Siemens completes shallow water test of subsea power grid

The heart of the center is the unique pressure and test lab which is one of the most modern and advanced labs in the industry. The Siemens Subsea Technology center in Trondheim, Norway, was opened on September 1, 2011. Siemens has invested more than EUR 20 million in the Subsea Technology Center, in which new process equipment is being developed and manufactured. Siemens has already created in total about 100 scientific jobs. Additional jobs are expected from the start of production. The facility covering an area of 10,000 square meters is the global Research and Development Center for Siemens’ subsea oil and gas business.

The Subsea Technology Center focuses on research, innovative development, engineering and production for subsea power grid equipment. Siemens is one of the frontrunners in the industry to test and develop a fully functional power grid for operation at depths of 3,000 meters. In addition to the Subsea Technology Center the Power Electronic Center (PEC) is located in the building next door. In the PEC, Siemens develop, tailor-make and manufacture edge cutting technology for the Offshore Drilling market and Marine Propulsion market. Siemens has successfully concluded the first phase of its subsea power grid shallow water test in Trondheim, Norway. “There will be more subsea compressors, pumps, processing plants, and in the future entire production facilities placed on the seabed, all of which require power,” said Frode Tobiassen, head of subsea at Siemens.

“The development is what we are preparing for with the subsea power grid”

The initial results from the shallow water testing were positive and all units operated within their design parameters. The Pressure Test Laboratory is a part of the Subsea Technology Center. It can basically be considered as a “tool” for scientists to realize their ideas and then qualify the technology if feasible or not. Each component and all modules that are going to be used in the Siemens Subsea Power Grid at the seabed are tested and qualified in the pressure test lab. The test procedures and results are verified and approved together with world-leading oil companies. Siemens, in collaboration with industry partners Chevron, Equinor, ExxonMobil, and Eni Norge, is in the final stages of a program to develop a barrier-breaking system that will become the world’s first subsea power grid designed for distribution of medium voltage power using pressure compensated technology.

During the initial test phase at Siemens’ test site in Trondheim, the system operated in a ring loop topology at full load and a predetermined test and verification program was performed. The test lab houses altogether 23 highly equipped pressure vessels of different sizes. The staff in the laboratory comprises of ca. 20 experts, altogether there are currently about 100 persons working in the R&D project. After everything has been tested and qualified, the complete assembly of modules is being done as well as then followed by shallow-water testing. All subsea conditions down to around than 3,000 meters have been simulated before in the lab, whereas shallow water testing is about putting the system in water for the first time (at a dock at the harbor). The future of oil and gas recovery lies in accessing increasingly complicated reserves. Subsea processing opens the door to more cost-efficient developments, especially for long step-outs, marginal and dispersed fields and for deeper waters. A milestone on the road to large-scale seabed processing facilities will be the Siemens Subsea Power Grid that is able to operate for long step-outs with total reliability withstanding extreme pressure and harsh temperatures.

As technology leader on land-based power grids, Siemens has the strength and ability to configure complex power transmission to multiple subsea consumers. Beside high focus on R&D, broad experience with subsea power concept studies as well as marinization expertise for deep-sea transformers and compressors, Siemens has ten years experience on subsea control and communication. In fact, Siemens is the trusted partner that brings subsea processing visions to life. Future subsea processing facilities will grow to include several electrically driven pumps and gas compressors to transport oil and gas over very long distances. As a trusted partner for the subsea industry, Siemens will offer robust Siemens Subsea Power Grids for variable speed drives and other electrical subsea loads supplied from an onshore power plant or platform. The Siemens Subsea Power Grid is based on proven high-quality industrial components from Siemens: transformers, switchgear and variable speed drives.

The power components allow an installation on a common base frame distributed at seabed. All components within the Siemens Subsea Power Grid are retrievable. Representing a quantum leap in subsea compressor technology, Siemens has developed its STC-ECO motor compressor. Five essential design goals are realized to match the requirements of subsea applications: no seals, increased plant safety, increased uptime, zero emissions and a five years maintenance interval. Subsea applications have either suffered from poor seal reliability or involve hazardous and toxic gases. Based on Siemens field-proven hermetically sealed technology, the STC-ECO has proven the credibility of its concept and design, which offers dramatically improved productivity and environmental performance.

The STC-ECO features a fully integrated, canned design. Compared to solutions consisting of discrete components, this represents a substantial reduction of interfaces and, hence, providing a major improvement in safety. The STC-ECO has been designed for ultimate ruggedness while at the same time reducing complexity. With 5+ years maintenance intervals, it offers superior availability and unparalleled lifetime value. STC-ECO, the Siemens sealless technology platform, has been designed for dirty-gas application in the upstream, midstream and downstream sectors. Focus applications will include field depletion, gas and oil separation, gas gathering, gas lift and many others. The STC-ECO comes with a built-in variable-speed drive, offering maximum flexibility of operation. At the same time, the vertical, integrated concept enables a drastic reduction in the overall footprint, requiring minimal space in the plant layout. In parallel, preparations are ongoing for a deep-water pilot program where the equipment will be installed and used on a subsea field.

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