This is what our Åsgard subsea compression plant would look like if you put it in the middle of Volksparkstadion in Hamburg.
1. Underwater factories: Åsgard subsea compression
Imagine that your washing machine had to run the spin cycle all year long—for approximately thirty years. Without any special maintenance or replacement of parts. Then imagine that your washing machine is the size of a football stadium, and that it’s at the bottom of the sea. That’s roughly what Åsgard subsea compression is like.
In 2015, with good help from our suppliers in Aker Solutions and ABB, Statoil, today's Equinor, installed a complete factory on the seabed in order to recover more oil from the Mikkel and Midgard reservoirs.
Normally, a factory like this would require a great deal of maintenance, and regularly be stopped for cleaning, but this was not an option for Åsgard. Here everything had to run like clockwork, without stopping or the possibility of routine replacement of parts. Now the recovery rate has increased from 67 to 87 per cent for Midgard, and from 59 to 84 per cent for Mikkel. This represents a combined total of 306 million barrels of oil equivalents, or about the same as an average Norwegian oil field.
The next frontier?
High-technology factories that practically run themselves in locations that are almost impossible to reach is a big achievement. Now, the technology is inspiring solutions elsewhere—not only in other oil fields, but also in areas such as space travel.
3. Staying in place without anchors: dynamic positioning
Head of Research at IFE's research laboratory, Morten Langsholt, in front of one of the pipes where various multiphase streams are tested. This technology saw the light of day at this laboratory, and the work that has been carried out here has been developed further through cooperation with Equinor, among others.
Multiphase technology does something as simple as letting us transport oil, gas, water and condensates in the same pipe at the same time. It’s that simple—and yet, so difficult.
In 2012, in a competition in Norwegian national daily newspaper Aftenposten, multiphase technology trounced the paper clip and the cheese slicer as Norway’s most important invention. Alongside other familiar Norwegian innovations like the Tripp Trapp chair and the aerosol can, multiphase technology can seem a little mysterious. But it’s a technology that has saved billions for the oil industry and generated billions in revenue for the Norwegian state.
Along with the OLGA (OiL and GAs) software, which simulates and calculates the flow of oil, gas and water, multiphase technology has made it possible to transport everything in the same pipeline, and thus avoiding the need for separator machinery on every platform in an oil field.
Equinor and Hydro were active in the development of the technology, but it was IFE’s multiphase laboratory that completed the development of the technology and the OLGA model. At the time, IFE was awarded Equinor’s research award for the project. Today, this technology is used worldwide. Equinor's K-lab at Kårstø and Porsgrunn is also used extensively for the testing of various multiphase technologies and solutions.
Today, tests are underway to adapt this technology for use in cancer research. The idea is to use multiphase models to simulate and visualise the growth and spread of malignant tumours.
5. Transporting liquid gas in spherical tanks
Natural gas takes up a lot of space, but liquefying it reduces the volume enormously—by a factor of 600.
In simple terms, that means that 600 litres of gas at room temperature can be compressed to only one litre of liquid if cooled below the boiling point of minus 162°C.
That’s very cold, but it makes maritime transport of gas profitable, despite the need for particularly strong focus on safety as well as certain special solutions.
One of these solutions are the spherical tanks developed by Moss Maritime. These characteristic tanks can often be seen on ships loading LNG at Melkøya in Hammerfest, northern Norway.
Illustration: Moss Maritime, www.mossww.com
If you’d like to receive an email whenever we publish Equinor magazine stories like this one, please sign up below: