WOODSIDE Petroleum’s revelation that subsea improvements had led to its decision to reconsider expansion of the Pluto LNG project was just the tip of the iceberg for its importance to Western Australia’s LNG capacity, a key global analyst has told Energy News.

Speaking ahead of Subsea Energy Australia’s annual awards in Perth this Friday, where she will again present the Collaboration award, Deloitte’s national oil and gas lead and global LNG leader Bernadette Cullinane told Energy News that the subsea sector will grow due to ongoing operations and maintenance needs.

Once Chevron Corporation’s Wheatstone project goes online, which could be any day now, it will bring Australia’s total LNG export capacity to 85 million tonnes per annum by next year.

That includes the established North West Shelf (16.3MMtpa), Gorgon (15MMtpa in total) and Pluto (4.2MMtpa).

Woodside chief operating officer Mike Utsler told Energy News at AOG 2017 this year that subsea compression, which has successfully been used in Norway, could change the industry in the same way onshore horizontal drilling has in the US, with an extra 30 trillion cubic feet of gas potentially available on the NWS.

He added that the ability to link smaller pools to existing infrastructure and stretching the boundaries of the possible using new subsea technologies had helped enable Woodside to start talking about expanding Pluto.

Austrade figures released last year revealed that the total investment from WA’s subsea industry had topped $10 billion so far, with more than 2000km of pipelines onshore and offshore.

Cullinane said Austrade’s figures highlighted the importance of subsea technology within the value chain, particularly with the growing LNG O&M challenge ahead.

“Anything subsea is really costly to maintain and repair, so any technological advances will really help with the international competitiveness of the Australian LNG industry,” she said.

“It’s a huge sector that makes a sizable contribution to our state’s economy and will grow significantly in the future because of the need for ongoing operations and maintenance.

“It’s a big installed base and it’s a very significant area for cost reduction, and in particularly there’s so much excitement about the potential for our LNG industry and the subsea sector is one of the most significant components of that.”

Nominees

While the SEA’s raison d’etre behind each category’s finalists have been more guarded this year, Energy News has gathered some information that reveals each one’s game-changing potential.

SPEC, a finalist for the Innovation and technology award, is involved in using 3D printing technology to help improve greater health, safety and engineering collaboration, producing rapid, low-cost, accurate prototypes.

Another finalist in that category, Cube Offshore, has designed and manufactured a completely weld-free, modular sea-fastening grill to secure subsea equipment on the deck of anchor-handling tug supply vessels during transit.

The third finalist, Subcon Technologies, developed an innovative solution for J-Tube sealing on the Wheatstone platform, including a fully reversible, permanent gel plug to seal the tube for Chevron and Technip that had communication with the ocean.

SPEC’s small but expert team of engineers with versatile experience across all fields within the subsea industry and “lean and keen” approach to every projects was also nominated for the New enterprise award.

3D at Depth was also a finalist for that category due to its “great ideas, executed well”, not to mention the attitude of senior management towards innovation, through research process and successful delivery phases.Jason De Silveira’s Nexxis, which brings inspection and robotic innovation together in Australia for cutting-edge solutions, was the third finalist for that category.

IntecSea and KBC Advanced Technology’s reservoir to market (R2M) initiative was a finalist for the Collaboration award for combining the former’s engineering capabilities and tools with the latter’s software capabilities to input reservoir data and output topsides material offloading terminals.

Wood Group’s SEAR joint industry project, another finalist, facilitates knowledge sharing between industry participants to improve subsea equipment design and reduce the requirement for costly and time-consuming interventions in challenging Australian warm-water offshore environment.

GE Oil & Gas was also a finalist for its collaboration with Sapura Energy on a light well intervention package developed to suit the local conditions and installed base, and has benefited Australia’s subsea market.