Statoil currently employs several environmental monitoring methods at its installations, mainly on the Norwegian continental shelf. However, there are no solutions available on the market that are integrated and enable physical, biological and chemical data to be measured during actual operations.
"Environmental monitoring is essential for Statoil in order to achieve its target of zero harmful discharges. We are now signing a deal for a three-year research project and a lot of hard work remains to be done before we will know whether EM works as we hope it will. But if we succeed in taking environmental monitoring from being a separate task to become an integrated part of daily production, we will achieve even safer operations and reduced costs. This will represent a quantum leap for offshore environmental monitoring," says Statoil R&D head Karl Johnny Hersvik.
Kongsberg Oil & Gas Technologies will head a consortium that also comprises Kongsberg Maritime Subsea, IBM and DNV, each of whom will contribute technology and expertise within several areas.
The programme will lead to an integrated environmental monitoring concept by building on current technologies and developing new subsea and topside data technology.
Statoil is contributing NOK 75 million of the contract's NOK 150 million framework, while the remaining NOK 75 million is being split among the consortium members.
The technology will be tested out at Kongsberg Maritime Subsea on the seabed of the harbour basin in Horten.
"An ever-increasing share of our production takes place subsea, in areas located far away from other infrastructure – such as the far north. The potential for EM as part of our day-to-day operations is considerable. EM will also make it possible to shut down production or cease construction activity during environmentally sensitive periods," says Hersvik.
EM works by attaching a number of sensors around an installation to measure live physical, biological and chemical data, making it easier to detect deviations. Considerable IT capacity is required to interpret the complete information flow from the sensors simultaneously, while coordinating monitoring with day-to-day operations.
The correct application of information technology is therefore a pre-requisite for realising EM, and has accordingly been given a major role in this project.
A pre-project was conducted in 2009 to investigate the effects of cuttings during the drilling on the subsea Morvin field in the Norwegian Sea, where substantial collections of corals have been found.
"The tests revealed no damage to the corals while drilling took place and extensive pictorial material provides no indication that adjacent corals were negatively impacted by the discharge of cuttings. This trial gave us some very valuable information about how to handle top-hole cuttings in environmentally sensitive areas. It is this kind of environmental monitoring we wish to integrate into our operations," says Statoil EM project head Mona Låte.
Statoil signs environmental monitoring development agreement