Innovating to meet new deep offshore challenges

Hydrocarbon located in deep seabeds is an important resource in meeting the world's growing energy needs. More than 400 billion barrels of oil equivalent are still buried, two-thirds of which have yet to be discovered. Today, close to 40% of our operated production of hydrocarbon comes from deep seabeds. Total is one of the world's top deep offshore operators and is known for being at the forefront of technology. We are a trailblazer in many fields, including riser towers, all-electric FPSO1, and underwater gas/liquid separation.

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    CLOV

    CLOV, Angola, a large deep offshore project.

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    On Moho Nord, Total has developed new technology for safer, better exploitation.

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    Total won the 2013 OTC (Offshore Technology Conference) Award and the 2013 IPTC (International Petroleum Technology Conference) Award for its development of the deep offshore project Pazflor in Angola.

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    CLOV
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The challenges of deep offshore

Exploiting deep offshore deposits means working at more than 500 meters (approximately 1,640 feet) below sea level to drill wells as much as 7,000 meters (approximately 23,000 feet or just over 4 miles) deep. At such depths, temperatures and pressures can be extreme. Challenges of the work include separating gas from oil collected, treating water contaminated with hydrocarbon, supplying installations with electricity, and reducing development and exploitation costs for deep offshore projects, all while ensuring we meet our environmental commitments. 

This requires the use of reliable, profitable technology in which we have acquired world-renowned expertise, including the design, construction, and management of FPSOs, floating production vessels, and the processing and storage of hydrocarbon.

  • In 2011, Pazflor, off the coast of Angola, achieved a technological world first, not only in terms of its size, but for its installation of underwater separation units, which separate liquid gas from the ocean floor, making it possible to pump the gas to an FPSO. This achievement helped overcome one of the project's major challenges: extracting heavy, viscous oil from Miocene reservoirs.
  • In 2014, CLOV, located 140 kilometers northwest of Luanda, Angola, was Total's second all-electric FPSO but the first to be equipped with speed variators to optimize energy consumption. It was also the first time that the company had installed multiphase pumps in deep water to increase pressure and thus improve recovery rates. 
  • In 2017, the Moho Nord oil and gas project in the Congo will represent a new step in the company's technological history toward safer, more productive exploitation. Two floating vessels will process two different oils from separate reservoirs, the drilling instrument will move via a sliding system so as not to disrupt operations, and two underwater pumps—among the most powerful in the world—will extract highly viscous hydrocarbon.

Our expertise in FPSOs allows us to undertake projects that are equally ambitious in other ways, such as Libra off the coast of Rio de Janeiro, where we are helping to develop the largest gas field discovered yet off the coast of Brazil, at depths of over 2,000 meters.

A belief in continuous innovation

For 30 years, our ability to innovate in deep offshore has helped us find production solutions while maintaining the safety and security of workers and facilities and keeping our environmental promises. 

For example, we are developing subsea-to-shore technology so that all production units can be installed directly on the ocean floor and surface installations can be eliminated entirely. This underwater infrastructure will allow us to go further and deeper under even more trying sea conditions while improving safety and reducing costs. 

Subsea-to-shore is the culmination of more than ten years of Research & Development. We first deployed the technique in 2016 in our Laggan-Tormore project, a first in the United Kingdom. In the North Sea, where waters are cold and currents are strong, at 600 meters down, four underwater wells were connected by a 140 kilometer pipeline to a new gas treatment plant located on the Shetland Islands. In this case, not a single platform was installed at sea, making Laggan-Tormore a project with one of the longest connections in the world and certainly the longest in such difficult environmental conditions. 

With this technological revolution, Total is paving the way for new possibilities in exploration and operation, as subsea-to-shore can be used at depths of over 3,000 meters and at longer distances off of coasts.

 

1 Floating production storage and offloading.

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