier would allow the pressure of the sea to be transferred to the oil, but for it to work fully would require almost total air exclusion from the oil. If this is not achieved the barrier may run out of flexibility before the compensation is achieved, as oil will not compress but a Gas will. This is achieved during the oil filling process. During the oil filling the SCM is connected to a vacuum pump that is used to pull the pressure in the SCM junction box down to 30 mbar or less. The vacuum will be held for a period of time and the pressure monitored to ensure there are no leaks that would be indicated by an increase in pressure. The oil will then be pulled in with the vacuum. By doing this the level of air entrapment will be kept to a minimum. During this process the compensation bladder will be filled with a known volume of water and sealed to prevent the bladder from expanding owing to the vacuum.


Reduced Umbilical Systems The umbilical represents a large investment in CAPEX (capital expenditure) and installation cost and it is therefore of interest to the operator to reduce its complexity in order to keep these costs to a minimum. Vetco Gray Controls has various control system hardware options available which help in optimising the system including the umbilical. Examples of some of these options follow: Comms-On-Power To reduce the number of electrical cores in the umbilical the process of overlaying the communications signal onto the subsea power supply can be employed. This effectively halves the number of electrical cores required in the umbilical and reduces the number of subsea electrical interfaces. Vetco Gray Controls has developed the use of Comms-on-Power modems. These are installed in the MCS and SCM in place of the standard modems used in a conventional system. Subsea High Pressure Intensifier

The SCSSV is usually the only high pressure function required to be controlled by the production control system. In order to control this single function a dedicated high pressure hydraulic line(s) is required in the umbilical. In order to reduce umbilical size, Vetco Gray Controls has developed the subsea High Pressure Intensifier to eliminate the requirement for this high pressure line(s). Installed in the control pod it takes its supply from the low pressure supply, as used by the valve actuators, and boosts it to the high pressure required to control the SCSSV. Additional cost savings associated with the use of the High Pressure Intensifier include the reduction in hydraulic couplings throughout the system and a reduced functionality HPU (only needs to generate low pressure hydraulic supply). Subsea Chemical Metering

Depending upon reservoir conditions some field operators may need to have chemicals injected into the subsea well at a metered rate. The conventional means of achieving this is to have individual chemical lines for each tree in the umbilical, with the rate at which the chemical is injected controlled topside. This means for every tree that requires chemical injection an additional line or lines are added to the umbilical, on a large field development this can add up. Vetco Gray Controls has developed the use of Chemical Metering Valves sited in the subsea control module to allow the metering of chemicals subsea 29

from a common header supplied by a single line in the umbilical. This means that a large subsea field development, e.g. for 12 trees, the number of chemical lines required can be reduced from 12 to potentially one (depending upon flow rates required). This can potentially give a massive saving in the umbilical and associated installation costs especially where long offset distances are involved.


The Master Control Station

It is not intended to go into fine detail on the subject of the MCS within this course as other courses dedicated to the subject are available. The Master Control Station (MCS) shown at Figure 4 provides the primary means through which the Platform control system (PCS) can control and monitor the subsea production control system. A local MCS Engineering station provides independent system control when necessary.

Fig 4 The Hudson MCS with the EPU to the Right. (Vax Based) The MCS provides a means of operating all hydraulically actuated subsea valves, via the SCM. It will automatically monitor subsea sensors, via the appropriate SEM, transfer this information onto the DCS via the serial link as well as displaying the received data on the Engineering station if requested. The MCS interfaces with the HPU and EPU sensors and transfers this information to the DCS as well as displaying the received data on the Engineering Station if requested. The MCS consists of one or two 19 inch computer rack which contains the following equipment VAX System FIO (PLEASE NOTE VAX SYSTEMS ARE NO LONGER SUPPLIED) Subsea Controllers (Computers A & B) On Line Selector (OLS) Visual Display Unit (VDU) Keyboard and associated drawer Graphics generator Unit Alarm/Indicator Status Panel Circuit Breakers FSK Isolation Boards Termination Rails. DCS/ PCS Modems


PC System Subsea controllers (computers A&B although some systems only have one) On line selector (OLS) but not if only one computer is fitted. Visual display unit (VDU) Computer selector (black box) Key board & mouse. Subsea Modem units (SMU's) Circuit breakers Termination rails. HPU motor control relays. DCS / HPU / PCS modems. The operation of the MCS is controlled by the two Subsea Controllers. Both controllers are identical and interchangeable containing the same operating system. One computer is designated the "Active" machine it takes control, the other machine designated as "Standby" collects and processes the same information but controls no outputs. The active machine will routinely update the standby machine, as necessary, via an interprocessor link. Should a failure occur in the active machine the standby machine is then ready to take immediate control of the system. The following modules are used within the computers A Main Processor Board with memory expansion and built in Ethernet Controller A Winchester Disc, a TK5O 95 Mbytes Tape Streamer and controller board. Or PD and CD drive.. Input Conditioning Boards which handle the Discrete Input/Outputs and the serial interface. FSK Modems which handle the subsea communications. Or subsea modem units (SMU's) A Watchdog board which monitors the operation of the computers. The Winchester / hard drives discs hold all the program and data files, whilst the data streamers or optical drives are incorporated for program dissemination and back up purposes. The input conditioning falls into three areas Discrete inputs which provides monitoring of the OLS, EPU and the ESDs. Discrete outputs which provide remote annunciation of faults and HPU recirculation pump and motor control. Serial Interfaces, to the HPU and the PCS.


VAX Based Systems. The FSK links consist of the FSK modem boards within the controllers and the FSK isolation boards which are within the MCS cabinet. The former provides the drive for the subsea communications link whilst the latter provides D.C. isolation between the subsea link and the computer system The FSK links are read only by the active controller and only the active controller will handle the outputs. To ensure that both controllers have up to date information an interprocessor link is provided. PC Based Systems With the introduction of the PC based computer, the use of FSK modem links where dropped in favour of the TC57 system that is now incorporated in all VG new build systems. With the use of conductive subsea connectors the need for 400 Hz power sub sea is no longer required. The old style Electrical power units (EPU's) have now been mostly replaced by Subsea Modem units (SMU's). These 19" rack mounted units supply the power and communications to the subsea system, as well as providing Line insulation monitoring. The On Line Selector (OLS), which is used to switch serial and digital outputs to the active controller dictates that only one of the controllers will be active at any one time. The OLS monitors the watchdog output from the controller and should the active controller fail it will enable the other controller to take control. The Local Engineering Station consisting of a keyboard, and a visual display unit although this will normally be powered down. It can however be used to provide an operator terminal if the PCS fails, it can also be used for off line servicing. Although to log onto the local engineering station as an operator removes the control from the PCS. Different levels of operator access to the system is obtained via the keyboard using passwords, this ensures that only authorised personnel can perform the relevant tasks.


Electrical Power Unit (EPU)

The EPU provides the 60Hz a.c or 400Hz power for the SCMs and the 24 volts D.C. power used by the surface equipment, the EPU is usually powered by the existing UPS. The duplex subsea power supply uses two 1KVA multi-tapped transformers with an output range of 240 -335 volts. Each transformer has a padlockable isolator and a circuit breaker in the primary circuit. Each transformer has a voltmeter, an ammeter and an output status relay in the secondary circuit. Each subsea power supply has a line insulation monitor (LIM) which is able to measure the insulation resistance of the umbilical cable. The Lim will deenergise a contractor in the transformer primary circuit if the adjustable present level is exceeded owing to earth leakage. The LIM provides a status output and also has an ohmmeter to display the line insulation resistance, it is also capable of operating while the umbilical is unpowered. The 24 volt power supply which powers the HPU interface modules and the MCS consists of two 24 volt supplies each capable of running the entire system. The supplies have their outputs consolidated. Each 24 volt supply is protected by a circuit breaker in its input circuit. The output circuit provides current limit and over voltage protection The power supplies provide a status output as well as an output indication. The EPU often used to house the barriers and interface modules associated with the HPU. The data is relayed to the MCS normally by two RS 232 serial links.


