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Trends, developments and challenges in the subsea industry


The buzz phrase in the subsea sector currently is 'reducing costs'. Whilst new technology is being developed to meet operator requirements, the knowledge sharing ethos that would encourage faster developments is being shunned.

The Petroleum Safety Authority Norway reported back this year on subsea facilities, technological developments, incidents and future trends to gain.

Here is an outline of what they believe the future holds for the subsea industry.

Future trends

Despite technology being at the forefront of the industry's mind, the focus on reducing costs could lead to less interest in developing such advanced technology.

Building upon a report published in 2012 called 'Future technologies for production, processing and transportation', the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy were recommended prioritised areas to work on to bridge the technology gap.

These areas were to find governmental funding, and to help the industry develop the needed technology or competencies. Building from this report, The PSA Norway reported back on two focussed strategies.

1 - Standardised building block design field developments

"For fields with limited or uncertain resources, cost is an overall factor as well as time to get return on investment. Speed for development and construction is a key for the investment. The goal is quick delivers without sacrficing quality or safety."

2 - Advanced subsea system where new and novel technology will be developed

"The industry advances into more hostile environment and need to go for the more difficult hydrocarbons. This challenge calls for new technologies to be developed."

Although point 2 has a part to play in the future of subsea, it is point 1, standardising the industry which is seen as more likely to lay the foundation for its own business by being more attractive compared to platform-based developments.


Pushing the 'limits of complexity' are what PSA Norway have described the latest subsea developments, using previous knowledge and experience to improve them continually.

Despite a lack of real information, and companies having their unique ways of working, it is believed that future developments will be:

Compressor stations

These will be smaller units compared to what is used already. More compact, cost effective and flexible to install, these will make a big difference to energy consumptions.

Electrical power

Heavy investment in subsea electrical power will see the technology become more compact, reliable and more cost effective too.

Compression consumables

The number of components that will be installed on the seabed is set to increase dramatically. This brings the potential to reduce costs and improve efficiency, but also to reduce reliability.

components such as VSDs, switch gears and voltage transformations will be situated on the seabed and may make for a trickier installation too.


As mentioned in the introduction to this blog, the lack of knowledge sharing in the industry is hindering the speed at which developments take, and ultimately is a challenge to overcome. But this lack of transparency runs further than just knowledge sharing.

The lack of communication from operators on business disputes, accidents and spillages means no trend or root cause of the problem could be identified by the PSA Norway, something they want to eradicate.

By becoming a reliable, self sustained industry, the subsea sector could massively benefit from working together for the interest of themselves and the wider economical population.

The industry today is an international one where technology and techniques are universal. The PSA Norway believe that applying this approach to new technology, the subsea sector can capitalise massively in the future - and help to build a better picture of where the industry is going in the future.

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Photo Credit: PSA Norway

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