Meeting demand

Meg Chesshyre

October 3, 2014

GE launched its new technology center and a new deepwater vertical Xmas tree at this year’s ONS. Meg Chesshyre learned more.

The inauguration of GE’s new technology solutions center, including a half-size model of its new deepwater Xmas tree.

GE Oil & Gas launched its deepwater, high-pressure and high-temperature vertical Xmas tree (DVXT), at the ONS conference in Stavanger in August. The DVXT subsea vertical tree is an adaptable system for installation by a simple support vessel, with a tree mandrel that can accommodate drilling BOP or completion riser.

Mike Wenham, subsea trees senior application engineer, says that the DVXT is a new configuration of tree, providing flexibility and customization, relying heavily on proven technology, using core established products. It targets the North Sea, west of Shetland, East and West Africa, the Gulf of Mexico, and Asia Pacific.

GE is hoping to meet an anticipated growing demand for subsea Xmas trees. Subsea production offers a significant growth opportunity and technical challenge, says Christopher Phebus, engineering director, Subsea Products & Projects, GE. He says that subsea production in 2012 was 9% of the total hydrocarbon production, but this is anticipated to be at least 15% by 2020, and that some industry experts are pegging that at around 50% by 2035.

The DVXT is a 5in. x 2in. tree designed for up to 3000m water depths, 10,000-15,000psi pressure, and a temperature range of -18°C to +151°C. It has an estimated 53-tonne weight (dependent on the specification), and is optimized to fit a 16ft x 16ft moonpool to accommodate older rig specifications. The tubing head spool has an estimated weight of about 32-tonne, again dependent on specification.

Deployed with the company’s next-generation remote electronics canister—the SemStar5-R—the DVXT incorporates the latest in communication technology and is designed to achieve higher subsea reliability, extended service life and improved environmental monitoring. Already a market leader with communications out to 220km, at depths of up to 3000m, the ModPod subsea control module is designed to complement the DVXT’s modular layout and enables an even more flexible communications network.

GE Oil & Gas’s new deepwater vertical Xmas tree.

“We’ve focused on maximum re-use of existing design,” Wenham says. “It is predominantly packaging. These trees have to go into Africa. We flat pack them and build them locally.”

The DVXT’s frame has been designed to be modular, which means it can be easily built in developing countries, where there might not be quite the same manufacturing capability, but local content requirements.

The tree incorporates requirements from major deepwater operators, through early engagement. GE has focused on lowest installed cost with flexible installation techniques and delivery times, for a core tree with minimal customization, of within 18 months. The unit’s design life is 30 years.

Looking ahead, it will be possible to incorporate new technology into the tree as it comes along, Wenham says, “whether that be flowmeters, intelligent trees with strain gauges, or virtual flow metering.”

To meet future manufacturing requirements, GE invested US$20 million in its facilities in Montrose, Scotland, with two new horizontal borers and associated cladding and inspection rigs. The upgrade was completed in July 2013. GE also has existing capability in Singapore and is building a new facility in Batam, Indonesia, which already has orders for the new DVXT trees.

Technology Solutions Center launch

GE Oil & Gas also inaugurated its new $5 million Technology Solutions Center (TSC) in Stavanger, Norway, during ONS. Sitting opposite GE’s existing Subsea Systems facility in the port of Dusavik, it features a combination of interactive digital displays, live demonstrations and scale models, including GE PII’s intelligent pigs, the Safire 2.0 multiphase flowmeter and the newly launched DVXT. State-of-the-art training facilities and meeting rooms are also located on-site.

The center brings together the numerous GE Oil & Gas business units including Subsea Systems, Drilling & Surface, Turbomachinery Solutions, Downhole Technology Solutions, Measurement & Control (including PII Pipeline Solutions), and Lufkin. The center also draws on the expertise of other GE businesses operating in the oil and gas space, including Power Conversion, Intelligent Platforms, Digital Energy (Energy Management), Distributed Power and Water & Process Technologies (GE Power & Water), Transportation and Lighting. 

Click Here to see a video of GE’s new DVXT xmas tree, geared to meet the challenges of deepwater projects.