Subsea Electrical Philosophy

The subsea electrical system consists of power and communication links. It utilises conductive or inductive couplers which have both diver and Remotely Operated vehicle (ROV) style connectors. The Subsea Electronics Modules (SEMs) are installed within the Sub Sea Control Modules (SCM) provide the route through which the subsea wells are controlled and monitored The SEMs have the ability to activate the solenoids associated with each of the Directional Control Valves (DCVs); activation is by command of the surface Master Control Station (MCS) on a check and operate basis. Tree, manifold and SCM transducer information is also passed to the MCS. Communication with the MCS is via a dual high integrity communications link, ensuring correct solenoid operation and avoiding monitored data corruption. The MCS will continually monitor the traffic across the in use channel and in the event of a communications failure automatically switch to the other channel maintaining system control. In the event of a total failure the communications system will be left in its 'On Failure" condition. Power to the SEMs, which is also duplex is supplied by the surface Electrical Power Unit via dual cables within the umbilical. The dual power supply is consolidated within the SEMs and is continually monitored and its status fed back to the surface. The system can operate on a single supply but in the event of a complete failure the system will be left in its 'On Failure" condition.


Hydraulic Power Unit HPU

The Huson HPU This is a large unit mounted on the topside of the system. The Topside is the term used to describe the area that is not Sub Sea ( on the Sea Bed). This can be a fixed platform, a floating platform or dry land. The HPUs purpose is to generate the hydraulic pressure required to activate the various valves within the subsea System. To control a normal subsea well head the HPU is required to produce 2 pressures. A low pressure (LP) that is normally 207 bar or 3000 psi and a high pressure (HP) this can be ether 345 bar 5000 psi or 517 bar 7500 psi. The low pressure (LP) is used for general hydraulic power, for valve actuation. The High pressure (HP) is only used to operate the Down Hole Safety Valve. The hydraulic medium used on subsea control systems is a water glycol mixture, although in the past mineral oil has been used its use is now considered to be not environmentally friendly (as leak's are hard to detect) or economic as a return line from the subsea system is required (Closed System).Water glycol on the other hand is environmentally friendly and can be and vented directly into the sea using a total loss system requiring no return line. (Open System) Owing to the use of a total loss hydraulic system there is no actual return to the HPU


of used Hydraulic fluid. Even so Vetco Gray Controls do advise that the HPU is equipped with 2 reservoirs, a supply reservoir and a return reservoir. To understand this a knowledge of hydraulic cleanliness is required. Hydraulic cleanliness and the NAS class system. Dynamic hydraulic components, have by nature to consist of fine tolerance sliding fits. The fine tolerance, has to be geometric, linear and surface to achieve the seals required to contain the high pressures used. If the surface finish of a dynamic sealing face is scratched, the scratch could become a leak path across the seal. If not it could become a harbour for particles that would then abrade a leak path. For this reason all efforts are made during manufacture to maintain a high level of finish and cleanliness. Having gone to this effort at manufacture it is also necessary to maintain the cleanliness during use and for the systems designed life. To achieve this the fluid that is used has to be cleaned and filtered to a standard of particle contamination that the system is known to withstand, without undue ware. The first organisation to become aware of this requirement was the Aerospace industry. There use of small light weight Hi-integrity components that needed definitive service intervals called for a set of cleanliness levels that could be related to the life of each component. To this end the National Aeronautical standard 1638 was introduced. (NAS). The standard has 14 classes of particle contamination, 00, 0, 1 through to 12, the higher the standard the higher the level of contamination allowed. The level that is approved by Vetco Gray Controls for use in there products is referred to as NAS Class 6 (or better). This means that for every 100 ml sample of fluid taken the maximum number of particles in 5 size ranges must not exceed the following. 5 to 15 Microns 15 to 25 Microns 25 to 50 Microns 50 to 100 Microns Over 100 Microns 16000 2850 506 90 16

Refer. To Vetco Gray Controls document ZZ-001-012/Issue 2 for further information on this subject. (See Appendix)


The HPU's Circulation and filling system All HPU's have to have a method of filling there reservoirs. This is normally achieved by use of an integral self priming pump and filter system.

HPU Circulation system.

Hydraulic fluid is supplied by the manufacturer already clean to NAS 6, although in transit to the work site this often deteriates to as high as NAS 10. As a result of this it can never be assumed that a clean sealed barrel of fluid is clean. As mentioned before, the HPU is often fitted with a return reservoir, even though there is no return. This reservoir is used during the filling process. The fresh fluid is pumped via the fill pump into the return reservoir. This keeps the new fluid isolated from the fluid that is currently in use. By setting valves within the HPU a return reservoir clean up circuit can be set.


Fill / circulation pump as fitted to Hudson and Foinaven

Using the same pump as was used for filling the unit, the fluid is drawn from the bottom of the return reservoir passed through a large 3 micron filter and then back to the return reservoir. This circulation can be left running until a sample that is to NAS 6 or better is achieved. Once a clean sample is produced the now clean fluid can be transferred across to the supply reservoir, by use of the same pump. This system is known as the fill circ system and can be used to the following functions. 1. Fill the return reservoir. 2. Fill the supply reservoir. 3. Transfer fluid from the return to the supply manually. 4. Transfer fluid from the return to the supply automatically when there is fluid in the return tank and the supply tank is going low. 5. Circulate the return reservoir to clean up. 6. Circulate the supply reservoir to clean up. 7. Drain the return reservoir. 8. Drain the supply reservoir. Pressure Pumps There are basically 2 types of pressure pump used within Vetco Gray Controls Hydraulic power units. These are Electric power or Air power. Which type to use is determined by the field requirements and the customer preference.


Electric pumps. There are several types of electric pressure pump available, but they all work on the same principle with a 3 phase electric motor providing the power. Electric pumps can be specified to produce any combination of flow and pressure but are not self controlling. A separate switch has to be located down stream of the pump out put to cut the motor out when the desired pressure is reached. This can take the form of a pressure switch that cuts the control power, or a pressure transducer that sends a reading to a PLC unit that cuts the power when the desired pressure is reached. Air Driven Pumps. These pumps are only capable of producing a fairly low flow rate, but can produce very high pressures. There operation is quite strait forward (see Fig) It can be seen that compressed air enters the low pressure cylinder of the pump. This causes the high pressure cylinder to compress at the other end. So if the air piston surface area is 10 X the area of the high pressure piston then the resulting pressure output would be 10 X the pressure of the air supply. The pressure out put from these pumps is directly proportional to the air pressure input. So the pressure control can be easily and accurately achieved by regulating the air input to produce a pressure balance at the desired level.

Motor control It has already been mentioned that the pressure pumps must be controlled so as to shut them down when the correct pressure has been achieved. It is also necessary to be able to restart them when the pressure falls, in some units fitted with 2 pumps ( a duty and a stand by) the system needs to be Monitored so that if the pressure falls to a pre determined low low level both pumps will start.


