Equinor, the Norwegian-based energy company, is currently drilling for oil in the Johan Sverdrup field, one of the five largest oil fields in the harsh marine environment of the Norwegian continental shelf.
Live streaming for undersea support
Last month, the construction of a new pipeline began from the Mongstad refinery to the Johan Sverdrup oil field, ending at a depth of 300 metres.
The oil field is located in the North Sea, 160 kilometres from the Mongstad refinery, and is expected to hold 1.8–2.9 billion barrels (290–460 million cubic metres) of oil. According to Equinor, the field lies at a depth of 110 to 120 metres beneath the surface, while the reservoir itself is at 1,900 metres.
Oil production is planned for late 2019, so a great deal of construction still needs to be done at this stage.
The complexity of offshore drilling
Carrying out drilling operations 300 metres below sea level is extremely difficult and demands highly specialized equipment and skilled operators.
Extreme precision is required throughout the drilling process, and so the drill bit and rig site operators are supported by a variety of sensors which transmit data at various intervals. Parameters such as pressure, torque, hook load, weight on bit, mud flow, rate of penetration and RPM are regularly registered and fed back to Equinor’s rig site operators and engineers.
Highly manoeuvrable undersea support
Due to low visibility (there is rarely any significant light beyond 200 metres beneath the surface), a remotely-operated underwater vehicle (ROV) with light and camera support is required in order to monitor the work at a depth of 300 metres.
The point of view from the ROV is vital – it gives the drill bit and rig site operators a direct indication of when the bit penetrates through the seabed. If the drill bit is not stopped in time it will continue out of its casing, and will be extremely difficult to get back in place at that depth.
Equinor is naturally very keen to avoid this happening, not only because of the cost and time-consuming implications, as well as the safety risks involved in the intervention required to resolve it, but also because it would unnecessarily delay the total production revenue of NOK 1,350 billion that the Johan Sverdrup oil field is expected to deliver.
Reliable real-time video is vital
That’s why Equinor reached out for help with the monitoring task and selected BLOM Fiskeoppdrett AS, a company with the knowledge and the equipment to handle an ROV and the necessary HSE excellence for working not only offshore, but subsea. Another very important criterion was that BLOM was able to deliver a strong and reliable video stream.
During the initial 800 metres of drilling, Incendium’s Stream Unit™ was connected to BLOM’s V8 M500 ROV, which streamed video to the drill bit and rig site operators. The stream could be simultaneously viewed on the IncidentShare™ web portal back at Equinor’s headquarters, where the project management team was closely monitoring the work and its progress. OCEAN SAR, an Incendium reseller, sold the Stream Unit™ to BLOM, but they were also part of the project at Equinor, monitoring all ROV systems, including the ROV winch, position and all of the documentation.
Kjell Thore Olsen, CEO of OCEAN SAR, says: “Incendium’s streaming solution was much appreciated by Equinor and has proved its value. Streaming live video from an ROV during drilling operations will definitely set new standards in the offshore industry.” As a result of this, BLOM has been asked to perform further undersea work at the Johan Sverdrup oil field, helping Equinor to avoid downtime and improve efficiency and communication by streaming video from drilling operations.
Blom Fiskeoppdrett AS was founded in 1971 by one of Norway’s pioneers in fish breeding, and remains a family business today, run by the second and third generation. BLOM uses ROVs and Incendium’s streaming platform to inspect their fish farms, which allows the company’s management to inspect the farms and follow the work without needing to travel to the sea farm themselves. www.blomsea.no