'Power of one' to generate growth

Meg Chesshyre

March 26, 2013

GE Oil & Gas 2013 Annual Meeting, in its 14th consecutive year, was attended by more than 1000 oil and gas industry executives from over 70 countries. Meg Chesshyre joined the multitude in Florence, Italy.

Gorgon module loading at Avenza, Italy

At the beginning of the two day event, GE Oil & Gas CEO Daniel Heintzelman highlighted significant industry megatrends. About 80 million boe of new production capacity will be needed by 2020. There will be a fivefold increase in capital expenditure per barrel of new capacity added between 2008 and 2016. The industrial internet will add $90 billion in value to industry through increased recovery and production, and reduced capital and operating expenditures. Heintzelman said that around 50% of today’s engineers would be eligible to retire by 2015. There would be a 9% growth in unconventional industry spend between 2012 and 2015, and a 14% growth in subsea industry spend. He added that the company will double its technology spend in the oil and gas segment over the next three years.

He stressed the importance of what GE chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt calls the “power of one.” GE believes that a 1% improvement in a number of different areas can have a really big impact on customers’ productivity. Of course, there are areas of the business that are growing faster than others – subsea, unconventionals in North America. The combination of industry growth and soontoretire professionals means that the competition for talent remains very strong.

Rod Christie, president and CEO subsea systems with GE Oil & Gas, agrees that the pace of project activity is increasing in the subsea sphere. It was much stronger in 2012 than in 2011. “There was a substantial increase in commercial activity in 2012. We can see that continuing through 2013. Not only is it new installation, but we are starting see more brownfield redevelopment a number of enquiries around field expansion, additional add-on wells.” One example is Balder 3 for ExxonMobil in the Norwegian sector, where the company is adding six more wells, as well as refurbishing and upgrading the controls.

GE Skills Developmental Center, Jandakot, Australia.

Christie said that Angola had been very busy in 2012, in terms of deployment. The formation of a new joint venture, GE-GLS Oil & Gas Angola, was announced at the conference. As part of the agreement, the companies are planning an initial investment of $175 million to build a new manufacturing facility in Soyo, in Angola’s Zaire province, that will supply subsea equipment to the oil & gas industry in Angola. The new manufacturing facility will start operating in two years. GE committed to recruiting and training Angolans for the project and a fairly extensive hiring program is now under way. Projects coming up in Angola include Chevron’s Lianzi and a second phase of ExxonMobil’s Kizomba satellites.

Christie also saw a continued high level of activity in Western Australia. There are clearly mega projects out there now – Chevron Gorgon, Inpex Ichtys, and a smaller project – Apache Julimar – awarded last year. In Australia, the challenge is to find human resources to staff the projects. To help overcome this problem, GE established a learning center last year at Jandakot, near Perth, on the same site as its service center set up the previous year. “This allows us do training and development for our own people and for our customers.”

GE is investing in new facilities worldwide. Last year, it opened a $40 million extension to its substantial service facility in Macae, Brazil. A two-phase redevelopment is under way at the company’s Bridge of Don facility in Scotland. An expansion to its machine shop in Montrose, Scotland, will open shortly, allowing it to build and test master valve blocks. Also in the UK, there is ongoing investment in Nailsea and a new projects office has been opened in Bristol.

Technology updates

Gorgon tree shipment, Aberdeen, UK.

GE Oil & Gas, which currently employs around 37,000 people in more than 100 countries, expects to continue growing. It had US$15.2 billion in revenues in 2012, and carried out over 90 product launches. Technology solutions announced at the show included GE Oil & Gas’s Artificial Lift business-first motor cooling system, designed to meet the challenges of deeper wells and hotter environments. The system provides lower motor temperatures and employs a unique design that helps remove certain pressure and size constraints, making it easier to install. The Artificial Lift business also launched a new, higher-efficiency electric submersible motor that simplifies installation. Currently in final field trials in North America, the new motor is designed to deliver more power and higher efficiencies than existing motors. With its overall length reduced, it also should be simpler to install.

GE Oil & Gas launched its first single-shaft integrated compressor line (ICL), designed for designed for low-pressure ratio applications such as pipeline compression. Combining GE Oil & Gas compressor technology and GE Power Conversion motors and drive systems, the technology delivers energy savings, reduces emissions and offers easy remote control monitoring. Featuring up to 20% more operating range flexibility and greater efficiency, the new ICL costs about the same as conventional compressors.