It is necessary to make all the pumps stop operating and an alarm warning given in the event of the supply reservoir being run to a low level, or an emergency shut down (ESD) of the platform is required. Different projects have different HPU requirements. The motor control may be provided by local pressure switching with all power control being internal and as such represents a self contained unit. Other systems such as the Britannia HPU, the power from the motor managers is controlled by PLC's within the subsea engineering station (SES). With this system the PLC's receive a switching point from the SES that is provided by read-backs from the HPU's header pressure transmitters. The SES also monitors the other HPU read backs and will stop or inhibit the pumps in the event of low fluid level. This provides the operator the ability of changing the start and stop point pressures, from the SES key board. Where as with the pressure switch type a technician is required to reset the pressures at the switches within the HPU. The more common control system is to connect the motor supplies directly to the motor managers in the platform switch room. The pressure switches on the HPU are wired to relays in the back of the Master control station (MCS). These in tern switch on and off the 110 volt start and stop circuits to the motor managers and at the same time send a signal to the computers stating the run state of each pump. If air driven pumps are fitted this obviously has no effect and the MCS assumes that the pump is energised, unless the air supply is fitted with a pressure transmitter that will inform the MCS if the pressure drops to a level that can no longer energise the pump. Pressure Relief valves Each pressure pump output must be fitted with an over pressure relief valve that is capable of venting the full flow of the associated pump. This relief valve must be hard piped into the system and must not be given any form of isolation from the pump outlet System Filter Units Each pressure system (HP and LP) is fitted with a pair of 3 or 5 micron filters. These are fitted into the system as the first component after the pressure pumps have been consolidated.( see Fig). The filters are fitted as pairs to allow each to be isolated for maintenance without effecting the functionality of the HPU. In some systems the filters are fitted within a manifold with 2 position 3 way valves fitted so that only one valve can be selected at a time. It is essential that a third valve is fitted so to allow the venting of pressure after the filter has been isolated. It has proven impossible to remove the filter bowl to allow changing of the element without this feature. In the event that during normal service the duty filter becomes blocked a valve in the head of the filter body opens allowing the fluid to bypass the element. This will be signalled both locally by a visual indicator and remotely to the MCS via a desecrate signal from a pressure switch fitted to the filter head. Accumulators


To dampen the system, protecting it from hydraulic shock and to store pressurised Fluid for "on demand" use, all HPU's are fitted with a number of hydraulic gas filled Accumulator units. These are fitted in the LP and HP common header. They are normally of the Bladder type, but on some units the piston type are used in the HP system. The fluid connection to the accumulator is always protected with a relief valve and a block and bleed valve system to assist in maintenance without the need to vent the complete system.

Typical HPU Accumulator bank. 2 small units are HP Emergency Shut Down As all valves controlled in the system are of the spring return type, removing the hydraulic pressure will cause them to close. The HPU is equipped with vent valves on each of the outlets. These valves are solenoid operated and are held in the open position via a 24 volt signal from the platforms fire and gas emergency shut down (ESD) system. The ESD system has several levels of operation. Depending on the severity of the situation that has led to an ESD to be initiated the power to these valves may be isolated, so causing the valves to shift into there vent position bleeding down the subsea pressure and causing all the valves to close. This level of shut down would be in the catastrophic level as the valves would close in a random manor making restart difficult. For a full understanding of ESD system refer to the section on ESD sequencing. HPU Interfacing


The HPU is normally interfaced to the PJB by hard tube work, providing 2 High Pressure supplies and 2 Low Pressure supplies, as well as a PJB return. If an air pump is used then an air supply will be connected from the platform instrument air supply. This will be regulated within the HPU to provide the pressure balance required to maintain the desired hydraulic pressure. Also in the air supply will be fitted a solenoid valve that can cut the air supply and stop the pump in the event of an emergency shut down. The 440 volt supply to the electric pumps will be supplied from the motor managers in the platform switch room. The signals from the pressure switches will go to the Motor control cabinet (MCC) on the HPU. These will become part of the motor control circuit along with the reservoir low level cut out switches, manual pump enable switches and the local emergency stop buttons. If all these switches are closed then a 24 volt signal will be sent to the MCS that will close the contacts on the motor manager and the pump will start to run. Other information about the HPU is provided to the MCS via a serial link. These are the analogue values and include. Reservoir levels, header pressures, individual out put pressures (down stream of the ESD valves) and filter condition. The final interface is the 24 volt supplies to the emergency shut down valves (ESD). This supply comes from the platform fire and gas panel. Depending on the nature of the shut down can close and vent any of the hydraulic outputs and via the MCS inhibit any pump starts. Hydraulic Power Unit Location The HPU when installed on a fixed platform (jacket) will normally be placed on the lowest deck and open to the elements. Some units have been fitted in closed modules but this is unusual. When installed on a floating unit such as an FPSO (floating production storage and off loading vessel), the HPU would be installed in the mooring turret. It is always attempted to locate the HPU as close to the platform junction box (PJB)as possible.


Platform Junction Box (PJB)

The Platform Junction Box, or PJB, is the interface between the topside system and the subsea umbilical. It is normally installed at the point where the control umbilical rises onto the platform. This is normally the lower most deck or even on a cat walk below the lowest deck. The PJB is connected via hard tubing directly to the out puts from the HPU. It will also if required be hard piped back to the subsea chemical injection unit. To provide a connection for the power and comms going subsea a junction box is fitted. This is connected to the power from the Electrical Power Unit (EPU) and the Communications from the Master Control Station (MCS). The PJB will normally be furnished with a series' of block and bleed valves and a gauge on each pressure out put (hydraulic or chemical). These are to provide the following functions. Block and isolate the umbilical. Flush the pipe work from the pressure sources, while the umbilical is blocked (so as to retain pressure subsea. Simulate leakage's within the umbilical, to check the subsea response. (shuttle valve testing). Testing emergency shut downs (ESD) without venting subsea pressure. Testing emergency shut downs (ESD) without venting top side pressure.

The platform junction boxes used on directly controlled sub sea isolation valves (SSIV). Are often used as a control unit. The PJB may be fitted with electrically powered ESD valves on each subsea outlet as well as pressure transmitters Electrical and Hydraulic sub sea distribution system.


Subsea Control Umbilical

The umbilical is used to connect the topside control and chemical systems to the subsea system. With the offsets between the topside and the subsea getting longer and longer and longer the umbilical is often the most expensive single component of the system. Built by specialist manufacturers the umbilical is made is one length with no joints. The longest used with the VG system was 45 kilometres long. An umbilical to control a production subsea control system would normally consist of three 5000 psi hoses for the LP hydraulic, three 10,000 psi hoses for the HP hydraulic. Any number of 8000 psi chemical hoses. These vary from contract to contract and are dependent on the field requirements. Six 2 core power and communications cables. The components are laid together with fillers and packers between each part to provide a firm and stable pack. The bundle is then wrapped in a nylon wrap before being coated in a hard rubber sleeve. This is then bound with an armoured left-hand spiral wrap of stainless steel wire 1/8" diameter. This is then coated in bitumen before a second armour right hand spiral wrap of stainless wire 1/8" diameter. Once again this is coated in bitumen, finally wrapped with hemp coloured to the customer requirements. The manufacture is continuous with no joints in any of the components. The hoses and cables are manufactured and layered at a one off process. Each end of the umbilical length requires a method of termination. The umbilical termination assembly (UTA) is the subsea end of the umbilical. This is generally a boxed structure that the umbilical is attached to. Inside the box the umbilical internals are allowed to emerge from the armouring of the umbilical structure to allow termination to the electrical and hydraulic connectors located around the outside of the UTA. The topside end of the umbilical is sealed off to stop water ingress during installation. It is fitted with a collar from which the umbilical will eventually be hung and the end if fitted with a pull head referred to as a bull nose.

Load Out During manufacture the subsea/UTA end is made first and as the umbilical is made it is spooled onto a horizontal powered drum up to 10 metres in diameter - this is known as a carousel. Once complete the umbilical will be tested on this unit prior to load out. The lay vessel will also be fitted with a carousel. During load out the umbilical will be transferred from one to the other so that the subsea end is the last part to be loaded onto the vessel. If the umbilical is to be used with a diver installed system the UTA will be small enough to allow it to be fitted to the umbilical prior to load out. If it is to be used with a ROV installed system the UTA may have to be fitted after the load out owing to its physical size. The load out duration time varies according to the length of the umbilical but 24 to 36 hours is quite common.


Installation Once on location in the field the UTA with the umbilical attached will be lowered down to the seabed. The UTA will be pulled in and be secured to its landing point. This may be at the manifold, a distribution structure or sometimes the ETA may be free standing on the seabed (Foinaven). With the ETA secure the lay vessel will move off towards the platform, laying the umbilical as it goes into a pre-ploughed trench. A survey vessel will follow monitoring the progress by an ROV, before a plough vessel covers it in again. Once at the platform the bull nose at the end of the umbilical will be attached to a pull line which is fed from a winch on the platform, down a pipe know as the 'J' tube to the sea bed. The remaining umbilical will be lowered to the sea bed and then using the winch will be pulled up the 'J' tube. The umbilical will eventually be hung from the top of the 'J' tube. Once this has been done it will be possible for the umbilical to be terminated into the platform junction box. Once installation is complete and all testing has been carried out successfully the bottom of the 'J' tube will be sealed around the umbilical. The cavity between the 'J' tube and the umbilical will then be flushed of sea water and replaced with clean potable water. Reduced Umbilical Systems See SCM Section on these developments. The umbilical represents a large investment in CAPEX and installation cost and it is therefore of interest to the operator to reduce its complexity in order to keep these costs to a minimum. Vetco Gray Controls has various control system hardware options available which help in optimising the system including the umbilical


Weak Links
Many customers in the past, chose to lay large sections or even the entire umbilical on the sea bed unprotected by trenching or rock dumping. These umbilicals were at risk of being snagged by trawlers or ship anchors, if located in shallow waters. Such snagging could rise to the umbilical being dragged across the sea bed causing damage that could only be rectified by the total replacement of the unit, at huge cost. To resolve this problem one end of the Subsea jumper or umbilical would be protected by a weak link. The weak link may take on several forms but the most common was where the jumpers that ran from the UTA to the subsea structure passed through holes cut into 2 sliding shear plates. One plate would be connected to the structure and the other connected to the UTA. The UTA would be connected to the structure by a shear pin. In the event of an incident the shear pin would brake, the UTA would be pulled away from the structure causing the shear plates to slide against each other as they came away physically slicing the hoses and cables. This is a fail safe option as the cut hoses would vent all down stream pressure causing all the valves to close. A repair would require the manufacture and fitting of a new set of jumpers but in theory the umbilical would not be damaged.

The main umbilical UTA weak link assembly under test installation on the Hudson manifold. Note the sheer gates in the open installation position and the swivelling reaction post on the right.


The same Hudson weak link after the gates have been closed. (note only 2 hoses installed for test. Photos taken at the Nigg Bay fabrication site, during the 1994 Hudson manifold integration test. Another popular type used on the smaller subsea jumpers that run from the manifold to the trees, consist of two plates fitted with hydraulic and electrical connectors. The two plates are held together with a shear pin latch. In the event of an incident the shear pin would brake allowing the two halves to separate. The valve side of the hydraulic connectors are not fitted with self sealing valves so the valves would close but the controlled side would be fitted with sealing valves so stopping fluid pressure blowing away. If the valve side was fitted with sealing valves it would not be possible to vent the pressure leaving the valves and the well / wells uncontrolled.

Weak link fitted to a Hudson tree


Subsea Electrical Distribution

The UTA at the sub sea end of the umbilical provides 1 pair of channel A power and communications and 1 pair of channel B power and communications. As the power and communications have to be shared by all the SCMs a method of splitting has to be provided. This is done by connecting the UTA power and communications to an electrical distribution module (EDM).

The Lyell Electrical distribution module Fitted with inductive couplers. The cannel A and B power and communications come in on one side with the correct number of outputs to power all the SCM's in the system, with additional outlets for future expansion, as well as through connections to connect a second system.


Subsea Hydraulic Distribution

One of the 2 Hudson Hydraulic and electrical power/communications Distribution modules. As with the electrical distribution, the Hydraulics and chemicals have also to be distributed. This is normally carried out with a closed loop header system with block and bleed valves fitted at each outlet. This allows an SCM to be removed without venting down the entire system and in doing so shutting down production on the entire system.


Well Construction
Contrary to popular opinion, an oil well is not a hole drilled in the ground with a cavern full of oil at the bottom. The oil is held in a bed of sand that acts like a giant sponge. A well is an intricate and complex peace of engineering and is increasing in complexity all the time. In any field development the most expensive component to produce and commission is the well its self.

Drilling a well on a new field is a dive into the unknown. Even with all the high tech survey equipment at the geologists disposal there is still no guarantee that what they find will be oil, gas, water or an interesting strata of sand stone with a huge fault down the middle. Modern drilling techniques have helped. With the advancements in directional and horizontal drilling techniques the geologists are able to tune the wells arrival into the field by studying the rock cuttings pushed out of the well by the Mud. From this information the driller can kick the drill off in a different direction, or even pull back a few hundred feet before trying another angle. It has become common practice in modern wells to enter the field horizontally. This allows the perforation of the well to be carried out over a long length. This practice improves production as the oil is drawn from a larger area of sand with less velocity across each orifice so reducing sand production. A well is initially drilled as a series of steps getting smaller and smaller. As each step is drilled it is lined with a steel tube and the gap between the tube and the rock filled with cement. This provides a very strong foundation for the start of the well. The main section is drilled at between 12 and 7 inch diameter and may be steered and controlled in any direction, but still is sleeved and back filled with cement.


The drill pipe or string is made up of sections of pipe. Mud is pumped down the centre. The angle that the mud is jetted into the cutting bit controls the direction of the drill. The mud then returns up the outside of the drill string taking with it all the drill cuttings. As the mud arrives back on the rig its return is regulated causing the well to remain at pressure. The mud travels through a peace of equipment known as a shale shaker that removes all the cuttings before being pumped at high pressure back down the well through the drill string. Finally arriving within the field, the oil is held down by the pressure of the mud that is pumped down the centre of the drill string and the backpressure maintained on the return. Sampling the returned mud and analising its content gives the reservoir engineers the information that they need about the well and field. From this information they can calculate when and where to finish the drilling process. With the drilling complete the well is closed of at the bottom with steel and concrete allowing the mud pressure to be removed and the well cleaned.


Lower well construction and components With the well complete, the production tubing is run down. The tubing divides the annulus from the production. The production pressure can vary over a time, the tubing is allowed to flex with the linear expansion. If there was no tubing and the product allowed to flow up the annulus the temperature changes would cause the Steel and concrete to crack. At the start of the tubing is fitted a device called a perforation gun. This device is used to brake away the concrete at the base of the well to allow the oil or gas to enter. It is an explosive device, which makes the operation of perforating a well very hazardous. Above the perforation gun will be found the Down Hole Pressure and Temperature gauge. (DHPT) above this is the Down Hole Safety Valve (DHSV). Above this is the long run up to the Tubing hanger on the seabed from which it is all hung.


Spring close Gate valves. There are several types of actuator that the VG control system will be required to function. The most wide spread and simplest is a basic spring return gate valve. These valves are fitted in the well head trees and in various locations on the distribution manifold. Hydraulic pressure from the SCM is used to act on a piston that pushes against a spring and pulls the gate to and open position. When the pressure is vented the spring pushes back, so closing the valve. These valves come in various sizes from small 1" units for Chemical injection, to large 10" units for production flow cut valves on the Tree and

manifold. Spring closed Ball valves These valves are used primarily as sub sea isolation valves (SSIV's). There operation is basically the same as the spring operated gate valve but has the benefit of a ball valves speed in operation, positive sealing, does not increase the pressure in the system on closing and when open presents no restriction to the flow. There main draw backs are they are very expensive to manufacture and only seal in one direction. Actuated ball valves can range in size from 6" to any size that a spring can move, the largest controlled by a VG system is on the Ninian Solm Voe SSIV and the Cleeton Dimligton SSIV at 36"each. Hydraulic actuated open and close Ball Valves.


