Innovating to meet new deep offshore challenges

Hydrocarbons located deep below seabeds are an important resource in meeting the world's growing energy needs. More than 400 billion barrels of oil equivalent are still buried, two-thirds of which have yet to be discovered. Today, close to 40% of our operated production of hydrocarbon comes from deep offshore. Total is one of the world's top deep offshore operators and is recognised for its technological expertise. We are the leader in many fields, including riser towers, all-electric FPSO1, and underwater gas/liquid separation.

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    CLOV, Angola, a large deep offshore project.

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    On Moho Nord, Total has developed new technology for safer, better production.

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    Total won the 2013 OTC (Offshore Technology Conference) Award and the 2013 IPTC (International Petroleum Technology Conference) Award for its development of the deep offshore project Pazflor in Angola.

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The challenges of deep offshore

Reaching deep offshore deposits means working at more than 500 metres below sea level to drill wells at depths of more than 7,000 metres. At such depths, temperature and pressure can be extreme. Challenges include separating gas from oil collected, treating hydrocarbons in water, supplying installations with electricity, and reducing development and production costs for deep offshore projects, whilst ensuring we meet our environmental commitments. 

This requires the use of reliable, cost-effective technology in which we have developed world-renowned expertise, including the design, construction, and management of FPSOs, floating production vessels, and the processing and storage of hydrocarbons.

  • In 2011, Pazflor, off the coast of Angola, achieved a technological world first, not only in terms of its size, but for its installation of underwater separation units, to separate liquid gas, making it possible to pump the gas to an FPSO. This achievement helped overcome one of the project's major challenges: to extract heavy, viscous oil from Miocene reservoirs.
  • In 2014, CLOV, located 140 kilometres northwest of Luanda, Angola, was Total's second all-electric FPSO and the first to be equipped with speed variators to optimise energy consumption. It was also the first time that the company installed multiphase pumps in deep water to increase pressure and thus improve recovery rates. 
  • Coming into production in March 2017, the Moho Nord oil and gas project in the Congo represents a new step in the company's technological evolution toward safer, more productive operations. Two floating vessels process two different oils from separate reservoirs, using a pair of underwater pumps—among the most powerful in the world—to extract highly viscous hydrocarbon, whilst the drilling instrument moves via a sliding system so as not to disrupt operations

Our expertise in FPSOs allows us to undertake projects that are equally ambitious in other ways, such as Libra off the coast of Rio de Janeiro, where we are helping to develop the largest gas field discovery off the coast of Brazil, at depths of over 2,000 metres.

A belief in continuous innovation

For 30 years, our ability to innovate in deep offshore has helped us find ever better production solutions while maintaining the safety and security of workers and facilities and keeping our environmental promises

For example, we are developing subsea-to-shore technology so that all production units can be installed directly on the ocean floor and surface installations can be eliminated entirely. This underwater infrastructure will allow us to go further and deeper in more difficult sea conditions while improving safety and reducing cost. 

Subsea-to-shore is the culmination of more than ten years of R&D. We first deployed the technique in 2016 in our Laggan-Tormore project, a first in the United Kingdom. In the North Sea, where waters are cold and currents are strong, at a depth of 600 metres, four underwater wells were connected by a 140 kilometre pipeline to a new gas treatment plant located on the Shetland Islands. In this case, not a single platform was installed at sea, making Laggan-Tormore a project with one of the longest connections in the world and certainly the longest in such difficult environmental conditions. 

With this technological revolution, Total is paving the way for new possibilities in exploration and production, as subsea-to-shore can be used at depths of over 3,000 metres and at longer distances off of coasts.


1 Floating production storage and offloading

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