GE Oil & Gas and Houston-based Sharewell Energy Services have signed an agreement that gives GE exclusive worldwide rights to sell Sharewell’s proprietary electromagnetic telemetry technology as part of GE’s measurement-while-drilling (MWD) portfolio. GE says the technology from Sharewell improves operating efficiencies by offering telemetry rates six times greater than conventional mud pulse-based MWD systems.

GE has received a contract to supply four complete, variablefrequency drive, high-speed electric motor and centrifugal compressor packages for Total E&P Norge’s new offshore production platform on the Martin Linge oil and gas field. This is the first application of GE’s high-speed, direct-drive motorcompressor package offshore. The packages combine GE Oil & Gas’s centrifugal compressor technology on active magnetic bearings with GE Power Conversion high-frequency, variable-speed drive and high-speed motor technology. In addition, one of the packages has a unique configuration, with a central highspeed electrical motor driving one centrifugal compressor from one end and a two-section compressor from the other end.

GE’s Blue-C compressor is now in the final phase of qualification testing and has accumulated more than 2300 running hours while installed in a pool at the Nyhamma plant in Norway. Blue-C has been built in a fully marine version for the Ormen Lange Subsea Compression Station Project, executed by Aker Subsea for Statoil and Norske Shell. It is designed for unattended operation more than 2950ft below sea level, with power up to 12.5MW. Installation on the seabed is expected in 2019. It will have a five-year maintenance cycle.

Another recent award is a contract worth more than $500 million to supply turbomachinery equipment and services to Petrobras (OE February, page 83). The contract will serve the four new floating production, storage, and offloading units (FPSOs P-74, P-75, P-76, and P-77) in the Cessão Onerosa region of the Santos Basin pre-salt fields, in the state of São Paulo. The scope of supply, which also takes in technology from other GE businesses, such as power conversion and power & water, includes: 16 powergen turbogenerators composed of PGT25+ gas turbines and electric generators, eight turbocompression trains driven by LM2500+ gas turbines and 32 electric motor driven compressors for gas main, export services and CO2 re-injection. In addition to core equipment, the new contract includes technical assistance for installation and commissioning start-up and services, such as repair, dedicated local field service engineers and customer training.

Multiphase flow

 

Multiphase flow and multiphase pumping are areas where GE Oil & Gas continues to focus, said Christie. “For everyone in this space, as we go deeper into harsher environments, the question becomes – what is the service interval? How many times do you have to intervene, how easy is it to recover.” He thinks there will be ongoing activity in that area for a number of years until coatings technology and pumping technology have reached acceptable levels.

GE Macae, Brazil.

One of the advantages that GE has is bringing together the core competence in sensing and diagnostics from its measurement and control division with the subsea systems division’s subsea production expertise, interfacing the measurement and control multiphase team with subsea control and trees team. One of the issues to be addressed is ongoing accuracy, with the surface application being ahead of the subsea application in this respect.

Brian Palmer, GE’s VP of measurement and control, said that one of the company’s biggest investments going forward is being directed to solving multiphase flow measurement. “It is a tough problem, and one that GE is well suited to solve, because we can draw from our research and development centre. We can draw from our health care business with our ultra sound and MRI capability. We are not there yet, but we are very optimistic that we will get there.”

He added that GE was piloting some land-based multiphase flow that had proved successful so far in accurately determining sand, water, oil and gas out of land-based wells, instead of tank testing the wells. It saved a lot of time, a lot investment in test equipment, but more importantly it was more accurate.

GE Nailsea, UK.

Another example of leveraging data acquired by sensor and devices from a platform, had been to expand it to all equipment on an operating platform, then instead of having the equipment expert sitting on the platform, bringing the data back to an engineering environment. With the addition of different platforms and multiple assets it was possible to compare fleets enabling real monitoring diagnostics. The value so far has been the ability to predict potential failures, so that a crew can be mobilized for a scheduled outage rather than a forced one, with the parts on hand.

Palmer said GE was very focused on thinking about how to drive instrumentation into subsea operations. Last summer, it acquired Naxys, a provider of subsea leak detection and condition monitoring sensors based on passive acoustic technology, headquartered in Bergen. OE