These valves are also used for SSIV systems, but do require stored hydraulic accumulated power subsea to effect a close. The largest of this type of valve controlled by a VG system is the Solom voe SSIV valve bellow the Ninian Central platform, at 36"dia.This style of valve is also used as a pigging valve, as full control of this type of valve is necessary and accidental closing can prove to be expensive.(see section on pigging operations). Hydraulic actuated open and close Ball Valves. These valves are also used for SSIV systems, but do require stored hydraulic accumulated power subsea to effect a close. The largest of this type of valve controlled by a VG system is the Solom voe SSIV valve bellow the Ninian Central platform, at 36"dia.This style of valve is also used as a pigging valve, as full control of this type of valve is necessary and accidental closing can prove to be expensive.(see section on pigging operations). Choke Valves

Choke valve (Britannia) The purpose of the choke valve is not to open or close completely, but to restrict the flow when required to very precise tolerances. There are currently 2 types of choke valve readily available. The most common type is the stepped unit. This choke moves from the open to the close, or closed to open, position via a series of steps 1 through to 100. So each step represents 1% of the total travel. The steps are produced by opening and closing a DCV in the control module. Each open and close actuates a pawl and ratchet, so moving the choke 1% one way or the other. This is a very slow process, with some chokes taking over half an hour to complete a full travel from closed to open. Within the SCM there are 2 DCV assigned to each choke one to pulse it open and one to pulse it closed. The second type of choke is the motor driven type. This is a hydraulic motor. Once more controlled by 2 DCV's.. Much faster than the step type, but gains its position information from the 4-20 mA sensor, as a result is not as accurate.


The actual motion of the choke, is monitored by a 4-20 mA sensor. This sensor is connected to the SCM that reports the true position of the choke to the MCS. Down Hole Safety Valves (DHSV) or (SSSV) The down hole safety valve, is a simple flap valve that is fitted inside the production tubing right down toward the bottom of the well. They require high pressure hydraulics to open them as the actuation pressure has to passed down to the valve a long way through a very small tube. The resulting restriction produces a massive reduction in pressure at the valve. Also the flap valve has to be opened against the well pressure. This would not be possible unless the differential pressure across the valve is reduced to almost zero. The valve will close on loss of pilot pressure or if the flow rate across the valve reaches a pre set limit. This feature is to protect the well in the case of loss of control at the well head.


The Well Head Tree

The Well Head Tree is the production control unit at the top of the well (the well head). It was given the name of Christmas Tree when they first appeared in the Middle Eastern deserts as from a distance there appearance was that of a Christmas Tree. The modern subsea equivalent bears little resemblance although it does the same job.

A Hudson Field Tree. (A Vertica ltree, shown on its flow base with a control umbilical weak link fitted)

The well head stump will have the top of the well production tubing exposed normally 5" dia. with a smaller 2" tube next to it that connects to the wells annulus. There will also be 2 electrical and one hydraulic connections. These are to provide power to the well perforation system, communications to the down hole pressure and temperature gauge (DHPT) and hydraulic actuation pressure for the down hole safety valve (DHSV).


Down hole pressure and temperature transmitters. (DHPT) In the last few years these gauges have proven to be very popular, as the information that they read back is very useful to the reservoir engineers as well as production. The gauge is fitted in the production tubing, just bellow the down hole safety valve. Owing to its location even if all the valves are shut in the pressure and temperature of the field can still be read. The readings sent back are commonly 3000 psi and 140 DegC. The gauges are normally about 30 mm in diameter and 1meter long. They provide a varying frequency up a single wire and armoured cable (this looks like co-axe cable). The information is processed by a card within the SEM that is supplied by the gauge manufacturer, prior to it being passed up to the MCS. Down Hole Safety Valves (DHSV) or (SSSV) The down hole safety valve, is a simple flap valve that is fitted inside the production tubing right down toward the bottom of the well. They require high pressure hydraulics to open them as the actuation pressure has to passed down to the valve a long way through a very small tube. The resulting restriction produces a massive reduction in pressure at the valve. Also the flap valve has to be opened against the well pressure. This would not be possible unless the differential pressure across the valve is reduced to almost zero. The valve will close on loss of pilot pressure or if the flow rate across the valve reaches a pre set limit. This feature is to protect the well in the case of loss of control at the well head. Traditional Vertical Trees Flow Base

Flow Base


On to this stump is fitted the trees flow base. This is a flat square frame with 4 guide posts (one on each corner). It is fitted with an interface to the production flow line to connect the tree to the manifold, as well as connections for control power, hydraulics and chemical injection. The Tree On to the flow base is fitted the well head tree. A basic tree will consist of 4 hydraulic operated valves and 2 manual valves (ROV operation).

Production Master Valve (PMV) Often known as the lower production master valve (LPMV). This will be a large hydraulic open spring closed gate valve. With this valve closed all tree functions will be isolated. It normally has a slow travel time. Opening may take as long as 100 seconds. On some trees a second PMV valve may be fitted known as the upper production master valve (UPMV). This valve can only be opened or closed by ROV intervention and is for maintenance only. It is a legal requirement that before any attempt can be made to brake into a hydrocarbon system for any reason, there must be a minimum of 2 blocks between the product and the intervention. If the production pressure transmitter is to be replaced on a live well both the LPMV and the UPMV must be closed. Above the PMV is the trees production core. It is within this area that the production temperature and pressure will be measured and read back to the SCM and any chemicals will be injected into the well flow. Production Wing Valve (PWV) The PWV is the trees out put valve. It can also be used with the PMV to create a double block to the well if work needs to be done on the flow base on the flow line. The PWV is often designated as the flow cut valve (FCV) by the ESD system. The flow cut valve is the valve that is used to scam the oil flow off in an emergency. This places a great deal of stress on the valve. The AWV is used as it is down stream of PPT so with the AWV closed the tree


head pressure is still known and is locked into the system. (A well pressure is required for well re-start. See Section on Well Commissioning). Production SWAB Valve (PSV) The PSV is located at the very top of the tree block. It is only activated by diver/ROV as it will only be opened during work over operations when the tree cap is removed and an LRP is installed. It's primary role is that of a double block to the tree cap. Annulus Swab Valve (ASV) The ASV is located at the very top of the tree block. It is only activated by diver/ROV as it will only be opened during work over operations when the tree cap is removed and an LRP is installed. It's primary role is that of a double block to the tree cap. Annulus Master Valve (AMV) The well annulus is a void space around the production tubing. It's basic role is to provide cushion for movement of the production tubing caused by temperature and pressure changes. Recently it has been also used to pump gas down the well for gas lift operations. Oil rising from the field is hot but as it rises will cool down. This has to be monitored by the PPT and APT and the pressure balanced by operation of the cross-over valve. If this is neglected it has been known for the production tubing to collapse or split. The Tree Cap The tree cap closes at the top of the tree and acts as a second barrier to the SWAB valves.


When fitted it also hydraulically connects the actuators to the SCM via tube loops. When the tree cap is not fitted the SCM will have no control over the tree valves. This is to allow the work over control system to take over when the lower riser package (LRP) replaces the tree cap. Prior to starting tree control testing through an SCM always check with the tree vendor that the tree cap is fitted as SCM testing is the only time it is required and it often cannot be seen from the ground. Horizontal Trees In resent times many companies have opted for the new Horizontal Tree design. The advantages of these trees is there low profile. Some operators include that the tubing hanger is part of the tree as being an advantage, as the tree must be run before the production tubing is run. Once the tubing has been run the well can be immediately tested and used. Other operators consider this to be a disadvantage, as to recover the tree the Tubing must also be pulled. Horizontal Tree


Tree installation
Emergency disconnect package (EDP) and Lower Riser Package (LRP)

Foinaven Tree fitted with its LRP and EDP.



