Final Report Summary - ACMARE (CA) (Co-ordination Action to implement an Advisory Council for Maritime Transport Research in Europe)
The 'offshore' sector is, economically speaking, the second most important sector in Europe. Based on radical innovations that started mostly 30 years ago in the North Sea and West Africa, a pre-eminent position has been achieved in: offshore engineering, sub-sea equipment and installation, floating structures for deep-waters, pipe laying, installation vessels, survey vessels, including seismic and the like. It must be noted that, in offshore engineering, on a worldwide market of about 25 billion dollars a year, the three companies on top of the league are European.
During these 25 years, it is critical to develop the resources as well as the technologies needed for a more efficient production of primary energy. Scientific and technological advances must be accomplished to:
- Identify and produce hydrocarbons from increasingly difficult geological conditions; smaller and more subtle traps.
- Extend operational limits: drilling reach, water depth, pipeline length and water depth, process complexity.
- Reduce the environmental impact of producing, transporting, delivering and using energy
- Capture and sequestration of industrial CO2: static, dynamic or chemical (Carbonation).
- For the longer term, the decarbonisation process of fossil energies and the following migration to hydrogen as a secondary energy vector will represent an ideal solution in terms of primary energy conversion yield and CO2 emission. A significant technology pull through would significantly enhance the efficiency of the development of renewable technologies when using hydrogen as the interim energy vector.
- Achieve those goals competitively on the world markets.
The main challenges brought in by a 1500 m water layer can be seen as :
- No radio transmission through water, no global positioning system on the sea floor; a new sub-decametric geodesy has to be invented.
- Data links: down-hole to surface, sub-sea and surface to surface are all wire dependent
- Risk evaluation methodology.
The 'marinisation', on floating structures, of production processes is essential with, as an objective, the transfer of a maximum of presently sea-level processes to sea floor and/or down hole operations.
In addition, exploration, assessment and production of offshore energy resources necessitate the development of fit for purpose and custom-built vessels, intelligent ROV's and other operational aids for the oil and services industries to be as efficient, safe and reliable as possible.
The move to deeper and deeper waters is leading the offshore engineering companies to 'rethink' the deep water production methodologies. This will necessitate a new generation of service vessels yet to be designed.
In the coming decades, extending natural gas consumption is likely to become the most important means of reducing CO2 and other green house gases (GHG) emissions while renewable technologies are marketed and widely used. By-products of all processes must now be commercialised or segregated and safely disposed of in the reservoir or elsewhere. In this context, Europe must permanently update its knowledge and must constantly investigate towards innovative techniques related to gas transport and utilisation while securing the supply and the diversification of this natural energy source recognised as the main key for our future.
All issues (technical, economical, environmental) are nowadays closely interconnected and cannot anymore be investigated independently from one another. They have to be optimised along the whole chain: 'from well to wire and from well to wheel'.
It must be emphasised that the objective of moving progressively from natural gas to hydrogen will concentrate a lot of effort on new processes and reshape the refining industry.
For the Oil & Gas Supply Industries to stay competitive on the worldwide scene (with products and services being net contributors to Europe's trade balance), more efforts are needed for a more effective integration and structuring of R&D at European level
European approach could bring important added value when:
- Cooperation is organised in the pre-competitive domain horizontally between enterprises; research institutes and academia/universities.
- Trans-sectorial cooperation with other high-tech dependent industries (aeronautics, information technology, maritime industries) is strongly encouraged.
Political and financial support from public authorities in Europe, should result in the following benefits both for citizens and European industry:
- Increased competitiveness of the European industry, which should remain a leading technology player in such a strategic sector
- Opening of new markets and considerable reinforcement of the existing ones, which will boost employment and social wealth
- Development of innovative technologies adapted to a responsible management of natural resources
- Substantial reduction of CO2 emissions in compliance with the Kyoto Protocol
- Essential contribution to the European Research Area in this sector.
Out of the 4 priorities delineated by the OECD, to consolidate energy security of supply two are directly connected to offshore and have a strong link with transport.
- Extend the remaining life of existing fields
- Deep and ultra deep offshore
- Non conventional hydrocarbons (Canada and Venezuela)
- Liquefied natural gas.
In developing a technological vision to achieve these objectives, two avenues must be pursued, mostly in the priority domains of deep and ultra deep offshore and the gas chain:
-Demonstration and deployment of technologies whose feasibility is already proven.
- Development of innovative high-technology solutions.
Benefits expected from working within the European Research Area umbrella ( Framework Programmes, EUREKA, cooperation between national programs ) are two folds:
- The mere creation of multi-national teams adds value through the sharing of technical, commercial and market information.
- The creation of specialists teams from several European countries bring the best possible expertise in the project and improve the quality at large of the research.
The scope of work for those technologies could be developed in detail, but in WATERBORNE not all these themes are being considered but only those selected in the Vision document, namely:
Area 1 - Develop new methodologies (step innovation) to deep-water production (platforms, risers, sea-floor processing).
Area 2 - Develop and qualify sub-sea and robotics technologies to 3000 m routine work.
Area 3 - Develop new methodologies (step innovation) to deep-water production (platforms, risers, sea-floor processing).
Area 4 - Develop new types of deep-sea service vessels.
Area 5 - Adapt oil and gas technologies and develop new ones to offshore renewable energy production.
Area 6 - Develop new technologies for offshore infrastructures (gas liquefaction, LNG vaporisation); Step innovation R&D in design and construction of LNG carrier.
Area 7 - Valorise existing and future technological synergies between offshore and ship building.