Securing the profitability of fields located far from shore and overcoming the challenges of ultra-deep offshore development demands innovative architectures and technologies. Some of the key concepts invented for these developments will also drive the emergence of a new generation of onshore and offshore conventional projects that deliver superior profitability in a “cheap oil” environment.

Reinforcing our deepwater leadership and extending it to the ultra-deep offshore

Total is at the forefront of the Deep Offshore industry. Currently accounting for more than 50% of our “Yet-To-Find” resources and 45% of our operated production, the Deep Offshore remains one of our major growth sectors. Several deepwater projects will be sanctioned over the next two years. Moreover, through the strategic alliance formed with Petrobras in 2016, Total is destined to acquire interests in new fields located in Brazil’s Deep Offshore (Iara, Lapa).

Today, we need to consolidate our Deep Offshore achievements and venture even further – into the Ultra Deepwater region and down to the limits of the Abyssal zone. Our dual goal is to sustain the growth in production from our historical assets portfolio while developing the capabilities needed to tap new prospects in waters as deep as 4,000 meters. We will be contending with more challenging production environments (Brulpada, South Africa) coupled with ever-greater diversity in the types of fluids, the thermodynamic conditions and the size of the fields (which range from small satellites to giant fields such as the Libra field in Brazil).

Overcoming these challenges involves a long chain of technological progress: devising new development architectures with innovative production and drilling technologies tailored to the Ultra-Deep Offshore; understanding the physical-chemical behavior of multiphase fluids and flows; and designing new monitoring and intervention solutions for subsea facilities.

Designing tomorrow’s conventional developments

The facilities that we are developing for new production architectures in the Deep Offshore are designed to be extremely robust and reliable, and will require only occasional interventions. Those very features will underpin disruptive innovation in the design and operating principles of a new generation of conventional onshore and offshore assets.

Our five technical priorities

The research conducted under this Program is guided by one key objective: ensuring the viability of our industrial projects in an oil price environment of $50/barrel. This challenge is crucial to our future growth in a context marked by crude price volatility. The Program is addressing it by focusing on five technical priorities:

  • Innovating to develop full subsea versions of technologies we already master, to drive down the costs of Deep Offshore developments (i.e., subsea-to-shore and satellite field-to-production hub architectures);
  • Developing disruptive technologies that will allow us to explore for and develop assets in waters deeper than 3,000 m, in economically viable conditions;
  • Designing tomorrow’s conventional developments as Not Permanently Attended Installations delivering higher profitability, without in any way jeopardizing their operability or safety;
  • Sustaining the performance of our fields throughout their producing lives by deploying advanced inspection and maintenance methodologies and technologies that will reduce the logistical costs of intervention while optimizing asset integrity management;
  • Delivering ever-more efficient and reliable solutions for managing our industrial risks and environmental impacts.

Four R&D projects

Deep Offshore Development

This Project is in line with our ambition to be in the vanguard of designing development architectures and technologies for the Ultra-Deep Offshore (up to 4,000 meters of water) and for stranded reserves lying several hundred kilometers from the nearest coast (long tie-backs). Efforts are directed at:

  • Designing new architectures
  • Delivering new disruptive technologies, specifically new riser concepts and new, more economical pipelaying methods
  • Subsea processing technologies and the replacement of hydraulic by electric systems, two advances crucial to profitable development in this new depth region.

At the same time, the Project is seeking innovations that will lower the costs of Deep Offshore technologies already in our portfolio (i.e., for water depths to 3,000 meters and tie-back distances of up to 50 km).

 

Flow Assurance

The aim of this Project is to confirm our leadership when it comes to understanding physical-chemical phenomena and modeling multiphase flows. Studies focus notably on improving our grasp of how the physical-chemical properties of multiphase fluids correlate with the risk of deposit formation, and on developing simulation tools to enhance the reliability of our predictions in this area. For example, we are pursuing our development of LedaFlow®, the new-generation simulation code for multiphase fluid transport.

All the studies carried out under this Project will further the development of efficient new solutions consistent with our criterion of a design that is “good enough” to attain our goals.

 

Asset Integrity

Maintaining the sound operability and integrity of facilities throughout the producing life of our fields is an especially crucial issue in the Deep Offshore. This Project aims to catalyze the development of innovative methods and tools to improve our capacity to monitor, inspect and – if necessary – quickly repair subsea equipment. A major thrust of our research is the development of autonomous subsea robots (AUVs, Autonomous Underwater Vehicles), the initial purpose of which is to inspect subsea pipelines. Robotics will be a source of both optimization and cost reduction for our inspection operations.

 

Next-Generation Conventionals

The goal of this R&D Project is to significantly boost the value of our conventional assets in a “cheap oil” environment by reconciling a reduction in technical costs (CAPEX and OPEX) with operational excellence and ongoing enforcement of the highest HSE standards.

Next-Generation Conventional assets will be equipped with “streamlined” facilities operated by robots and controlled remotely from offsite control rooms. These “minimum-facility” platforms will require no permanent human presence and will be attended only for scheduled maintenance programs of limited duration.

Research & Development

The Driving Force Behind Total’s Competitiveness

Deep Offshore

Technical Responses to New Challenges

Deep Offshore

Flow Assurance: a Sensitive Issue for Any Oil Project