Well Start Up
With the well perforated and complete for production. All tree valves must be in the closed position, this includes the production choke. The first valve to open is the DHSV. The opening of this valve will cause hot crude oil to rush up the well to the PMV. This action would cause the oil to cool very quickly, causing an effect known as slugging. Slugging is where the oil cools quickly causing it to wax and take on the consistency of tar. Another effect is that the production tubing would heat up the annulus and expand the methanol in the annulus void, upon opening the PMV and PWV the oil would flow causing a drop in pressure in the production tubing. This can cause the increased pressure in the annulus to crush the production tubing. This is known as tube collapse and is considered to be the most expensive failure in oil exploration. Depending on the tree design this can be avoided by opening the AMV and the XOV. In doing this the pressure across the tree is balanced. Methanol is then injected into the well from the trees Methanol injection point above the PMV. with the PMV, The XOV, and the AMV all open the methanol is injected into the well. The pressure transmitter at the AMV or Above the PMV monitors the pressure. Allowing for the depth of the DHSV and the DHPT the system is pressurised to a pressure equal to the field pressure. To open the DHSV there should be little differential pressure across the valve (The DHSV is a flap valve that opens against the flow). With the production tubing, annulus and tree core pressurised to field pressure and confirmed by the production pressure transmitter A command may now be sent to the DHSV to open. As the well bore is full and to pressure, the DHSV will now open but owing to the lack of differential pressure there will be no rush, but instead the crude will mix with the methanol and slowly warm the well. No slugging or waxing should occur. As the AMV and the XOV are open the annulus and the production tubing will now be at an equal pressure. It is important that this state exists during start up as the warming up of the production tubing will cause the tubing to expand into the annulus causing the annulus pressure to increase. If the annulus is fully filled with liquid the production tubing will be unable to expand, defeating the purpose of the annulus and causing the tubing to be damaged. With the well and tree bores stabilised, the production wing valve may now be opened. With the PWV open all that is stopping export is the chock valve. The chock valve must be opened slowly to no more that 50% at this time. Otherwise waxing and slugging will occur in the export system (be that the manifold, template or flow lines). The first oil from a new well or field will always be initially flared off. It is surprising how long it takes for the product to flow to the topside facility on a


new development. The AHL Hudson field with an 11 Kilometre offset took 9 hours to push through to the Tern alpha.

Chemical Methanol

Injection Point Production Trees

Corrosion Inhibitor

Production Xmas Trees


Production / test Headers on Manifold Production/Test Headers and the Manifold

Wax Inhibited

Scale Inhibitor

Production tree

Frequency Frequency Prior to and during start up. Whenever a long shutdown is anticipated Continuous once The production watercut develops tubing will not be protected by this system Continuous if emulsion problems occur At low flowrates, Recommended a when arrival dosage of 150 temperature is low. ppm. Design work Prior to a planed should assume shut down. 500 ppm. Continuous once The injection point watercut develops. at the tree will prevent scale deposition downstream of the choke

List chemicals injected, where and why.



The Britannia manifold. Probably the last of the giants. No oil or gas field worth developing would ever be expected to produce through one well. Owing to the oil bearing strata formation and the need for water injection the minimum is usually three wells. One water injection and two production. Once the oil has been produced to the well head on the sea bed it needs to be flowed to the location of the first process equipment for separation and pumping. This would normally be an existing platform. As the subsea wells may be 50 kilometres away from the platform each well would not have its own flow line back, instead the oil is flowed from each well to a manifold where all the wells are consolidated into one

Typical manifold layout with only 2 trees shown for clarity.


flow line back to the platform. Subsea manifold are as diverse as anything used in the offshore. They can be literally two pipes teed into one or they can be huge cathedral structures capable of controlling and diverting 30 wells independently down five flow lines, injecting water, injecting chemicals, monitoring sand production from each well, monitoring corrosion formation within its pipework, measuring production flow rate from each well as well as pressure and temperature. They can be so large and so complete in their ability to monitor and control that they require two full functioning SCMs to look after them. Template Manifolds Template well heads where first used for pre drilling wells prior to a platform installation. The system is used to accurately space the wells at the sea bed so that when the platforms jacket is put in place, the risers will line up and easily connect. The template system is now being used with subsea completion, by fitting multiple trees to a common structure that is often also used as the manifold. This results in the wells being drilled very close together at the sea bed before they are kicked out into a field spread. The advantages of such a completion are that the SCMs can be grouped together with hard piping connecting them to the tree actuators. This removes the need for subsea jumpers joining the manifold to each of the trees. The disadvantages are that with the wells being so close together at the sea

bed, places only a small amount of sea bed medium between each head. Depending on the structure of the sea bed this can result in the system being unusable owing to instability. In addition to this, the wells being so close together, restricts the number of work over vessels that can work at any one time to one.


Flow Lines
Production Flow lines Production Flow Lines are the pipelines which flow the raw crude from the manifold to the first process location (platform or FPSO). Most subsea fields would have two production flow lines sizes at 8" or 10" diameter. Manufactured from welded steel they would be laid into a trench which is cut into the sea bed and buried to avoid damage from passing trawlers etc. It is normal that one flow line would be defined as high pressure and the other as low pressure. Crude is delivered from the tree to the manifold. The first action would to control is flow rate using a choke valve. This valve may either be fitted on the tree or on the manifold. Once the flow rate is controlled the pressure and temperature would be measured using a 4-20 mA transmitter. This is also the point at which a sand detector may be fitted. The product may now be diverted down one of three flow lines. These are P1HP, P2LP and test. The reason for the LP and HP flow lines is that well pressures can vary. One well may be producing at 100 bar but another may be only producing at 30 bar. If both wells attempted to be exported in the same flow line the production would be very disappointing as a large quantity of the high pressure well's production would be overcoming the low pressure well and going back down into the field. The flow pressure well would not produce at all. The Test Flow Line With maybe eight production wells to be consolidated at the manifold into two production flow lines production from the wells is mixed together. With exception of temperature and pressure it is not possible to analysis the performance of one well or to sample the crude from just one well. To achieve this the one well can be exported down the test flow line. The test flow line is a small version of the two production flow lines. It is designed to export from the manifold the production and full flow from one well. This gives the operators the opportunity to flow test and sample the product from just the one well. Bundled Pipelines


Production Enhancement
Water Injection When a new field is discovered and developed the initial field pressure is quite high, allowing oil to rise and to force the field pressure alone. As the oil is removed the pressure drops and production is slowed down. To maintain the feed pressure new wells are drilled to the field at specific locations. These wells are identical to production well in construction but are used to inject huge quantities of high pressure clean water into the field and in so doing replacing the pressure that has been lost owning to the production. Gas Lift Gas lift is a fairly new and has proven very successful as a means of increasing field production. Recovered gas that would normally be flared off is re-compressed and pumped down the well annulus where it is re-injected into the oil production flow. This aeration causes the density and viscosity of the oil to form, so increasing the rate at which the oil travels up the well. Gas Disposal Wells In the past, oil production platforms would only produce oil. Any gas that was produced being flared of in a thunderous flame that was always associated with off shore platforms. The image of the flair brought about public concern and was looked on as being an incredible waist of natural resources. This was of course was true, but it was environmental pressure that finally all but stopped the practice. All flaring in the British and Norwegian sectors of the North Sea is now metered and the operators have to pay a heavy tax on all gas that has been flared off. Money talks and in no time the gas that was being flared was being exported back to the land. In the North Sea production facilities are still flaring if it is still uneconomic to export. But almost all oil platforms will carry a small flair to maintain the facilities emergency blow down facility and to burn off any over pressure vented product. This is a system where if an emergency shut down is initiated all pressurised hydrocarbons are vented to the flair and burnt off. In the West of Shetland fields, the gas produced cannot be exported as there is insufficient to be commercially viable. It can not be flared either as West of Shetland developments are not allowed to flair as a day to day operation. The produced gas in this situation is reinjected back into the field down a well called a gas disposal well. It has been found that this action can result in improved production from adjacent production wells owing to the aeration and lowering of the density of the oil. Sand and Corrosion Sensors When producing oil it is a fact of life that oil is not all that is produced. If it were then the need for offshore production platforms would vanish. The oil is held in sand strata that acts like a sponge. When the oil is produced is comes up with water, gas, hydrate and a quantity of sand that the oil was held in.


The water and the gas can be produced back to the platform before it is separated out but the sand cannot as the erosion damage it can cause to the system can be catastrophic. Although a level of sand production cannot be avoided on some field it must be kept to a minimum. This can be done by careful control of the production rate by the well choke or the gas lift rate via the annulus choke. To achieve this the actual sand production rate from each well must be monitored. This has proven to be a challenge. The current design consists of placing four metal pads in the flow line from the tree. These read back at 4-20 reading to the SCM. A brand new pad would read 4 mA. The presence of sand would start to erode the pad and in doing so the current would increase. This would cause an alarm so the necessary action may be taken to reduce the sand production. After a period of time the pads would wear out and the reading would be 20 mA. At this time the sensor unit would have to be replaced, but as long as the operator responds to the alarm and the sand production has been kept to a minimum there is no reason why the sensor should not last the life of the system. Corrosion Sensing Crude oil contains all types of aggressive chemicals that the cause the build up of scale within the system or the corrosion of the system. Both effects can be combated by injection of scale inhibitor or corrosion inhibitor chemicals, but it is a fine balancing act. Injecting scale inhibitor will stop the build up of scale but will promote the effect of corrosion. Corrosion inhibitor will help to prevent the corrosion but promotes the build up of scale. To assist the operators in knowing what to pump and when many systems are now being fitted with corrosion sensors at the manifold end of the flow lines. These sensors work in the same way as a sand detector but instead of the single increasing owning to an erosion of the pads it is increased by corrosion. Temperature and Pressure transmitters. Pressure and temperature transmitters are installed at strategic positions on the subsea production train. Commonly. At the tree. 1 between the PMV and the PWV. 1 between the AMV and the AWV.

Pressure transmitter Fitted to the Hudson Manifold


1 Down Stream of the choke valve. 2 (duel redundant)on the start of each flow line. These transmitters use the 4-20 mA signal and can be of any range. A pressure transmitter that has a range of 0-300 bar would read 4mA at 0 bar and 20 mA at 300 bar. Flow metering A standard industrial flow meter consists of a turbine wheel placed in the product flow. Each turbine blade is fitted with a small magnet, as the product flows through the turbine it turns, a sensor outside the unit counts the frequency that the magnets pass. From this information the flow rate can be calculated. This type of meter is very good when used with non aggressive mediums such as water and where easy access for maintenance is possible. They are not suitable for use with crude oil at the bottom of the sea.

Modern solid state venturi flow meters fitted to the water injection system of the Hudson manifold


In resent years a new type of solid state flow meter has been developed for this purposes. It works on the venture principle, where a fluid passing along a pipe is restricted. The pressure across the restriction drops as the flow rate goes up. If a pressure transmitter is located at the restriction and on one side of the restriction the 2 pressures can be measured as a differential pressure and used to calculate the flow rate.


From time to time all equipment will require maintenance and attention that cannot be carried out subsea. At this time the piece of equipment will have to be recovered to the surface for refurbishment or repair. Diver Installed Systems The advantage of diver systems is that at this time a diver can do and see far more that an ROV. This can mean that if a transmitter on a tree fails, a diver can replace it in situe. While an ROV system would require the entire tree to be recovered to the surface. With many diver systems, the SCM's are mounted on the manifold or in separate structures. This gives the divers ample room to work in and allows for easy equipment change out, using simple air bags and tirfors. When being installed by diver, smaller components such as SCM's can be lowered to the seabed, adjacent to its landing place by the vessels crane. From this position the component can then be carefully moved into its final location by air bag. Larger equipment or equipment that must be installed directly on to its location, is often run down on guide wires. Guide wires can only be used if the original equipment was designed for there use. Guide Wires A well head tree will always be deployed by guide wire. The 4 wires are run from beneath the rotary floor (rig floor above the moon pool) through the moon pool and down to the flow base where they will be attached to the tops of the 4 guide posts, by ROV or diver. When the tree is moved over the moon pool the guide wires will be fitted into slots in the 4 guide tubes on each corner of the tree. Once the wires are all in place they are held in with gates at the top and the bottom of each slot. As the tree is being run the guide wires are tensioned causing the guide tubes to follow the wires over each of the flow base guide posts. This allows the tree to land in the correct orientation without any other assistance. Deep Water ROV installed SCM Balder landing base fitted on the tree


An SCM that is intended for ROV installation has to be run directly onto its landing base. This has to be done accurately to avoid damage to the mating components. Provision has also to be given to activate the SCM's lock down system. To achieve this a running tool has to be used. These can take one of two forms of guidance. The first being guide wires and guide posts. The other requires the ROV to guide the SCM and its running tool into a funnel that surrounds the Landing base. Running tool SCM (Guide Wire )

Balder SCM inside the running tool landing on to the landing base The Running Tool is used to install and retrieve the SCM. It is a carbon steel fabrication which locates over the SCM. An ROV-operated latch mechanism interfaces with the top of the SCM's Podlock, which is designed for lifting the module. At the top of the Running Tool a worm and wheel gearbox provides the ROV (equipped with torque tool) with the means to tighten or release the Podlock screw mechanism. This type of SCM running tool is used with guide wires and guide posts to provide the guidance onto the landing base. As the running tool and SCM are lowered by the workover vessels crane, it is possible that the SCM could arrive on the landing base at an unacceptable speed. This could course damage to the landing base or the SCM. To avoid this the running tool is equipped with a 2 stage damping system. The first stage acts as a shock absorber, decelerating the running tool before it comes to land on the 2nd stage. This stage holds the SCM off of the landing base so that no couplers are made up. With the running tool and the SCM in this position, the cranes lift is released. The ROV will then open a valve on the running tool. Opening this valve allows hydraulic fluid in the damper rams to be vented. This allows the SCM to lower onto the landing base slowly so as to make a good connection. On poorer designed running tools the vented oil from the running tool is allowed to vent to sea. Apart from the obvious pollution this causes, it also means that the dampers have to be recharged


before they can be used again. (Troll project). The better designs the vented fluid is released into a bladder barrier, where it is stored until the weight of the RT/SCM is removed from the dampers. At this time the weight of the damper

pistons will draw the oil back in. ready for the next time. (Total ANE)

SCM Running Tool (SCMRT) Guide Funnel. The Running Tool is used to install and retrieve the SCM. It is a carbon steel fabrication which locates over the SCM and fits inside the SCMMB guide funnel. A ROV-operated latch mechanism interfaces with the top of the SCM's Podlock, which is designed for lifting the module. At the top of the Running Tool a worm and wheel gearbox provides the ROV (equipped with


torque tool) with the means to tighten or release the Podlock screw mechanism. Projects that utilise Guide wire Running tools include. Troll, Alwyn North Extension (ANE), Balder and Blackback. The Foinaven SCM is run on guide wires but does not use a running tool supplied by VG, but uses a universal tool that is used for various component changes within the system. The Diver installed Britannia SCM's are run on guide wires but without a running tool.


Subsea isolation valve

When a product is produced from the platform it is pumped down a pipe to the sea bed, then exported via a pipe line. Within 300M of the platform a valve is fitted, to shut off flow in the event of an emergency. What sort of emergency ? In the event of an incident where the export pipeline or the production train itself are damaged allowing hydrocarbons to be released to atmosphere, production would be shut down de-pressurising the system and preventing any more product from being released. But the product that had already been exported would now be coming back from the export line uncontrolled. This is what happened in the Piper field in 1988 with tragic results. It is now a mandatory requirement that all production facilities that export there product in this way must be protected. To achieve this a Ball valve is placed in the export line 300 M from the facility. The valve is held open via direct hydraulics. But if the pressure in the hydraulic line is vented then the valve would close. This function is ideal for direct hydraulic control, as there are few functions (often only one) and the offset from the pressure source is only 300 to 400 M.


New Innovations
Vetco Gray Controls commitment to continuous product development and research, has resulted in many new and exciting additions to our product range. The new products have and are being developed to provide the customer with options that can improve there productivity and reduce there installation and running cost. High Integrity Pipeline Protection System (HIPPS) HIPPS makes it possible to reduce subsea pipeline project costs by up to 30% because of decreased pipeline thickness and material usage - without compromising safety. HIPPS incorporates autonomous functions for continuous monitoring of the pipeline pressure and instantaneous shut down of the pipeline if the pressure should rise to a pre-set threshold value. The system basically consists of a choke to maintain a continuous pressure, barrier valves to shut in if pressure increases and a high integrity control module.


Pigging Operations
Pigs A pig is a cylindrical unit that is pushed, pulled, blown or sucked up or down the pipe line/flow line. There are a variety of different types of pigs that are capable of many task. Rubber pigs This type of pig is a cylindrical lump of steel with a series of rubber flat rings around it. The diameter depends on the diameter of the pipe that has to fit them. It is used for generally cleaning of the pipe line, often pushed along by the product flow but can also be used for new pipework de-watering. In this mode it is pushed down the pipe line by nitrogen gas, pushing the water out in front of it. Scouring and Wire Pigs This is similar to the rubber pig and is often used together. Instead of rubber ring the pig is fitted with rings of hard wire. They are used for de-scaling and polishing. Intelligent Pigs These pigs are self propelled. They can send back pictures, sound, infra-red images and ultrasound. They can measure the wall thickness of the pipe, carry out crack detection and all while the pipeline is in full flow production. A pig is launched into the flow line from a pig launcher. This is located on the platform. As it reaches the subsea end of the flowline facilities are made within the manifold to return the pig up the other flowline by what means of what is referred to as a pigging loop. Each end of the pigging loop is closed off by a pigging valve. So as to allow the operators to know when the pig has arrived at the manifold and open the pigging valve to send the pig into the pig loop the manifold is equipped with pig detectors. These are movement centres that are fitted on the outside of the pipework and can sense when the pig passes. The information is sent back to the master control station which sends up an alarm to inform the operators.


Appendix 1 Projects to date. Production Well Control Projects 1981 BP Magnus 8 Well control 1988 BP Don 4 Well control 1990 Total ANE 3 Well control 1992 Conoco Lyell 8 Well control 1992 Exxon Zinc ? Well control 1993 Hydro Troll ? Well control 1994 AHL Hudson 8 Well control 1995 BP Foinaven 18 SCMs 1996 Saga Vigdis 15 SCMs 1996 Repsol Poseidon 3 Well control 1996 Britannia 8 Well control 1996 Esso Balder 15 Well control 1997 BP Troika 6 Well control 1997 Chevron Alba 2 Well Control 1997 Marathon Arnold 3 Well Control 1998 Esso Blackback 3 Well Control 1998 Troll Pilot Subsea Seprator 1999 Petrobrass Marlin. 10 Well Control 1999 Chevron Kuito 30 Well Control Sub Sea Isolation Valve (SSIV) Controls 1988 Chevron Ninian 12 plus valves 1989 BP Ninian 1 Valve 1989 BP Magnus 1 Valve 1990 BP cleeton 3 Valves 1993 Texaco Strathspey 6 Valves 1997 Britannia 6 Valves 1998 Alba/Britannia 2 valves Diver/RT Installation. Brit Diver Installation Brit Diver/ROV Installation Brit Diver Installation Brit ROV Installation USA Diver Installation Norg Diver Installation Brit ROV Installation Brit ROV Installation Norg ROV Installation Spain Diver Installation Brit ROV Installation Norg ROV Installation USA ROV Installation Brit ROV Installatio USA ROV Installation Aust ROV Installation Norg ROV Brazil ROV Angola


Appendix 2
List Of Abbreviations. Tree Related PWV PMV AMV AWV XOV COV FCV MIV PCVO PCVC CIV SSSV DHSV DHPT BOP LRP WOCS Manifold Related PDV PV SI CI CP Production Diverter valve Pigging Valve Scale Inhibitor Corrosion Inhibitor Cathodic Protection Production Wing Valve Production Master Valve Annulus Master Valve Annulus Wing Valve Cross Over Valve Cross Over Valve Flow Cut Valve Methanol Injection Valve Production Chock Valve Open Production Chock Valve Close Chemical Injection Valve Sub Surface Safety Valve Down Hole Safety Valve Down Hole Pressure and Temperature Blow Out Preventer Lower Riser Package Work Over Control System

Control System related SCM SCP UTA SEDB Sub Sea Control Module Sub Sea Control Pod (USA) Umbilical Termination Assembly Sub Sea Electrical Distribution Box

Top SIDE Equipment HPU PJB MCS DCS PCS Hydraulic Power Unit Platform junction Box Master Control Station Distributed Control System Platform Control System



Sub sea Engineering Station Subsea Modem Unit Process Shut Down Emergency Shut Down Motor Control Cabinet Electrical Power Unit


Appendix 3
TYPES OF FACILITY Jack-up Drill Rig Semi-submersible Drill Rig Drill Ship Tension Leg Platform (TLP) Steel Jacket Platform Concrete Gravity Base Platform Floating Production Unit (FPU) Floating Production and Storage FPSU or FPSO in the case of Foinaven Dive Support Vessel (DSV) Multi-support vessel (Floatel) (MSV) Emergency Support Vessel (ESV) (Iolare) Heavy Lift Barge (DB 102 M7000) Pipe and Cable Lay Ships (Flex Installer Apache) Rock Dumpers Survey Vessels Trenching Vessels Supply Vessels Standby Vessels Jack-up Drill Rig

Typical Jack up Rig. These units consist of a triangular main desk/hull. On each corner there is fitted a retractable lattice leg, 200-300 ft. long. Once the rig has been floated into its working position the three legs are lower down to the sea bed and are then used to lift the hull/work desk out of the water. The drill rig itself is located on a sliding platform so once in position it can be moved over the side to its work position. This at times may be over a fixed platform riser area.


The jack-up drill rig is only used in shallow water such as southern North Sea gas fields. Semi Submersible Rig. For deeper water drilling the preference is to use a Semi submersible drilling rig. These rigs are basically catamarans, with the deck raised up from the 2 hulls on legs. They are often self propelled. Once on location they can ballast down to move the bulk of the mass of the vessel bellow the moving surface water. This makes them very stable work platforms.

A Semi sub at rest in the Cromarty Firth In very deep waters they can hold themselves in position using thrusters (DP dynamic positioning). But in most cases are held in position by anchors with a very wide spread. With recent developments in deep water production, Semisubmecibles are now being used for production platforms.

Tension leg platform Tension leg platforms are similar in construction to a Semi-sub, but instead of blasting them down they are pulled down by multiple chains and as such are no longer mobile.


Steel Jacket Platform

The steel jacket platform s re the most widely used platform design. The steel tubular tower on to which the decking and modules are attached, sits on the sea bed and is held in place with piles. The use of steel tubes allows the structure to be very flexible, allowing the structure to sway with the sea. Gravity base platform. Gravity based platforms like the steel jackets sit on the sea bed. Normally built of concrete they can be completely built in shore before being floated into position and ballasted onto the sea bed. There central column is often used to store the produced crude prior to off load to a shuttle tanker.


Floating Production and storage unit. (FPSU)

Floating production and storage units (FPSU) or Floating production and offloading vessels (FPSO) are large ships, often converted from super tankers. All the production systems normally found on a platform is located on the main deck. The produced oil is stored in the hull until a shuttle tanker offloads and takes it to the shore. The FPSU is moored to the sea bed via a turret around which the entire vessel rotates. The turret is also where all the sea bed interfaces such as the flowline risers and the control umbilical enter the ship. Mostly used with subsea control system fields but smaller units can be fitted with a Derek and direct risers. Multi support vessels.

Tern Alpha platform with the MSV Felicia in attendance


MSV's often refereed to as floatels are used in fields during large scale construction phases. There roll is to provide accommodation for the work force, as well as work deck space and crainage. Normally large Semi-subs with an automatic bridge link to the installation. Heavy Lift barge.

These vessels are used for construction off shore and are the largest mobile cranes in the world. The heavy lift record is currently held by the DB102 when it lifted the Britannia integrated deck onto the jacket at a weight of.12,000 tones. Pipe and Cable Laying Ships

The pipeline layer Norlift.


Pipeline lay vessels like the Norlift and the Apache are used to lay pipelines up to 24" dia. The steel pipes are constructed on 2 mile long piers before they are coiled up onto the vessels vertical carousel. Once on location the pipe is fed through a straightening system on the vessels stern before being laid on the sea bed.